The International in Turkish Islamist Thought

Yıldız T., Çıtak Aytürk Z. A.

Millennium: Journal of International Studies, vol.51, no.1, pp.129-156, 2022 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 51 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/03058298221122882
  • Journal Name: Millennium: Journal of International Studies
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Periodicals Index Online, Historical Abstracts, PAIS International, Political Science Complete, Public Affairs Index, Social services abstracts, Sociological abstracts, vLex, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, DIALNET
  • Page Numbers: pp.129-156
  • Keywords: Pan-Islamism, Turkish Islamism, non-Western conceptions of the international, PAN-ISLAMISM, AL-QAEDA, TURKEY, IR, SOVEREIGNTY, CHALLENGE, DISCOVERY, DISCOURSE, WRITINGS, SOCIETY
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This study examines Islamist understanding of change in the international system by inquiring into the conception of the international in Turkish Islamist tradition. It relies on a discourse analysis of Islamist journals’ entire corpus in Turkey from the 1940s to the 2010s. Its founding premise is that the Islamist prescription of change in the international system revolves around the notion of Pan-Islamism. This study first builds on an examination of the five ideological grounds of Pan-Islamism: dogmatic, historical, conjunctural, pragmatic/practical, and emancipatory. It further discusses the embodiment of Pan-Islamism at its two ends: pluralist/thin and monist/thick visions of Pan-Islamism. The analysis brings forth four main findings: First, notwithstanding its persistent claims to authenticity, the Pan-Islamist proposal is a synthetic conception of the international, combining authentic concepts, e.g. the umma, with such conventional concepts as balance of power, understood primarily in terms of alliances and blocs. Second, it does not purport to a significant questioning of the ordering principles of international relations, notably sovereignty and territoriality. Third, the Pan-Islamist proposal is, for the most part, power- and hegemony-oriented, amid its overinflated normative baggage and self-proclaimed anti-imperialism. Fourth, it mainly offers a change in the international rather than a change of the international, therefore discrediting any emancipatory potential it has claimed.