chapter  12
14 Pages

The Transformation of a Sufi Order into a Lay Community: The Süleymanci Movement in Germany and Beyond

This chapter explores Sufi piety and devotion in Europe with a focus on Turkish lay communities. Like all Sufi orders in Turkey, the three main lay communities to establish themselves in Germany - the Islamic Community of Milli Goriish, the Jamaatunnur (Nurcu) and the Islamic Cultural Centres (Silleymanci) - lead an existence that is, of necessity, in opposition to the Turkish State. In 1923, when Kemal Atatiirk founded the Turkish Republic on the principles of republicanism, populism, laicism and revolution, he radically effaced any religious influence on matters of state. He abolished the Sufi orders, closed their centres and razed many mosques to the ground. The religious elite were either 'retired' or jailed and the use of Arabic as a liturgical language was eradicated. It took the Turkish government another 30 years to install a state-controlled form of worship, so-called laicist Islam. 1 Meanwhile, the demolishing of the religious infrastructure of the country created a crisis amongst the rural population of Anatolia and beyond, robbing them of their main social compass and resource for knowledge (Mardin, 1989: ix).