March 17, 2006

Islamic Calvinism And Entrepreneurialism

Apparently, the argument made by Max Weber could also apply to Islamic countries--such as Turkey--dealing with modernity:
Kayseri is one of a handful of cities industrialising at an astonishing rate in Anatolia, Turkey's central province and the country's Islamic heartland.

Unlike the big urban centres of Ankara and Istanbul, the population is made up of devout, conservative Muslims.

Restaurants rarely serve alcohol, unmarried men and women don't mix on the streets, and there is little in the way of nightlife.

Yet the new entrepreneurialism sweeping across the province is providing an unlikely catalyst for a remarkable religious transformation.

A new form of Turkish Islam is emerging here, one which is pro-business and pro-free market, and it's being called Islamic Calvinism.
The opposition claims that Islam itself is responsible for the entrepreneurial spirit, and that the Koran actually encourages this development:
They quote passages from the Quran and from the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad which read like a business manual. They tell me, it's important to create factories, to create jobs - it's what our religion tells us to do."

The label of Islamic Calvinism, however, has caused a furore in the Turkish press.

Critics say it's a Western conspiracy to Christianise Islam, but others have passionately argued in its favour, holding it up as a model for how Islam and modernity can co-exist.
Of course, those arguing that this is nothing more than an attempt to steal Islam's intellectual backing for industrialization, capitalism, free markets and the like all seem to accept that these developments--harbingers of modernity--point to a more enlightened role within the global community. Rather than exporting hate, violence, bombs, and murder, they have been selling products (other than oil, which is not a product but an exploitable natural resource) while still maintaining their personal Islamic piety. It is nice to see them arguing over which tradition (Christian or Muslim) best encourages these positive developments, instead of decrying them as usual as threats to Islam by a greedy, evil West led by Jewish corporate interests. Let us hope this is the sign of a trend.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anthony Gillis said...

There is both promise and danger in this. Promise, because economic modernization -might- take the wind out of islam's sails. Danger, because islam has never included a coherent ideology of economic suicide, as did Communism. While we could sit around and wait for Communism to destroy itself through its sheer unreality, it is not so with islam.

Fri Mar 17, 06:55:00 PM  

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