Rethinking Piety and the Veil Under Political Islam: Unveiling Among Turkish Women After 2016

Semiha Topal 1 *

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp. 99-123

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This paper covers how the merging of political Islam and the Turkish state led to the monopolization of public Islam and describes how the erasing of diverse meanings underlying Islamic ethical practices has led pious Muslim women to unveil as part of their search for their own subjectivity without falling into the binary of Islamist and secularist political projects. Towards illustrating the search for non-politicized piety, I refer to the narratives of six informants. Their stories reveal that the attempt of cultivating non-politicized piety still takes place within, and in relation to the political upheavals created by the political rule as it shifts into authoritarianism. Contrary to the framing of unveiling as a repudiation of Islamic norms, the cases of unveiling in this study aim to show how acts of unveiling communicate an intricate form of political and religious agency expressed from within an insecure, vulnerable position. More than all, they express the difficulty of establishing and maintaining an Islamic self-cultivation regimen under the shadow of a political symbolism that has been hoisted upon a major tool of this pious self-construction.  

Keywords: Muslim women, piety, veiling, unveiling, secularism, Islamism, Turkey.