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Title: Interactions between Turkish and Egyptian Islamic thinkers from 1908 to 1952 : modernity and the disruption of Islamic knowledge
Author: Hammond, Andrew
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis is an intellectual history of Late Ottoman Muslim thinkers and how they managed the epistemic disruption of nationalism, Islamic modernism, and the emerging discourse of Salafism. It studies the poet Mehmed Akif (1873-1936), sheikh ül-Islam Mustafa Sabri (1869-1954), and his deputy Zahid Kevseri (1879-1952), all of whom chose exile in Egypt as radical secular forces seized power in republican Turkey. The thesis argues they were the most influential figures in Late Ottoman religious thought, with a lasting impact on Turkish and Arab Islamism that has been obscured by disciplinary conventions that define writers and historical fields along ethnic, linguistic, and national lines. Through a deep reading of Arabic and Ottoman texts it traces their engagement with the ideas of Muhammad ʿAbduh, Muhammad Iqbal, Nasir al-Din al-Albani, Sayyid Qutb, and Said Nursi, outlining a broad history of Islamic thought in the modern period. In Egypt Sabri engaged in extensive debate with the modernist tajdīd trend, which he saw as a calque on Enlightenment notions of religion. One of Mustafa Kemal’s most formidable critics, Sabri was alarmed to find Egypt’s intelligentsia advancing the secular, positivist agenda he had challenged in Istanbul, despite the absence of a Kemalist revolution. Kevseri (aka al-Kawthari) discerned a greater threat from the nascent Salafi movement, with its aggressive restatement of the theology advanced by Ibn Taymiyya and rejection of the juridical methodology of the Sunni legal schools. Kevseri resisted attempts to monopolise the term salafī because of the legitimation it conferred on those claiming to represent the belief and practice of early Muslims; following his death Kevseri’s fate was nevertheless to become al-Albani’s Other in the construction of salafiyya. However, Akif, a modernist who brought ʿAbduh’s thought into the Turkish sphere, made compromises with nationalist ideology that made of him an alternative intellectual mascot of the republic once political Islam gained currency.
Supervisor: Mignon, Laurent Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Middle East ; Shaykh al-Isla¯m ; Theology ; Islam and politics