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Mehmet Akif Ersoy
(1873—1936)

Mehmet Akif Ersoy (1873—1936)

Turkish poet and Islamist. Mehmet Akif Ersoy was born in Istanbul to a religious Muslim family; his father was a teacher at Fatih Medrese, and his mother's ancestors were from the Uzbek city of Bukhara. He learned Arabic, Persian, and French privately and studied veterinary medicine at the Halkali Baytar high school, which he finished in 1893. He held various posts as a veterinarian and teacher. In 1908, he began writing and became editor of the monthly Islamist journal The Straight Path (which proclaimed the cause of Islam), later called Fountain of Orthodoxy, to which he contributed poetry and essays. During the Turkish war of independence, he preached the cause of nationalism in the mosques and local newspapers of the Anatolian provinces.

Later in life, Ersoy would become known as one of the greatest poets in modern Turkish and the leader of the most intellectual of the Islamist movements in Turkey. He opposed nationalist reformers who argued that Turkey must import the West's civilization as well as its technology. He contended that the two were not necessarily linked and that importing the ethics and institutions of another culture would widen the cultural gap between elites and common people. Ersoy advocated an Islamic (not a secular) democracy, with a parliament based on consultative councils, as used by the prophet Muhammad's followers.


Turkey, 1956, Akif Mehmet Ersoy

Turkey, 1956, Akif Mehmet Ersoy

Turkey, 1956, Akif Mehmet Ersoy

Turkey, 1986, Mehmet Akif Ersoy

Turkey, 2006, Mehmet Akif Ersoy

Turkey, 2006, Mehmet Akif Ersoy

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