Religion used for trade solidarity: İhsanoğlu

Religion used for trade solidarity: İhsanoğlu

Okan Konuralp ANKARA
Religion used for trade solidarity: İhsanoğlu

Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu says Turkey has lost its ‘polyphonic’ side of democracy. DHA photo

Turkish presidential candidate Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu has said today’s Muslims are losing the religion’s spiritual side, adding the Muslim world needs a reform.

Speaking to daily Hürriyet on an airplane between Erzurum and Bursa, İhsanoğlu said religion has become more commercial.

“Our sense of religion is changing. We have lost the divine, ethereal side of religion a little,” the former secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said. “In the past, it was a big thing to go to umrah, hajj [both Muslim pilgrimages]. Now everybody goes to umrah as if going to a vacation. That holiness, that exceptional situation is getting lost.”

“Religion has turned into a factor of social and commercial solidarity, which is something new,” he added.

İhsanoğlu is backed by five opposition parties, including the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) for the upcoming presidential elections, the first round of which is scheduled for Aug. 10. The second round, if needed, will be held on Aug. 24.

İhsanoğlu has also urged the Muslim world for a reform.

“The Muslim world has to get out of its circle of underdevelopment,” he said. “The more modern you become, the further away you get far away from extremities. Otherwise, you remain in underdevelopment, and extremism and violence prevail. We have to start a process of modernization. Turkey has already started this, but we haven’t yet reached an absolute point. We are not in the first division yet. We are near the bottom of the second division. And I don’t wish to be relegated from the second division.”

He elaborated and included “industrial society and complete democracy.”

“If you actualize the two, then the rest will come,” he said. “But our traditions are important, too. As Muslims, you may believe [in religion], or not, but we need to protect the society’s values.”
İhsanoğlu added that Turkey is recently lacking “polyphony.”

“Isn’t democracy about multiple voices?” he asked. “But recently we have found ourselves in a situation in which we do not tolerate polyphony. We need to return to that. But we need to have harmony, not cacophony. We can only sustain harmony with political maturity.”