The Administration of Religion in a Majority Muslim Nation-State: The Case of Turkey’s Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı) and Pakistan’s Ministry of Religious Affairs
The Republic of Turkey has a formidable and well-financed establishment for the management of Islam, which offers a vigorous and active state-society relation at both the state and at the grassroots levels. What is perhaps most notable concerning this type of governance of Islam is Turkey’s national history. It is most remarkable that Turkey with its majority Muslim population and its designation as a secular republic has established such a massive and effective bureaucracy for the administration of Islam, which is far larger and more extensive than that of Pakistan, a state that describes itself as an Islamic republic. and officially acknowledges the Islamic law in its constitution. The main institutions for the administration of Islam in Turkey, the Directorate of Religious Affairs [Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı, commonly abbreviated as Diyanet) not only has a substantial administrative bureaucracy across the country for religious services related to Islam but also oversees a vast staff of religious personnel such as imams, hatips, vaiz, muftis, Qur’an teachers, counselors, and administrators. It is well known that the budget of Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı has been rising since its inception, especially in the last two decades, making it a substantial budget currently. It must be acknowledged that the current high level of expenditure on religious affairs reflects the AK party of President Erdogan, yet it is also true that the origins and expansion of this religious bureaucracy took place by an authoritarian secularist Turkish government during the early 1920s. Whereas in Pakistan, a nation-state built for the Muslims in the Indian sub-continent, the Ministry of Religious Authority (MRA) was not even built during its inception in 1947. Instead, its establishment took place 27 years after the Islamic Republic of Pakistan’s birth. Moreover, during the next half a century MRA has not developed much in becoming a successful bureaucratic institution for administrating Islam at both state and grassroots levels. It is important to try to explore the reasons behind this stagnation and attempt to pinpoint the various impediments and obstacles lying in the path of MRA in Pakistan becoming as successful as the Diyanet in Turkey.
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