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Modernity Made Meaningful by Conservatism

by Prof. Nilufer Gole on . Posted in Commentaries

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We who have lived in Turkey during the last 20 years have been in a state of shock. We have been swinging back and forth between the desire to catch up with the new age and to know ourselves; wavering among ambition, anger, and excitement; and trying to open a path by hand between our spirit and the world. We are fighting over our unofficial identity and unclear design.

As long as Turkey does not connect its past and future, tradition and modernity, and itself and the world, in Fethullah Gülen Hodjaefendi's words, without keeping the "metaphysical tension" between these, it will remain destabilized. Violence and anarchy are manifestations of this. Gülen's thought favors individual modesty, social conservatism, and Islam in the founding of civilization. It gives examples of modest and tolerant people who have not lost their connection with God, and of the individual worn down by traditional suppression and modern excess. Contrary to the mental impudence and loneliness of Western individuals, the affection that unites faith and knowledge in the "heart culture" gives us the good tidings of a new door of self-confidence being opened. For the first time in Turkey, we are witnessing a deep mixture of conservative thought and liberal tolerance.

Prof. Nilufer Gole, Comments on Ufuk Turu by Eyup Can, Istanbul, 1996