Question 1: What were the dominant social groups in Turkey prior to the spread of Islam?
Answer 1: Islam spread to Turkey during the 7th and 8th centuries through invading Arabic armies that would eventually form the Abbasid Caliphate. Prior to this, Turkey was made up of a variety of Central Asian tribal cultures that practiced shamanistic religions and traveled to present-day Turkey. These people were often merchants and farmers and organized their society based on kinship networks where various warlords ruled over certain territories. There were Mongolians, Buddhists and Turkic people.
Question 2: What are some of the most widespread misconceptions about Islam today?
Answer 2: Some of the most common widespread conceptions about Islam are that it is a religion of violence. Muhammad was a very peaceful figure and the Muslim Holy book, the Qu’ran, advocates peace over violence. Another misconception is that they are cruel to women. They have different cultural beliefs, but this does not always mean cruelty. Finally, another misconception is that Islam is very different from Christianity and Judaism when in fact all of them are closely related.
Question 3: Which Western countries colonized your Middle East country and how did their colonization shape the development of different social forms in different spheres of influence?
Answer 3: Turkey was never colonized by a European power. However, they had relations and had been invaded by European powers such as Britain during World War II. The influence of its relationship with Europe did change Turkey. Turkey has become more secular than its Middle Eastern neighbors and spheres like government are not ran by Islamic principles.
Question 4: What were some of the different paths to national self-determination experienced by groups in your chosen Middle East country?
Answer 4: The most prominent path to self-determination in Turkey was the Turkish Nationalists, especially under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. They rebelled against the partition of Turkey following World War I. They did this through different political meetings and rallies that emphasized the ethnic Turkish background they all shared. Another path was to recall the greatness of the Ottoman Empire and to the point to it with pride, using it as a vehicle to argue that they should be allowed self-determination. Finally, some groups, such as fundamental Islamic groups in Turkey have seen Islam as the greatest national symbol of Turkey that should be their uniting force toward self-determination. This was especially rampant following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles to end WWI.