Deniz Baran - Turkey
Mr. Navaid Aziz, can you talk about the activities that you are currently involved in generally?
I am in the UK for Ramadan right now, preparing some Tv programs for the British Muslim TV channel. We make different programs every night and raise money for charity work. We are running a campaign called "Feed Our World" to send food packages in different parts of the world for the people in need. Within this campaign, we are trying to deliver food packages and every package costs 1 pound. Until now we have collected a great number of money, Elhamdulillah.
Generally, I am an imam in Canada, living in the city named as Calgary. I have my own center named as Islamic Information Society of Calgary. We are focusing on social issues such as people being able to make happy marriages and reducing divorces. We also do volunteer activities such as planting trees and building houses. Of course, this center also offers Islamic education. Our İslamic education works in this center are usually two days a week
On the other hand, I work as a director at the Al Maghrib Institute. Of course, besides my administrative duties, I also give lectures on fiqh, hadith and akaid. Al Maghrib İnstitute, offers an alternative education option for Western Muslims who are not fully trained in Islam because they work full-time. We usually do our lessons on weekends. Thus, those who want to study Islam but do not have the opportunity for working life, can participate in our courses.
At the beginning of college years, you had to go from Canada to Medina and study there and it was not an easy decision. What was the basic motivation for taking this hard decision?
Of course, My main motivation to go to Medina was to study religion and to study Islam. However, I can say that September 11th also flourished this desire.
Before September 11, I only wanted to be a good Muslim. In addition to the previous thought, I wanted to be able to express our religion well and to get the necessary education for the people around me.
You do not just stay in your own country. You travel and visit many places for talking and to give lessons. Have you ever been to Turkey?
I came to Turkey twice, but only during transit flights. I didn't had the opportunity to visit your country. I hope that I will come one day.
One of the focal points in your activities seems to be "struggle with extremism". Can you say something about this?
First of all, Islam can not be a matter of extremism according to its definition. What they are saying is that they interpret the content of religion extensively according to their own. They are also those who are already extremist and later Muslim, or who have a parallel to Islam.
In my activities I focus more on violence and criminality. Actually, I oppose those who use it as a means of religious force application to give a political-religious message.
So what are we doing in the context of this struggle? For example, we have one tracking group. We are interacting regularly with the individuals involved in this group, and of course the young people, to remove them from extremist tendencies.
Together with the group, we are trying to build a tolerance idea that reveals all aspects of Islam. We are discussing everything without excluding anything from our interest. We focus on things that will make a positive difference in the society and build trust within the group. In addition to this work, we are conducting workshops on topics such as Islam and Islamophobia.
Would the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States be a relief to the Islamophobic wave?
Trump's election means that the advocates of White Christian supremacy and the rise of Islamophobia are undoubtedly. As can be seen from Trump's attempt to ban Muslims, the first signals from the new administration are in this direction.
In addition, since Trump was elected, the murders of Muslims have also taken place in some of the defenders of the White Christians. In short, yes, this is a problem.
Well, Canada, the neighbor of the United States and your residence, seems to have a very different attitude. What do you think about this?
I totally agree with what you said. The Canadian, Elhamdulillah, immigrants and Muslim communities were much more supportive, and the Canadian Prime Minister himself is protecting and promoting the imagination as a multicultural country. This approach, of course, makes Muslims a part of social touch.
Elhamdullah, this is a blessing. The US and Canada are now going in two different directions.
You are an imam who uses social media as well. What are your recommendations in this regard?
People are nowadays giving their messages in social media. The period of communicating with people only in the mosques has come to an end. With social media, it became possible to communicate your messages everywhere without much effort.
It is important that we can use these facilities efficiently.
The continuing part of the interview with Dr. Ismail Kara
Ismail Kara is arguably the foremost academic expert on Turkish Islamism. Although he is a prolific writer and a public intellectual, his work is little known among non-Turkish speaking audiences.The following interview with Kara aims to close this gap. Micah Hughes, a doctoral candidate at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill translated the original text of the interview from Turkish into English under supervision of Cemil Aydin (UNC Chapel Hill). Interview questions were prepared by Cemil Aydin, Huseyin Yilmaz (GMU), Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu (GMU), Peter Mandaville (GMU) and Ahmet Koroglu (Istanbul University). Ahmet Koroglu provided visual material from Istanbul as well as spearheading the project. Kara's detailed bio information and a list of his publications are presented at the end of the interview text.
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