By Ali Bulac
September 20, 2015
Unlike a commonly held approach and view, Islam is not just a religion; and as opposed to other religions, it is actually “the” religion.
In other words, it is a religion that sustains and preserves the sacred teachings, ancient teachings, essence and virtuous legacies of former religions. In the end, we can find the transcendental unity and message of the former religions in Islam and its teachings because Islam basically underlines that all prophets rely on the same divine message and that Prophet Muhammad is the last messenger and prophet of God; Islam also tells its followers not to make any distinction between the prophets and apostles of God (Quran, 2:285).
But the Muslim mindset is so confused that there are Muslim materialists who argue that there are no transcendental dimensions in Islam. They uphold that the reason Muslims are backward is because the Muslims who initially paid attention to the material world and material progress were taken hostage by the myths and legends of the Iranian, Indian, Greek and Christian civilizations. They further argue that Sufism and mysticism are one of the most important factors of this backwardness. Some Arab nationalists present Islam as an Arab religion, arguing that the Prophet Muhammad was an Arab and that the Quran was revealed in the Arabic language; some Turkish nationalists, on the other hand, respond to this argument noting that the Turks served Islam better. If you ask the Persians, they would probably argue that progress in Islam was made possible by the involvement of the Persians in the process. Most probably, in the near future, Kurdish nationalists will also refer to Muslim-Kurdish scholars and Salahuddin Ayyubi as greater contributors to Islam.
What is striking in these approaches is that Islam is detached from its genuine context and exploited for other goals and policies. After the adoption of the nation-state model by Muslims without reservations, all attempted to exploit Islam for their own goals. Some adopted Islam as a founding element and legitimized their presence with reference to it; some used it as a secondary element to convince the people that their attempts were justifiable. For instance, Wahhabi Islam is the main factor that legitimizes the Saudi regime. In Turkish nationalism, Islam is regarded as one of the elements that create a nation. It should be noted that the role of Islam in the determination of the national identity also determines its value. Undoubtedly, Mustafa Kemal was prone to a type of Islamism defended by Jamaluddin al-Afghani at the beginning. But then he agreed on a secular model because of the influence of external and internal factors. But if he had believed that Islam would have served the goals of the Turkish nation-state, he would have used Islam as a tool. Mustafa Kemal's practices and thoughts suggest that he sought to use the opportunities of an Islamist modernization model by relying on a Protestant religion. It is an irony to see that the current Islamist Kemalists also pay attention to Islam in an attempt to implement a similar project.