North Cyprus
Today is Monday, 11th December 2017

North Cyprus Religion

Islam

The majority of the population of Northern Cyprus are considered to be Muslims. As such their religion is Islam. But what is Islam?

Islam is derived from the Arabic word which means "peace" and "submission". The teachings of Islam state that one can only find peace in their lives by submitting to the Almighty God (Allah) in heart, soul, and deed. The same word in Arabic also gives us the common Muslim greeting of "Salaam alaykum" ("Peace be with you"). Anyone who follows the teachings of Islam is considered a Muslim.

Islam is based on five articles or principals which are referred to as the "5 pillars of Islam".

The 5 pillars of Islam are as follows:

  • To bear witness that there is none worthy of worship save Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.
  • To observe Prayer (Salat).
  • To Pay Zakat (Alms giving)
  • To perform the Pilgrimage to the House of Allah (Hajj).
  • To observe fasting during Ramadhan.

It is believed that formal prayer which falls under the 2nd pillar of Islam is the most important act of worship. Prayer is the follower’s connection to Allah through which they may gather strength, guidance, and peace of mind. According to Islam this prayer must be conducted 5 times a day (before dawn, noon, afternoon, after sunset, and evening).

This repetition of prayer is done five times a day as a refresher of their beliefs, and a break from their daily lives to remember Allah and his teachings. Each morning Muslims are supposed to wake up and cleanse themselves with water. Then they must present themselves to Allah for the first prayer of the day.

The Hajj or pilgrimage to the house of Allah (house of God) must be done once in a person’s life time (4th pillar of Islam). This trip that takes the person to Mecca (Saudi Arabia) is only expected of a person of sane mind and able body who is able bear the expenses of said journey. This trip is not obligatory of the children, sick, or those unable to bear the cost of the journey.

The centre of the shrine and object of the pilgrimage is what is known as the Kaaba. The Kabba is the central shrine of Islam and is the cube shaped stone structure that is said to be the first place of worship built to worship Allah. This structure was said to have been built by Hz Abraham and Hz Ishmael.

Like Turkey most of the citizens of Northern Cyprus who are Muslims are followers of Sunni Islam. Two of the most known groups of Muslims are the Sunnis which come from the Sunnah tradition and the Shais who come from Shiat Hz Ali, which is the party of Hz Ali.

The split that formed these two camps was based on a question of the rule of succession after Muhammad’s death. After this initial split the gap between the two camps widened as differences over theology and practice came up. Besides that the Sunnis believe that the Koran and the Hadith are complete and always correct source of religious guidance that only require the deductive elaboration by scholars. On the other hand the Shias accept an additional piece of text. This additional text is said to have been handed to Hz Ali by Muhammad and may be expanded and revealed by divinely inspired Imams who are descendents of Hz Ali.

In the end with a fair amount of certainty it can be stated that Turkish Cypriots are among the most secular of Islamic peoples that you will find in the world. Both British rule, the closeness to the Turkish Republic, and the reforms of said country aided in forming

Turkish Cypriots in to the secular society that they are today

In general few people attend Friday prayers in Northern Cyprus and most believe that their religion is a personal matter and as such do not impose their beliefs on others.
Some may fast for the month of Ramadan but in reHz Ality few do, and even those that do, do not live an orthodox (strict) life the rest of the year. Most if not all Cypriots do not adhere to standard Muslim teachings that require that people abstain from drinking alcohol.

There are groups who oppose this secularism in the TRNC and have actively campaigned to see it come to an end. Most of these groups in the past have originated in Saudi Arabia and Libya. Both countries wanted to see what they call an upsurge in Islamism, what is sometimes refereed to as fundamentHz Alism. These countries have an abundance of cash by which to provide funding to groups that have likeminded objectives and in many cases to start said groups. In most cases these groups are opposed to Turkish Cypriot secularism and religious tolerance. There desire is to return to the Sharia which is the rule of religious law. In so doing they opposed the reforms established by Atatürk and want to make both Turkey and Turkish Cypriots more religious. Basically what they desire to do is to return to the time before Atatürk.

Thus far there plans have not come to fruition and Northern Cyprus remains secular. But efforts are still underway to change this, and with a virtually unlimited quantity of cash to spend these foreign groups may one day reach someone. Yet as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus remains today that seems unlikely.

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