GSU Fulbright Scholars study Islam in Turkey

This summer Grambling State University Fulbright Scholars, under the direction of program director Dr. Sue Abraham, were afforded the opportunity to study the culture of Turkey. One topic that was studied was religion in Turkey, particularly Islam. "Islam" means submission to the will of God. Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is one who submits to God and is a believer in Islam. Today, 98% of the Turkish population is Muslim. Attending lectures was one of the ways in which the scholars learned about Islam. Dr. Mehmet PaAaci, Professor, Faculty of Theology at Ankara University, lectured on the topic "Islam:Origins and Basic Principle." PaAaci said that there are five main doctrines of Islam: faith in the unity of God, angels as helpers of God, belief in the scriptures and the prophets (Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job, Moses, David, and Jesus), final judgment (in the hereafter judged by just god), and divine decree (predestination). He said, "God is omniscient. He knows everything that is going to happen. Muslims have 99 names for God that name his attributes." PaAaci said that there are five main pillars of Islam (basic principles) meant to guide each Muslim onto the path of right behavior. The first is shahada (faith), "There is no god but God. Muhammad is the messenger of God." The second is salat (prayer) five times a day at set times. The third is zakat (almsgiving). The fourth is sawm (fasting), and the fifth is Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca). Another lecture on the Islamic faith was given in Izmir at Dokuz Eylul Univeristy by Recep Yaparel. During his lecture, entitled Islamic Thought and Practice, Yaparel said that the core point of Islamic religion is the unity of all life of creatures, wholeness. He said, "The core teaching of the Qur’an is coherence. The Qur’an is the pure Divine Word revealed through the Prophet’s heart." Yaparel said that the concept of God in the Qur’an is that God (Allah) is accepted as the absolute author of the universe. "God creates, orders, and gives mercy." He said that two verses related to this concept of God are "To Him belong creativity and ordering or commanding" (VII, 54) and "My mercy (rahmet) encompasses everything" (VII, 156). In addition, the Fulbright Scholars learned about Islam by visiting mosques and museums in Turkey. They visited The Great Mosque and the Green Mosque in Bursa, Haci Bayram Mosque in Ankara, Mevlana Mosque in Konya, and the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet) and the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum in Istanbul. Sue Ellen Dopp was the personwho provided the group with information about these cites. Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Brenda Wall, head of the sociology and psychology department at GSU, said, "Religion in Turkey is dynamic and appears to bemore central to everyday life than it is in the United States." Wall said that although the level of religiosity may parallel the different levels of belief in thiscountry, in Turkey, people are more cognizant ofritual and one’s relationship to acceptable religious practice. "This is evident in the daily calls to prayer," she said. Another Scholar, a music professor at Oakwood College in Huntville, Ala., Dr. Eurydice Osterman, shared what she learned about Islamic. "It is recorded that the religion of Islam originated in the 7th century in Arabia (Mecca and Medina). Muhammad, the Prophet, went to a cave and received the first revelation on Islam that resulted in the production of the Qur’an, the oral and written Word of God, the authoritative source of Islamic doctrine and practice. It contains 114 chapters revealed to the Prophet during a period of 23 years – from 606 to 632," she said. The legacy of this religious past can be seen in Turkey in places such as the temples dedicated to Zeusand Athena and the Mevlana Tekkesi of Konya. Founded in Konya by the mystic and poet Mevlana CelaleddinRumi, this sect influenced Islamic thought throughoutthe Middle East.