Araz, Nezihe (1922—)

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Araz, Nezihe (1922—)

Turkish author of religious poetry and children's books. Born in Konya, Turkey, in 1922; educated at Ankara's Girls Lycée; graduated from the University of Ankara, 1946, with a degree in philosophy and psychology.

A religious and cultural conservative, Araz was deeply influenced in her work by the teachings of the 13th-century Turkish mystic Jalal al-Din Rumi, the best-known Islamic mystical poet. Despite attempts to create a Western-based secular culture that began in the first decades of the 20th century, Araz represents Islamic traditionalism in Turkish intellectual life.

In 1922, Nezihe Araz was born in the city of Konya, Turkey, the center of a mystical tradition founded 700 years earlier by the Sufi mystic Jalal al-Din Rumi. She was educated at Ankara's Girls Lycée and then enrolled at the University of Ankara, graduating in 1946 with a degree in philosophy and psychology. In the 1950s, Araz published several books of poetry inspired by Islamic history, including the spiritual growth of the Prophet Muhammad and the saints of Anatolia. She also took on journalistic assignments for several of Turkey's conservative pro-Islamic newspapers, including Yeni Sabah and Yeni Istanbul. As an editor, Araz was in charge of major projects including the Turkish-language edition of the Larousse Encyclopedia and a multi-volume history of the first 50 years of the Turkish Republic from 1923–1973.

Strongly influenced by Sufic teachings, Araz advocated a fundamentalist Muslim piety that emphasizes love and morality. The Turkish Sufi order of the Mevlevi, which Araz has written about in highly sympathetic terms, played a major role in defining Ottoman culture in the final centuries of that powerful empire. Her writings reflect a growing dissatisfaction with what are widely perceived to be the negative aspects of Westernization. She defended Turkish historical, and Islamic theological, traditions, arguing that these can be valid in a complex and often destructive modern world slavishly following a Western spiritual and social model inappropriate for Turkey. Araz's writings have influenced the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism in Turkey in the last decades of the 20th century.


Araz, Nezihe. Anadolu evliyalari. Istanbul: Fatis Yayinevi, 1958.

——. Dertli dolap: Yunus Emre'nin hayat hikâyesi. Istanbul: Fatis Yayinevi, 1961.

——. Fatihin deruni tarihi. Istanbul: Inkilâp kitabevi, 1953.

Elias, Jamal J. "Mawlawiyah," in Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World. Vol. 3. Edited by John L. Esposito. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995, pp. 77–79.

Mitler, Louis. Contemporary Turkish Writers: A Critical Bio-Bibliography of Leading Writers in the Turkish Republican Period up to 1980. Bloomington: Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies, Indiana University, 1988.

Schimmel, Annemarie. The Triumphant Sun: A Study of the Works of Jalaloddin Rumi. Rev. ed. London: East-West Publications, 1980.

John Haag , Associate Professor of History, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia