Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

July 2011
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EDITORIAL

Turkey's Vote for Stability
The victory of the Justice and Development Party (AKP as the Turkish acronym goes) in the third successive election for the National Parliament, should be seen as a vote for stability. The party has retained power with a 49.9 per cent vote, although it is slightly less than its previous record. It is good augury that the AKP lost some seats this time to some opposition parties as fears of too much authority accumulating in the hands of Prime Minister Tayyib Erdogan had led to fears of authoritarianism returning to the style of governance. This will necessitate the ruling party to build a consensus among various political parties and social groups for a revision in the country’s Constitution which it has been constantly hinting at. This will essentially help the Turks to avert dissonance and divergence at a time when the Turkish national economy is booming.
The AKP has gradually built up its reputation with the people ever since it first came to power in 2003. Turkey was then doing very badly as far as economy was concerned. Today it is the 16th largest economy in the world and its GNP stands at $740 billion a year. The party’s governance took cognizance of some of the most pressing problems such as road building across the nation, health care improvement and housing. All these have endeared it to the voters.
The AKP’s plan to review the Constitution however leaves scope for doubt for many. The proposed transition from the prime ministerial system to Presidential system a la the US and France, is not viewed kindly by many in a nation that has experimented with thriving multi-party system during the last eight decades. While some opponents sniff danger to the democracy, others see it as a red rag for the upholders of secularism, given the AKP’s mildly Islamic credentials.
But overall, the results do signify a massive endorsement for the vast strides the country has made in proposals such as massive investment in infrastructure development by 2023.
Sensitivity towards Converts
Born Muslims should be far more sensitive to new converts to the faith. By imposing a ritualistic brand of Islam on them, they are not doing dawah, but only driving them away from the religion.
There are tons of people in the community who mentally and emotionally “terrorise” new converts to Islam, with terrible consequences if they do not follow their brand of Islam. So much so, that these converts flee from Islam back to their old faith.
Treating new converts to Islam like “prized catch” and imposing rites and rituals on them to make them “pure Muslims” has become a past-time for some Muslim groups floating in the society today. They even go to the extent of threatening the convert with a “place in hell” if he or she reads the literature of other religions or communities. Even marriages to new converts is publicized by the parties concerned so much, that the prospective bride of the new convert or vice versa is labeled a “ person of the paradise” by the relatives!
Some Muslim groups wearing religion on their sleeves and with a self-righteous attitude appoint themselves as the “caretakers” of these converts and attempt to mould them into their orthodox style of Islam.
Why don’t born Muslims inculcate some sense of sensitivity towards those who wish to come into Islam or have embraced the religion, by giving them the freedom to reflect on the spirit, rather than just the rituals of Islam? Their discovery of God and faith is a personal journey, and when we throw our own impositions on them, it will only make their journey rough and tough.
In search of our own heaven, we end up making their lives a hell!