Turkey's Great Leap Forward: Atatürk's Reforms and the Rise of Political Islam
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The Turkish War of Independence and the following reforms implemented by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk were watershed events in both Islamic and world history. The political and social climate of Turkey, previously the Ottoman Empire, had long reflected the complex relationships between the Muslim and Western worlds, especially the power struggle between politics and religion. When Atatürk initiated a revolution in the country in 1919, politics, culture, and religion were dramatically and irrevocably changed. However, while the reforms themselves were swift, the philosophical and ideological development behind them was not. Religion and state in the Muslim world have evolved in tandem since Islam’s inception, and this relationship took a new turn with the rise of modern political Islam in the nineteenth century. The goal of this paper is to show that, when considered from the broader perspective of Islamic history, Atatürk’s creation and secularization of the Republic of Turkey represented the culmination of political Islam and fulfilled the goals of the movement’s leaders, Jamal al-din al-Afghani and Mohammad Abduh.
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