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Nov 1, 2008

It missed the seventh anniversary of 9/11 by a hair’s breadth, but many will remember 9/15 of 2008 as being as traumatic as the former, if not as tragic, when Lehman Brothers, a gigantic investment bank in the US, filed for bankruptcy. Shockwaves in the aftermath soon hit shores across the ocean with stocks plummeting, and now everyone is expecting financial storms to take effect worldwide. We will all be economically hurt by this global credit crunch, but in order to take lessons from this misfortune, a careful analysis of the causes that paved the way to this result has to be very well considered. The presidential candidate of the Democrats in the US, Barack Obama, comments on this crisis in an email posted on his campaign web site ( “The era of greed and irresponsibility on Wall Street and in Washington has created a financial crisis as profound as any we have faced since the Great Depression.” Likewise, Nicole Pope of Today’s Zaman wrote “Short-termism and greed are clearly not a sustainable combination,” warning of the challenges economies worldwide will face in the coming years.

Greed is a very powerful feeling in human beings; if not restrained, it is very harmful. Expressing his deep longing for times when most of the crimes we know today “only existed in the dictionary,” Gulen is in a sense pointing to this sickness of greed of today when he praises “the auspicious people of those days” who “were exceptionally contented with what they possessed, stayed away from what was forbidden, and fixed on what was lawful, and they pursued a life in justice.” Greed for more property, greed for more wealth, territory, welfare, comfort, and pleasure can only be subdued by contentment.

The Aral Sea is another victim of greed. The communist regime, which wanted to transform the whole of Uzbekistan into a huge field of cotton, diverted the rivers that fed this, once the fourth biggest inland sea in the world, into deserts. The regime was successful in that Uzbekistan really became the largest cotton producer of the world; but the cost was high. Timur Ceylan analyzes a very serious ecological problem in Asia as the Aral Sea is dying before the world’s eyes.

Three articles in this edition are dedicated to topics concerning women in the context of Islam. Fulya Celik deals with the enormous change in the lives of women that took place following the advent of Islam. Stressing an analysis of the social conditions before and after Islam, she mainly discusses how Qur’anic principles restored the universal human rights women were denied before and even today. Eren Tatari deals with her experience of the dress code of Islam for women. Drawing attention to Christian nuns and icons of Virgin Mary as well as the Jewish dress code for women, she underlines the fact that covering one’s body is in the nature of being human and Islam was not the first to enjoin it. And finally, Asli Sancar narrates her journey into discovering a role model for women, a journey which started in the US, continued in Turkey for decades, and was crowned back in the US with her award-winning book: Ottoman Women: Myth and Reality.