||personal requests for intervention such as many Christians address to
God are not thought of. The attention of Allah is to be won by carrying
out the ritual He has appointed, or by reciting the words He has
revealed, not by inducing His compassionate concern for ones plight.
||The will of Allah is absolute and must not be questioned, and
||whatever happens, happens by His express command. It is therefore
impious to say of the past that some alternative course of conduct would
have produced a different result, because what has happened is ex
hypothesi the will of Allah, and
to suggest that something else might have happened is to question His
omnipotence. This is not consistently maintained in minor matters; it is
impossible to discuss the pros and cons of any activity without using this
sort of argument, and it is in fact used. But when it comes to death,
which is especially thought of as a direct divine act, one finds a
complete fatalism. So long as a sick person is still alive, they will seek a
doctor, apply medicines, recite over him, nurse him as best they can.
But as soon as the person is dead, no one says If only we done so and
so, perhaps he would not have died. When on occasion I said words to
this effect, I was severely reproved, both for impiety and for talking
||Equally, it is impious to question the presence of the hand of the
||Creator in anything. One day, Ali Osman asked where rain comes
from. I said clouds, and on that answer proving unacceptable, tired on
or two others before giving him Allah. This was the reply he wanted.
Allah sends the rain, he said, and he only sends the clouds as a sign.
On another occasion, in the course of conversation about soil, I
mentioned volcanoes, and was drawn into endeavouring explain that
Mount Erciyas was once a volcano, and the rock in the area is volcanic.
My remarks were not fully understood, for my vocabulary was not
adequate, but Ali Osman said at once with great emphasis, Allah made
the earth as it is now. Similar arguments are used against any effort
radically to alter the physical environment. The conversation turned to
the absence of trees in the area. The Government has been urging the
planting of trees by villagers, and provides young seedlings free for this
purpose. I asked them why they do nothing about planting trees. Allah
gives the forest, they replied.
||This belief in the close but incalculable control exercised by Allah
||over the material environment and the course of events provides an
answer to all misfortunes and unexpected events. The concept of
natural law cannot exist within this framework, because one could never
||be sure that the explanation of a certain event was not arbitrary
interference by Allah. The belief in the occurrence of such interference
provides for the village a more satisfactory explanation of the world as
they know it than western science could. Some events are attributed to
divine punishment for sin, some to the interference, not of Allah, but of
angels, jin or devils, but any individual or group to whom such an
explanation seems improbable or unpalatable can simply say it is the
will of Allah, which is inscrutable, and such an explanation is adequate.
||Islam provides a metaphysic, on which the whole moral and social
||order rests. Allah made the world in which they live, ordained the
circumstances in which they find themselves, mercifully allowed them
to be true believers; He directly arranges the details of their lives, give
them their fields, chooses their wives, gives them children, sends the
rain on which their livelihood depends. He laid down the ritual and
moral rules by which they guide their conduct, and is thus the author of
their social organisation. Any inconsistencies in the scheme which may
trouble people from time to time, are readily accounted for by the high
inscrutability of Allah.
||While studying Roman history, I found it helpful to think of the
||religion of a group of people, whatever else it might also be, as a system
of beliefs, mainly of a non-verifiable kind, which gives or appears to
give logical foundation and emotional support to those behaviours and
those rules of conduct which the groups holds to most firmly, and
considers most important. Such a statement would commit the
intelletectualist error, perhaps, if applied to the religions of many
primitive peoples, but within the village which I studied, which has the
explicit theology of a great world religion, it seems to fit admirably.
Almost any action or institution, and certainly any action felt to be
important, can be referred to religious justification, and at the same
time the whole universe of the village belongs to the same single
||1. Social Change
Turkey seems to offer almost ideal conditions for social change. It does not
require much reflection to realise that a chain of legislative reforms such as
the Turkish Republic has initiated in its comparatively short life, backed as
||they are by a reasonable efficient administration, and by a good deal of
popular support, at least in the towns, are bound to have profound effects on
the life of people, other than those intended by the reformers. The question
how are these reforms working out at once leaps to mind, and direct
observation in detail seems the only way of getting an answer. The problem
in Turkey is not as in other parts of the world complicated by issues of
national or race conflict. The changes have been initiated by Turks, with a
measure of popular support. The reformers may be regarded by their critics
as irreligious, as mistaken, as incompetent, but they are not regarded with
nationalist hatred, nor suspected of diabolical malevolence.
But when one arrives in a village to do field work, it is not clear how one is to
study social change. In the first place, I have only been able to observe one
village at one point in time. It may in some matters be possible to observe
movement but without direct observation wither of the starting point or of the
goal of such movement, one is reduced at the very best to guess work. Some
reliance can be put on the statement od informants, but such statements cannot
supply the necessary detail for a comparison of two or more synchronic cross
sections of the village separated by an interval long enough to show clearly the
direction of change, nor is there readily available, so far as I know, any
supply of detailed information about Turkish villages, say, a generation ago.
Careful historical research may disclose such information, though I doubt
whether it would be of a kind directly comparable with the information
presented in this thesis. for these reasons, I have found it impossible to
analyse out of my observations any overall direction of change, or to discern
the emergence of any new patterns.
The words social change are so wide that they might reasonable be applied
to almost anything that happens in a society, that is, to any human actions, or
events. But in this context it is obvious that we are not discussing events and
actions that repeat the pattern already existing in a society. In the sense of
social change here intended, births, deaths and marriages, quarrels between
kabileler, changes of village officers and so on, do not constitute social
change. But the presence of a doctor at a birth, a departure from the
traditional marriage customs, the appointing of a young man to the office of
muhtar, when previously all muhtars had been village elders, these would be
examples of social change. An examination of this distinction reveals a no
mans land between social change proper and actions and events which are
clearly repetitions of the patter, but this vagueness of boundary does not
invalidate the distinction.
||The concentration of government efforts on producing changes, might perhaps
lead us to overlook other sources of social change. Theoretically, three types
of change may be distinguished; changes due mainly to internal development,
or to changes in the physical environment of society; secondly changes
occurring spontaneously due to changes in the wider social environment of the
society, and thirdly, changes deliberately and consciously imposed by the
political authorities. In practice, actual examples often belong to more than
one of these types at once, and, I have arranged what I have to say about social
change in Sakaltutan not according to this distinction but by subjects. I merely
wished, in including this point to avoid the impression which I might
otherwise have given, that I think of social change mainly in terms of the
success of failure of government reforms.
To recapitulate all the details of village life in order to consider whether in
each institution, change can be detected, would be wearisome, and I therefore
select only some of the most obvious points, and deal with them summarily.
2. Economic changes
Changes in economic organisation, and especially rises in wealth are at once
the most obvious, and the most urgently desired by the reformers and
One of the most important changes in the economics of the village, however,
is neither the work of government planning, now an improvement from any
point of view. The expansion of the village population, which is itself perhaps
the result of internal and external peace, and greatly improved health
measures, is rapidly reducing the average size of landholding. There is no
need to reiterate this point, which has been made in Chapter XI. In addition,
both from my own amateur observation, and from the remarks of the village
elders, neither of which constitute reliable evidence, I would say that soil
erosion is at work. The absence of trees, the frequent patches of bare rock,
the devastating results of the very heavy thunder showers, and the summer
dust storms, all tend to make me feel that barrenness is increasing. But soil
erosion apart, the average income per household in produce from land is
On the other hand, during the last fifteen years, Sakaltutan has probably
||increased in prosperity. In the first place, new crops have been introduced.
Vines, fruit trees, potatoes, onions, tomatoes and various green vegetables
were, so the villagers say, none of them planted ten or fifteen years ago.
Many households, following the new fashion, are still making or expanding
their gardens for these crops. This means a much more varied diet, and also
in some cases cash from the sale of these new commodities.
At the same time, the government assistance in controlling grain prices, in
making credit available through the Agricultural Bank and in providing seed,
in some cases improved and cleaned seed, have helped the villagers, and
improved transport has, I gather, greatly increased the amount of grain sold
by the village.
This is no place to discuss the question of agricultural reform. The technical
difficulties are considerable, but
||considered from the point of view it income per household from the land, it is
obvious that any increase in productivity by means of crop rotation, the use of
fertilizers, or of simple machinery, of which developments there is at present
no sign in this area, will have to race the increase of population, unless a
substantial number of people can be persuaded to leave the village, wither to
go to land elsewhere, under a government scheme which is already beginning
to operate, or to go town as industrial labour.
The other major change in village economics is the great and continuing
increase in the number of migrant ustalar, who can, as I have said in Chapter
XII.3, earn reasonable wages. It is this source which has contributed mainly
to the rise in general living standards which has as far as I can judge, taken
place in the last few years.
One of the main signs of this rise is the amount of new building. Everyone
says that a generation ago many of the villagers lived in caves, or semi-caves.
This is quite readily confirmed by a comparison of the older houses, and the
stables in which a tandir reveals original human occupation, with the new
houses which have been built in the last ten years. The number if these new
houses is remarkably high, and there was plenty of building in progress.
This evidence is not however conclusive. The improved housing may reflect a
cultural change, due to the closer town contact. It is said sometimes that the
village is wealthier, and life is better, but at others the old men recall with
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