Sociology Insights


Turkish-Islamic Perspective on Nature

Author(s): Zeynep Doğru and Sefa Bulut

Throughout the history, apart from the basic survival needs, human beings have had a universal interest and attraction to nature and to natural elements. Characteristics of this affiliation and relationship with nature varies across cultures, religions and countries. Turks relation to nature started to take shape in the Central Asian steppes with the belief of Sky God and Shamanist culture, and continued to change and develop with the acceptance of Islam and adoption of settled life style. Before Islam, the mother nature and the natural elements were considered sacred. With the acceptance of Islam in Turkish societies, the attitude towards nature was shaped through hadiths (teachings of the prophet Muhammad) and verses of the Qur’an, and Turks began to approach nature and all living creatures as their protectors. The importance given by the Turks to nature can be detected from the gardens they built in the Seljuk and Ottoman Empire, the use of natural elements in various branches of art such as poetry, miniatures, ceramics, weaving, and proverbs and idioms that draw attention to the importance of the environment and nature. However, in today’s Turkish society, it is observed that the interest and environmentalist attitude towards nature has decreased and the green spaces have been diminished from various areas of life day by day. This negative change in relation to nature is considered as a result of the westernization movements that started in the 18th century. It is thought that with these movements cultural identity has been lost and the relationship with nature has been left to the hands of the authorities.

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