Chapter

Preface by the Translator

Abdullah Cevdet

in Modernist Islam, 1840-1940

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780195154672
Published online November 2007 |
 Preface by the Translator

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Abdullah Cevdet (Turkey, 18691932) was a leading publicist and freethinker who used Islam to promote modernization and materialism. Cevdet was a devout Muslim and had even written a eulogy of the Prophet, until his education at the Royal Military Academy in Istanbul turned him toward European materialism. According to Cevdet, science is the religion of the elite, whereas religion is the science of the masses. He therefore argued that materialism should be promoted in Islamic termsstitched onto an Islamic jacket, as he put it. In 1889, he helped to found the Ottoman Union Committee, later called the Committee of Union and Progress, whose opposition to Ottoman absolutism led to their exile. In 1904, he founded the journal ctihad (Rational Interpretation) in Geneva, Switzerland, later moving it to Cairo, Egypt. While Europeans considered the journal Islamist, it faced considerable opposition from Ottoman Muslims, culminating in the unprecedentedly negative reaction to Cevdet's Turkish translation of Reinhart Dozy's controversial work on the history of Islam. This translationwhose introduction is presented herewas banned, and all existing copies were confiscated. Despite having founded the organization that came to power in the Constitutional Revolution of 1908, Cevdet could not return from exile until 1911. In subsequent years, Cevdet became increasingly open in his campaign against religiosity, including a notorious article ridiculing prayer. In the Turkish Republic, Cevdet's closest associates entered parliament, while he was stigmatized as a collaborator of the European Allies occupation of Istanbul after World War I, and as a Kurdish nationalist.1

Chapter.  1574 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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