Immanuel Wallerstein, who is influenced by Marxism, says Europe went through an important stage during “a prolonged period extending roughly from the 1450s into the 1600s”.
And what is that stage?
According to him, in the West, the preceding age in which “everything was controlled by the state” came to an end and was followed by an emergence of structures that were independent of government.
The Muslim world, on the contrary, is still at an “early stage” in that the state controls all and there is no autonomous sphere.
That’s why we don’t see any global brand originating from the Muslim world. “Tiny Israel” is competing with the whole of the Islamic world in obtaining patent rights!
Here is what Wallerstein says: “No matter what, you need to strengthen the spheres that remain outside the state.” Otherwise everything will proceed along a “bureaucratic logic”, which inevitably leads to “routine outcomes that can only be expected from civil servants”!
The Hizmet Movement
The Hizmet Movement is in a way an attempt to achieve what Wallerstein says, but from a Muslim’s point of view on a global level.
Islamic history is a history of the state since the Umayyad Caliphate. Or take another example: how many companies were founded in 16th century Turkey and how many of them have survived?
We need to ask ourselves: across the whole of Anatolia, why are there no great historical cities with stone monuments like Vienna or Prague?
Because the state is everywhere. Why would people think of erecting stone buildings unless you grant them the land as their private property? When did the Ottomans enact the Land Law?
Now, if the Hizmet Movement “seizes the opportunity”, it may become an entity that achieves to survive independent of the state, in a truly Wallersteinian sense.
Two important things
On a global level, the Hizmet Movement exerts a huge amount of soft power. Wherever you go across the world, you’ll see that it is considered a “movement that keeps away from violence and encourages cross-cultural dialogue”.
Let me put it plainly. People say, “There are groups here who are cutting others’ heads off, and others who recklessly do anything; but at least there is the Hizmet Movement and even if we don’t like it, we have to sit down and talk to them.”
In other words, the Hizmet Movement has generated a “global strategic value that cannot be ignored”.
Today, who is building schools in Afghanistan where girls can get education? Who is going to open schools in places where the Boko Haram massacres people and argues modern education is “haram” (forbidden).
If we gathered a hundred intellectuals and asked them, “List the global Islamic movements that avoid violence and propose we live together within a democratic framework…?” What answer would we get?
Second, apart from those who manage to remain clean, some Islamic communities in Turkey and many other countries have turned into a kind of “religious real estate agents”.
Many religious groups put their radio stations and newspapers at the government’s disposal and in return are granted various material gains. Technically speaking, we may call them “real estate-type communities”.
A religious movement that puts their “newspapers or other capabilities at the disposal of politics” in expectation of anything from the state may as well commit suicide.
As for the Hizmet Movement, it is struggling to stand on its own legs. Anyone with an idea about history (and Islamic history) will know how important that is.
Back to Wallerstein… “Those who manage to survive without the state, they are capable of fearless thought, they try to do the things they want and they can take risks”.
In short, suffering blows from the state nowadays, the Hizmet Movement “may turn present difficulties into a historical opportunity” and become an actor with at least some global leverage.
Published on BGNNews, 15 February 2015, Sunday