As a person who strives to be involved in numerous fields of social and political life, I have been writing columns and articles in various journals and newspapers, including Daily Sabah, as the head of a research institute. My weekly columns, in particular, demand the arduous development of sound arguments regarding rapidly changing social and political agendas.
I am writing this column in Qatar’s Doha, where I am going to give a speech on Turkey’s cultural mission at the invitation of the Yunus Emre Institute (YEE). Taking part in cultural diplomacy, I would like to underline the significance of the state’s cultural capital in the international arena.
The YEE is an international organization that aims to promote Turkey, the Turkish language and Turkish cultural history. The Western states have long been promoting their own cultural values through international organizations.
In the cultural aspect of international relations, Turkey’s experience began with the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA). Along with the YEE, the Maarif Foundation was founded to establish schools and institutions to share Turkey’s educational capital with the countries in our region.
As a dynamic country, Qatar comes to the forefront in the international system with its cultural diplomacy. Serving as the ambassador of the Republic of Turkey in Doha, Mehmet Mustafa Göksu is from a rising generation of Turkish diplomats. Apart from his academic background, Göksu worked in numerous civil society institutions, served as a commercial attache and has extensive experience in the Middle East. In a short span of time, Göksu put his signature on remarkable activities, such as the upcoming reception held with Qatari people with Turkish citizenship.
In our conference at the YEE, we will focus on the historical phases of Turkish culture, Turkey’s cultural mission and the cultural rapprochement between Qatar and Turkey.
Being one of the ancient cultures, Turkish culture derives from its heritage in ruling a good number of empires. Turkish culture took its main form when it was synthesized with Islam in Transoxiana and made its distinct mark on the history of humanity.
When Turkish culture encountered Islamic culture, non-Arab Muslims, who were called Mawla, became a political power in the Islamic world. In their struggle against the Umayyads, the Abbasids succeeded in securing the support of the Turkish people.
During this period, Transoxiana became the cultural center of the world, where the cultures of Indian, Chinese, Turkish and Caucasian peoples influenced each other amid coexistence.
It was also a religious center that was a mixture of different religions from Judaism and Christianity to pagan religions. This multicultural and multireligious region became the cultural center of the world with its thriving cities of Bukhara, Samarkand, Tashkent and Khiva.
Originated in Mecca, Islam took the form in Medina and spread across the world from Baghdad and Transoxiana. During the Abbasid period, Islamic civilization thrived in culture and sciences, producing great Islamic scholars who translated the classical works of ancient Greece, India and China into Arabic.
After the end of the Abbasid period, Turks led the Islamic culture toward the West. Founded in Persian lands, the Seljuks directed the Islamic expansion toward Anatolia. In the 16th century, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul, became the new cultural and scientific center of the world. In the reign of Sultan Mehmet II (the Conqueror), Islamic scholars were the prominent representatives of scientific and religious knowledge of the age.
After a long period of recession and regression, the tide turns again in favor of Islamic and Turkish culture. Our future will resemble our past.
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