The Impact Of Islam On Kurdish Identity

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Similarly many academics have theorized about the role to which Islam played in the ethnic and nationalist formations of the Kurds. In his essay “The Impact of Islam on Kurdish Identity in the Middle East,” Hakan Ozoglu argues that Kurdish identity evolved through various, overlapping phases with Islam at the core of its formation process, a process he calls “dialectical, dialogical, and monological” (18). First, while the term “Kurd” was not ethnically associated with the modern term Kurd, nevertheless, many proto-Kurds accepted Islam early on in the Islamic expansion period after the death of the Prophet Muhammad and associated politically with the umma as a trans-tribal force (22). Through this first monological process, local Kurdish identities were, while not completely erased, generally subsumed under the …show more content…
By the 17th century, clashes between the Ottoman and Safavid Empires over religion, region, and politics made many people between these two great powers question their own identities in relation to their neighbors or conquerors. This led to a synthesis of understanding one’s narrower sense of identity politically different from the umma, a dialogical development. Being Kurdish did not conflict with the umma but instead provided a functional purpose at the time, allowing the Kurds to worry about their own local concerns instead of the Islamic identity politics of the empires (29). Lastly, with the advent of modern nationalism in the 20th century, competing loyalties between Islam, an inclusive identity, and Kurdish nationalism, an exclusive identity, led to the distinctiveness, dialectical synthesis of being Kurdish (33). Overall, he concludes that Islam played a crucial role in the major stages of the formation of a Kurdish ethnicity and ethnic consciousness. Based on this analysis, the constant pushing and pulling of nationalist ideas and Islamic ones created a unified sense of Kurdish

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