Talismans in modern Turkey

Talismans in modern Turkey

Turkish culture is known for being diverse, traditional and accepting of anything new. In fact, Islam is one of the most prominent components in Turkish society. Turks have always been close to old traditions as well as to new innovations/technologies with updates which are often adopted all over the world by increasing Westernization of technology throughout history. In this section, we explore the talisman concept and use in Turkey through the different eras. Elsewhere in the world, people were using taweez and talismans to balance their lives before modern life invaded. In Turkey, they became prominent mostly in dealing with stress related issues such as infertility and marriage after recent peace treaty. The use of Islamic artifacts is mostly associated with the Sufi Muslims. Talismans play a big role in Turkish society. They are most often made of copper and used to protect people from the evil eye by “moving it away with God’s help.” In Turkish culture, there’s a tradition where the family of a new born baby will place coins underneath the baby’s cradle to help provide wealth and prosperity for them. When people make wishes, they often tie coins onto branches so that the tree can take their prayers to heaven.

In Ottoman times, the Mevlevi talismans were used by both Sunni and Shia Islamic communities. In Ottoman palace, members of the uppermost ranks had talismans. At home, people keep their needs such as shelter, food, safety in the forms of sacred objects that are believed to protect them from harm or ward off evil. Mevlevi talismans are kept at home as well. The Sufi Mevlevi Islamic order is believed to have about 200 000 members worldwide, with about 40,000 in Turkey and 40,000 in Iran. It has become a global phenomenon with numerous followers from countries such as the United States of America and Canada to France, Italy and other European countries as well as many Arab states such as Morocco, Egypt, Kuwait and Syria.

There is no direct answer what the motivation for people to use talismans is. It is unclear if they believe that will benefit from their use, or if every day people think about health and safety when it comes to their use. Turkish writer Mahmut Uyan?k has used this text as one of his stories called “The Prophet’s Mortgages” where he talks about the ideas behind meaning some aspects of life and death in regards to carrying talismans.            

Despite some Turkish people believing that there are shaykhs and taweez dealers used as a response to Turkey’s painful current conditions, others think these talismans just cause more problems. “We are not against the taweez. We just want to protect our children and ourselves,” said one shop owner. In order to stop the spread of these amulets and shaykhs that are becoming more popular among Turks, Istanbul’s Directorate of Religious Affairs decided in June not to allow advertisements for these items. In Turkey many people wear talismans and they can be seen on quite a few Turkish people’s working place or home.

Ayshe Kafil, the owner of Journeys 2018, polled 10 different Turkish-Americans to see what their explanation for why an individual would wear one is. Here are some of her findings:

“Some say if you have a collision with a car or get into an accident, it will protect you from injuries. Some say if you’re wearing it then by doing so God can trust your pledge to protection and protection from evil works. The wearer believes that religious charms provide them with good luck in their personal lives. Some say that even if they don’t believe in the charm, they will still be protected because God recognizes the person wearing the charm and protects them.”

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