This book is the outcome of several years of research, fieldwork, and writing, and would not have been possible without the support and contribution of a number of interlocutors, colleagues, friends, and family. I would first like to express my deepest gratitude to Armando Salvatore. With intellectual rigor and philosophical erudition, but also by example, Armando has been a fundamental reference point for me, as a scholar and a person, during these years. Those who are familiar with his work will recognize the influence of his thinking across most of this book, and there are no adequate words to express my gratitude. I also owe special thanks to Michelangelo Guida and Setrag Manoukian, both of whom have played a crucial role in my intellectual initiation. Michelangelo has extended to me most of what I know about Turkey’s society and politics and has encouraged me to explore the religious-conservative camp with scrutiny and dedication. As a colleague and a friend, he has always expressed the greatest generosity to me, and I am indebted to him for this. To Setrag, I am particularly grateful for having introduced me to seminal debates in the anthropology of Islam and the Middle East several years ago during my graduate studies at the University of Milano-Bicocca, and for his encouragement and advice during these years.
Besides, I have particularly benefitted from conversations with Paola Abenante regarding the anthropology of Islam, Sufism, and the place of “modernity” in the exploration of this complex field; Kim Shively and Martin van Bruinessen on the trajectory of Islamic movements in Turkey, and the sociopolitical transformations of the last decade and a half; and Nada Moumtaz about the question of continuity and change in Islamic tradition. I am also grateful to all my other colleagues whose engagement with my work have contributed to giving this book its final shape: Fida Adely, Hatsuki Aishima, Schirin Amir-Moazami, Ercüment Asıl, Philipp Bruckmayr, Estella Carpi, James Seale-Collazo, Feray Coşkun, Kristina Dohrn, Dietrich Jung, Jakob Krais, Önder Küçükural, Gennaro Gervasio, Oğuzhan Göksel, William Holt, Kasper Mathiesen, Shireen Mirza, Paulo Pinto, Francesco Piraino, Emin Poljarevic, Dietrich Reetz, Samuli Schielke, Mark Sedgwick, Kirstine Sinclair, Abdulkader Tayob, Mara Tedesco, Caroline Tee, and Berna Zengin Arslan.
The research project that lies at the heart of this book was initially conceived at the Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane in Siena (now Istituto di Scienze Umane e Sociali, Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence and Pisa). I owe special thanks to people from the Centro AMA, particularly to Maurizio Bettini and Simone Beta for their support and help. A particular thank you also goes to
I would also like to thank the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies (BGSMCS) and Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) for having provided me with a fellowship at the beginning of the writing of this work. I am also grateful to the organizers and participants of the 2012 UCSIA Summer School, Antwerp. In particular, I would like to thank Robert Hefner, Grace Yukich, Nancy A. Khalil, and Pooyan Tamimi Arab, for suggestions and criticism. This project was completed at Istanbul 29 Mayis University, where apart from people already mentioned above, I would like to thank Emrah Safa Gürkan and Özgür Ünal Eriş for their sympathetic support and friendship.
I am particularly indebted to the series editor at Brill, Dale F. Eickelman, for his encouragement and support at different stages of the process, as well as to my in-house editor Nienke Brienen-Moolenaar for her assistance with the completion of this book. I am also grateful for the valuable suggestions and comments made by the anonymous reviewers for Brill. I would also like to express my gratitude to James Disley for assisting me with editing a preliminary version of the manuscript.
Needless to say, this book would have not been possible without the help, patience, and humanity of the people I worked with in Istanbul, whose names I have not mentioned in order to protect their privacy. A thank you goes to the elder brothers and students of the communities that I researched who trusted me and dedicated their time to me.
Finally, this work would have never been possible without the support of my family, in particular my mother and father. Last but not least, my deepest gratitude and affection goes to Entela, the person who has probably taught me most about humanity. Without her encouragement and her unshakable belief in me and my work, this book would never have become a reality. Thank you for having chosen to take this long journey with me.