The İsmailağa community and its relationship with the AK party

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This article aims to demonstrate the importance of the relationship between the Naqshbandi Ismailağa community and the AK Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, “Justice and Development Party”) government. As one of the most widespread Sufi brotherhoods in the world, the strength of the Naqshbandiyya lies in its characteristic combination of strict adherence to religious law and active involvement in social and political affairs. The İsmailağa community, one of five main Naqshbandi communities in Turkey, is highly conservative and traditional, historically dominated by elders who have remained aloof from any power struggles within the Turkish government. While the AK Party has developed ties with religious orders in recent years, including the Ismailağa, some voices within the Ismailağa community have become critical of this relationship, leading to a rift within the community. In addition, since 2013, and especially after the attempted coup of July 2016, the AK Party has lost the support of its old ally, the Fethullah Gülen movement. This article examines the relationship between the AK Party and religious movements in Turkey as reflected via its relationship with Ismailağa, and assesses whether the Fethullah Gülen movement can be replaced as a party ally by the Ismailağa community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-299
Number of pages24
JournalDemocracy and Security
Issue number3
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
At the same time, the Islamic sciences (ulum) are more prevalent in the city than in a village.15 İsmailağa community members take their affiliation with Sunni Islam so seriously, they call themselves “ehli Sünnet ve cemaat” (people of tradition and community), and members address each other as “ihvan” or “ihvan kardeşimiz” (our brothers). While the community is sponsored by the İsmailağa foundation (İsmailağa Vakfı), it also receives financial support from associations close to the AK Party, such as Knowledge and Wisdom House (Bilgi ve Hikmet Evi), Science and Service Association (İlim Ve Hizmet Vakfı), and the Association for Scientific Research and Culture (İlim Araştırma ve Kültur Derneği).16

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • AK party
  • Erdoğan
  • Ismailağa
  • Mahmut Efendi
  • Naqshbandiyya


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