It looks like the East-West argument will be rekindled once again. What constantly meddles in people’s minds like a “horse fly”, which is the description from Peyami Safa, and is frequently discussed is actually a civilization face-off.
It was inevitable for this barren argument of modern times to be rekindled after a religious shadow had fallen on the political developments in the Middle East equation. The journalists, who were in the claim of presenting a deep theoretical view to exceed the shallowness of a journalist, had approached the issue as if they were re-writing the history of civilization. Even though they were few in numbers, there were some between those ranks, who had dogmatized the Islam civilization by saying that it couldn’t produce an answer against the modern West, either got stuck in the past or didn’t serve for anything other than producing violence in the name of Islam. Even though it is not this sharp, an eclectic language is dominant within the conservative segment. There are plenty of academicians and journalists, who, in the name of putting a distance with the groups in the region that are dealing with weapons, are developing stale arguments on the topic that Islam is democratic and modern, sternly to the political conjuncture.
To be honest, we should confirm that in the base of the East-West argument, which is ongoing for two centuries, lies the civilization issue, and that two separate civilizations’ visualizations are conflicting. The issues from technology and development, political models to life styles, and in matters that are not really independent, are all only composed of the reflections of this visualization. We are talking about a totalitarian concept that is related with people and life, ranging from ideas to technology, and from human types to ideologies.
From a rightful position and by putting his feelings in the middle, Mustafa Kutlu had asked a question to the discussion that had been reflected in parts of last week’s columns. Tell me what I’m going to do! While rioting against the groans of the Muslim intellectuals, he had arrayed all different types of intellectual groaning, which ranges from modernity criticism to conspiracy theories. The ones, who are stuck in the past, what the Westerners regard as the golden age nostalgia are the ones who leveled off with the blending of Heidegger, Faucoult and İbn-I Arabi… In the end, he says, tell me what I have to do.
Of course nobody has a prescription for the solution, which had been lined up clause by clause. Though, life continues and people would want solutions for the problems they are facing.
Right at this point, I think that how the question will not be answered is more important than how it will be.
Since encountering the West’s technological power in the military field, and thus, started to discover that something is going wrong, the Ottoman intellectuals had looked for a way out. Especially, during the final Ottoman period, the lift off point of the argument between Westerner and local/Islamist intellectuals was actually related with the answer that would be given to the “how can we be saved” question.
Even though the manifestations of it were different in the Republic of Turkey, similar to the Islamic world after the Ottomans, the essential of the bases had never changed. The Republic of Turkey had officially made a choice, made the decision of changing the civilization and adopted Western values in every field. The problem of the Muslim intellectuals was their support and effort in settling accounts with the West, the environment they are in, and pursuing the conditions of existence for the Muslim public with their own values.
The factual bonds with the tradition, which had been taken over, had been ruptured, and from that point on, the intellectuals, who had passed from secular education, had taken on this case, rather than the ulama (Islamic scholar) intellectual type, who had been equipped with the basic Islamic education that originates from the madrasah. Even though its scales can be argued from the sense of equipment, the issues they encountered and the dangers they faced were more terrifying. Besides, they were in search of formulating an Islamic thinking and activity, within the disorder that is being experienced for the first time in the history of Islam. During this process, it could be seen that everyone had tried to deal with similar situations with different sect, accumulation and expression. Possibly, some of their ideas can be at an eclectic that could be meaningless today…. If we can say that we had exceeded those arguments today, then, even if we like it or not, this is the heritage of the intellectual pursuits of those names, even if partially.
And, the common quality of the intellectuals and thinkers, and what makes them different, in the present period, is that they are asking meaningful questions instead of presenting prescriptions that are ready in their pockets. No cures, which would tick all the boxes, could have been expected from a generation, which had been born from the ashes of the fire, to the questions of a couple of centuries that had piled up.
The second important thing that had been done by this generation was the attempt of drawing the frame of what’s ideal. Even though they cannot fill it, they are an owner of an idea….
It’s impossible to find valid answers, without asking meaningful questions. Rather than looking for answers for questions that are misleading and meaningless, I care more about asking questions that will lead to the target, suitable and meaningful.