Modern by Tradition: Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī and the New Turkish Theology Open Access

Dorroll, Philip Christopher (2013)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/ns0646549?locale=en
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Abstract

Liberal reformist Islamic theology has a long history in the Republic of Turkey. This tradition has roots in the late Ottoman period and remains influential in Turkey. Despite the importance of this tradition of thought, it remains understudied due to the predominance of certain analytical paradigms in the study of Islam in Turkey. These paradigms assume that modernity and Islamic tradition are inherently incompatible. Previous studies have therefore neglected Islamic thinkers in Turkey who do not see modernity and Islamic tradition as incompatible. This dissertation aims to address this gap in the scholarly literature by analyzing the works of a group of contemporary liberal Turkish theologians and discussing their interpretation of an important ninth century SunnÄ« dogmatic theologian, AbÅ« Manṣūr al-MÄturÄ«dÄ«. This dissertation will argue that the use of premodern traditions of Islamic thought to support modernity demonstrates that modernity and tradition are not dichotomous, but that modernity is predicated upon specific reinterpretations of tradition.

Chapter One analyzes the dichotomy posited in the scholarly literature between tradition and modernity and utilizes the hermeneutic philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer to demonstrate that tradition and modernity should not be seen as dichotomous, but that change and reform should be seen as rooted in tradition itself. Chapter Two analyzes the works of AbÅ« Manṣūr al-MÄturÄ«dÄ« and attempts to identify the aspects of his theology that are most interesting to modern Turkish commentators, specifically his realist and empiricist theological epistemology. Chapter Three analyzes the reception of AbÅ« Manṣūr al-MÄturÄ«dÄ«'s theological ideas by his later followers, and argues that his realist epistemology was abandoned by later MÄturÄ«dÄ« tradition. Chapter Four discusses how AbÅ« Manṣūr al-MÄturÄ«dÄ« came to be identified with modern Turkish national tradition and analyzes the key elements of the modern rediscovery of AbÅ« Manṣūr al-MÄturÄ«dÄ«'s realism by a school of liberal Turkish theology that I refer to as "Turkish Neo-MÄturÄ«dism." Chapter Five details the political aspects of the "Turkish Neo-MÄturÄ«dÄ«" school of thought, including its posited ideological enemies and the ideological interventions it makes into Turkish politics.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Modernity and Secularism in the Study of Islam in Modern Turkey............1


Chapter One: Recovering the Traditional in Contemporary Islamic Theology................24


Chapter Two: Roots of Turkish Theological Modernity, I: Notions of Paradox, Change,

and Continuity in the Work of AbÅ« Manṣūr al-MÄturÄ«dÄ«.............................................66


Chapter Three: Roots of Turkish Theological Modernity, II: Paths not Taken in

MÄturÄ«dÄ« Thought............................................................................................122


Chapter Four: Reason and the Rediscovery of MÄturÄ«dÄ« in Contemporary Turkey:

Articulating a National Turkish Tradition of Islamic Theology....................................168


Chapter Five: The Concept of the Political and the Uses of MÄturÄ«dÄ« "Rationalism"

(Akılcılık) in Contemporary Turkish Theology.........................................................234


Conclusion: An Islamic Theology of Liberalism.......................................................286


Bibliography...................................................................................................305


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