Necip Fazıl Kısakürek was a Turkish poet. In the 1920s, as the Ottoman Empire disintegrated and the modern Turkish republic took its place, he read philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris and became a disciple of the philosopher Henri Bergson. But at the end of his studies, Kısakürek felt purposeless. When he returned home he distanced himself from the Westernizing followers of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, annoyed by their view of Islam as a regressive religion that needed to be eradicated from the public sphere. He started a conservative literary magazine called Ağaç (The Tree) and spent his days drinking, smoking, and gambling in the bohemian quarters of Istanbul. His writer friends considered him an oddity and a lost cause.

After falling under the influence of a sheikh from a banned Sufi order, Kısakürek refashioned himself as an Islamist...

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