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Industry and Islam (2:22) Excerpt from film "Turkey's Tigers", August 2006
This clip illustrates economic and religious development in Kayseri, a city in Turkey.

Country: Turkey

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Guiding Questions
  1. This clip mentions one of the five pillars of Islam - zakaat, or contributions to charitable causes. From your prior knowledge, how many other pillars of Islam can you name?

  2. Based on what you saw in the clip, evaluate how religious and economic growth have gone hand in hand in Kayseri.

  3. As this clip mentions, Kayseri's industrialists were nominated for the Guinness Book of World Records for the rapid expansion of businesses in the area. What parallels can you think of in other times and places across the globe when industrialization has occurred at a similarly rapid pace?
Background Essay
In Turkey, a politically secular state with a 99.8% Muslim population (2007 figures), religious and secular institutions often go hand in hand. In the city of Kayseri, the rapid growth of factories in a new industrial zone ushered in growth in many other businesses and institutions, largest among them a 6,000-person mosque. In keeping with the teachings of the Koran, many of Kayseri's industrialists provide buses for their workers to attend Friday prayers.

Turkey is located in a part of the world that was once called the Near East. For centuries it was a link between Europe and Asia. Its main city, Istanbul (previously called Constantinople), was a trading, religious, and social hub. Both Christianity and Islam have had major influences on the development of Turkey's culture.

In the early 1900s Turkey experienced a period of rapid economic and social change. In 1923, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a popular leader in Turkey's military, declared the establishment of the Turkish Republic. He launched an aggressive program to modernize and secularize the country, which brought about many changes. Turkey has modernized its economy and is poised to become a member of the European Union. Simultaneously, religious and political leaders are working to preserve traditional Islamic aspects of Turkey's culture while embracing some of the West's attitudes and practices. Turkey's future stability and growth will be determined by how well it can incorporate the rich heritage of its past into its goals for future.

One of the industries that is confronted with this change is the garment industry. Some women in Turkey choose to wear traditional Islamic garb, while many others choose to wear non-traditional Western attire. What does this mean for business leaders in Turkey? What does it mean for female consumers? In the Turkey that is evolving, will there be room for both the past and the future?

In keeping with the teachings of the Koran, many of Kayseri's industrialists provide buses for their workers to attend Friday prayers.

Celal Hasnalçaci
The peoples who want to pray, this is time for pray. It's a bit crowded, many cars and people are coming at the same time.

Though Sunday is the official day of rest in Turkey, workers in Kayseri use their lunch time for prayers on Fridays. There are so many faithful they can't all fit in a mosque that holds 6,000.

The Industrial Zone's new mosque was built by Kayseri's businessmen, who in keeping with Islamic teaching give two-and-a-half percent of their wealth to charity each year.

Like daily prayer and pilgrimage, this charity, or zekat, is one of the pillars of Islam.

This mosque is one of the largest in Kayseri.

Ahmet Hasyüncü
Before the mosque there were no businesses here. The businesses and mosque were built at the same time.

Ahmet Hasyüncü is the president of the rapidly expanding Kayseri Industrial Zone.

Ahmet Hasyüncü
The place you'll see next is the new part of the industrial park, which we built in two years. Two years ago, there wasn't anything here. You couldn't find one single factory. We broke ground on 139 businesses in one day, and were nominated for the Guinness Book of World Records.

Ahmet Hasyüncü
This is Kayseri. Turkey is the center of the world, and Kayseri is the center of Turkey. So, Kayseri is the center of the world.

Related Links
Turkey's Tigers on PBS.org

CIA World Factbook: Turkey

Turkish Cultural Foundation

BBC World Service: Religions of the World: Islam

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