The Nation and its Sermons: Islam, Kemalism and the Presidency of Religious Affairs in Turkey

Gürpınar D., Kenar C.

MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, vol.52, no.1, pp.60-78, 2016 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 52 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/00263206.2015.1076797
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.60-78
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This article will attempt to develop an in-depth examination of the pivotal role of Islam in the articulation of Turkish nationalism and Turkish official identity by examining the sermons authorized and imposed by the Presidency of Religious Affairs (PRA), the state agency regulating religion, and how the their cosmologies of social, moral and political order are entwined. We will further argue that this role involves a twofold process; firstly, the Muslim identity was imagined as a prerequisite for being considered as a Turk and a Turkish citizen and, secondly, the cultural intimacy' of Turkish nationalism is grounded on the root paradigms' inherited and attained from the Islamic tradition and theology. These arguments are particularly pertinent at a time when Islamist JDP (Justice and Development Party) consolidated its power and began to instrumentalize PRA for its priorities and visions of Islam. This, however, does not bring a radical reshuffling of PRA. On the contrary, the continuity from the Kemalist-monitored PRA to the JDP-monitored PRA can be attested not only in its organizational features but also in its ideological make up; especially in terms of its perceptions of society, state and social order.