Tayyip Erdogan's Cave of Wonders

What Gulen means by science is of an entirely different order than the Western understanding. This "imam from rural Anatolia," as his website describes him, inhabits the magical world of jinns and sorcery. Science is just a powerful form of magic of which Turks should avail themselves to enhance their power, as he writes in his 2005 book The Essentials of the Islamic Faith:

Jinn are conscious beings charged with divine obligations. Recent discoveries in biology make it clear that God created beings particular to each realm. They were created before Adam and Eve, and were responsible for cultivating and improving the world. Although God superseded them with us, he did not exempt them from religious obligations.

As nothing is difficult for God almighty, he has provided human beings, angels and jinns with the strength appropriate for their functions and duties. As he uses angels to supervise the movements of celestial bodies, he allows to humans to rule the Earth, dominate matter, build civilizations and produce technology.

Power and strength are not limited to the physical world, nor are they proportional to bodily size ... Our eyes can travel long distances in an instant. Our imagination can transcend time and space all at once ... winds can uproot trees and demolish large buildings. A young, thin plant shoot can split rocks and reach the sunlight. The power of energy, whose existence is known through its effect, is apparent to everybody. All of this shows that something's power is not proportional to its physical size; rather the immaterial world dominates the physical world, and immaterial entities are far more powerful than material ones.

He goes on to warn about sorcery and the danger of spells; he allows that it is meritorious to break spells (for evil witches are everywhere casting spells), although a good Muslim should not make a profession of this, for then he might be mistaken for a sorcerer himself. The notion that "wind" and "energy" are "immaterial" forces exudes the magical world view of an Anatolian peasant; the miracles of technology are the secret actions of jinn, just as the planetary movements are the actions of angels. When Gulen talks about the union of religion and science, what he means quite concretely is that the magical view of jinns in the Koran aids the believer in enlisting these "immaterial" forces to enhance the power of Islam. Science for Gulen simply means the management of jinn. By our standards he is mad as a march hare.

Gulen is a shaman, a relic of pre-history preserved in the cultural amber of eastern Anatolia. Kemalism was sterile, brutal, secular and rational; the "moderate Islam" of Gulen is magical, a mystic's vision of Ottoman restoration and a pan-Turkic caliphate. Erdogan, his acolyte, lives in a world where witches and jinn mix with Zionists and "Islamophobes." American presidents would do well to find a better class of friends.

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage assembled from multiple Shutterstock.com images.)