We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more Akçura, Yusuf - Oxford Islamic Studies Online
Select Translation What is This? Selections include: The Koran Interpreted, a translation by A.J. Arberry, first published 1955; The Qur'an, translated by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, published 2004; or side-by-side comparison view
Chapter: verse lookup What is This? Select one or both translations, then enter a chapter and verse number in the boxes, and click "Go."
:
  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Look It Up What is This? Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Next Result

Akçura, Yusuf

By:
M. Hakan Yavuz
Source:
The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World What is This? Provides comprehensive scholarly coverage of the full geographical and historical extent of Islam

Akçura, Yusuf

Yusuf Akçura (1876–1935) was one of the earliest Turkish-Tatar intellectuals not only to recognize the ideological weakness of the Ottomanism and Islamism of Sultan Abdülhamid II, but also to suggest that nationalism was the logical alternative to these. Akçura's ideas on nationalism developed in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan in Russia, and in Istanbul and Paris. However, it was his connection with Kazan that was the crucial element in the formulation of his thought on nationalism and Islam. Akçura benefited from his experience in Kazan, where modernization and identity formation were taking place before the Ottoman Empire.

Akçura was born in Tatarstan, then moved to Istanbul, but visited Kazan on every summer vacation. Sahabeddin Mercani (1818–1889), a leading modernist religious scholar of Kazan, and Ismail Gaspralï played an important role in his understanding of the relationship between Islam and nationalism. Akçura treated Islam as a national force and used it to raise ethnic conciousness. His Russian experience made him sensitive about the trinity of Islamic identity, Turkish ethnicity, and territoriality. In Istanbul, Akçura studied in the imperial military academy and realized the significance of the state and nationalism. He was exiled to Libya (1897) as a result of his political activities with the illegal Committee of Union and Progress (CUP). His friends helped him to escape from Libya to Paris, where he studied political history in École Libre and met with Dr.  Serafettin Magmumi, a leading CUP nationalist theoretician. In Paris, he wrote several essays in Sura-yi Ummet and Mesveret. His master's thesis focused on the importance of nation rather than state. Akçura argued that nationalism was the only way to preserve the state and Turkish culture.

After receiving his degree from École Libre in 1904, he went to Kazan, where he wrote his most famous article, Üç Tarz-I Siyaset. In this article, Akçura examined the three questions:1. Is the creation of an Ottoman civil nation on the basis of liberty and equality possible? 2. Is it possible to create an Islamic state? 3. Under what conditions can an ethnic-based Turkish nationalism emerge and take political form? After examining the weaknesses and strengths of each option, he identified ethnic-based nationalism as the most viable option. Akçura saw Islam and Turkish nationalism as different layers of identity; for example, he pointed out: “I am an Ottoman Muslim Turk.” Nevertheless, he developed two nuanced arguments about the political future of Russian Muslims and the Ottoman Empire. In the Russian empire he emphasized the role of Islam, whereas in the Ottoman Empire he focused on Turkishness. His views crystallized in his journal Türk Yurdu.

In Kazan, he was elected to the First Muslim Congress held at Nizhniy Novgorod in 1905. Akçura also served in the Russian Parliament (1906–1907). After the closure of the Duma, he wrote a critical booklet about the political situation in Russia and had to move to the Ottoman Empire.

After the CUP revolution in 1908, Akçura was welcomed to Istanbul and he established the Turkish Society, later the Turkish Hearth Association (Türk Ocağı), and published Türk Yurdu in 1911. He tried to raise national consciousness by educating people in history and geography, and reinterpreted history to serve Turkish nationalism. Akçura had a clearer image of homeland and nation than other Ottoman intellectuals because of his Russian and European experience. History, for Akçura, was a way of thinking and mapping society on the basis of evidence deduced through a process of discovering roots and lineages of diverse pieces of information about past events. Building a nation, for Akçura, involved the manipulation of both time and space to create the frame of reference for the historical imagination (ulum ve tarikh).

Akçura's notion of nationalism distinguished itself through two major contributions: his elaboration of the interaction between Islam and nationalism, on the one hand, and of economic conditions and nationalism, on the other.

Bibliography

There are very few studies on Yusuf Akçura. See Francois Georgeon, Türk Milliyetçiliğinin Kökenleri: Yusuf Akçura (1876–1935) (Ankara, 1986) and M. Hakan Yavuz, “Nationalism and Islam: Yusuf Akçura and Üç Tarz-I Siyaset” (Oxford Journal of Islamic Studies, 1995).

  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Look It Up What is This? Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Next Result
Oxford University Press

© 2020. All Rights Reserved. Cookie Policy | Privacy Policy | Legal Notice