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Ottoman Ulema, Turkish RepublicAgents of Change and Guardians of Tradition$
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Amit Bein

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780804773119

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804773119.001.0001

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Political Activism and Its Discontents

Political Activism and Its Discontents

(p.77) Chapter Five Political Activism and Its Discontents
Ottoman Ulema, Turkish Republic
Stanford University Press

This chapter discusses the political activism of the ulema, whose involvement in politics became a topic of heated controversy after the Young Turk Revolution. Some ulema insisted that their political activism was necessary to safeguard the Islamic character of the state and defend the interests of the religious establishment, while many others disagreed. Mustafa Sabri Efendi, the figurehead of the conservative ulema, came to epitomize the opportunities and risks of political activism. A little-known religious scholar before 1908, he became a journalist, parliamentary deputy, party leader, and eventually the Sheikh ul-Islam in the years that followed the Young Turk Revolution, and his achievements, travails, and failures illustrate the opportunities, risks, and controversies which accompanied ulema who opted for political activism. In the process, Efendi became a divisive figure within the religious establishment: a hero and source of inspiration for some, and a disgrace and symbol of all that went wrong with the ulema for others.

Keywords:   Ottoman Empire, medreses education, ulema, political activity, political participation, religious establishment, Mustafa Sabri Efendi

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