Apolitical Interpretation of Islam: Said Nursi's Faith-Based Activism in Comparison with Political Islamism and Sufism
In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, Islam has generally been represented in the media as a political ideology and some academics have over-emphasized this political image of Islam. These are not baseless speculations; there are several political Islamic groups worldwide. However, there are also many apolitical Islamic groups. This article analyzes one of the most influential apolitical Islamic movements in the world, the Nurcus, and its founder, Bediüzzaman Said Nursi. Nursi, the author of the Risale-i Nur collection, emphasized the ascetic aspect of Islam: 'Ninety-nine percent of Islam is about ethics, worship, the hereafter, and virtue. Only one percent is about politics; leave that to the rulers.' He also added, 'I seek refuge in God from Satan and [party] politics.' Through the analysis of Nursi's thought and activism, the article will try to answer the following questions: Was Nursi a Sufi? What are the theological and structural bases of Nursi's apolitical interpretation of Islam? What is the impact of the secular state in Turkey on the development of Nursi's apolitical outlook and activism? What does his apolitical understanding of Islam say to non-Turkish Muslims who do not live in a secular state?
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2008-01-01
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