Research Article

DOI :10.26650/di.2023.34.2.1268937   IUP :10.26650/di.2023.34.2.1268937    Full Text (PDF)

Religious Reflectivity Against The Risks of Modernity: The “Real Medicine” Movement As A Reactive Alternative Medicine Movement To The Risk Society

Fatih KatınçAbdurrahman Kurt

This study examines the social reactions toward risks that emerged during the period referred to as late, advanced, or high modernity by Ulrich Beck and Anthony Giddens. These reactions transformed into new social movements with a certain organizational structure. Notably, certain movements have incorporated religious references as part of their approach. Among these movements are alternative medicine and the new age, which gained prominence in the latter part of the 20th century. In contrast to traditional movements, these contemporary movements embrace an alternative way of life, reacting against the potential risks posed by the modern way of life. This study focuses on the Aidin Salih School, an alternative medicine movement that has progressively expanded its area of influence. The most important reference sources of the members of this movement known as “Real Medicine” are Prophet’s Medicine. This concept serves as the “Angel of History” as an alternative to the modern way of life for the followers of Real Medicine. In this context, the aspiration is to reinvent the era of “Asr-ı Saadet, “ a period believed to have fully embraced the Prophet’s Medicine, as a form of retrotopia (an idealized past). The study aims to examine the motivating factors behind the “Real Medicine” movement as a representative of the alternative medicine movement and to scrutinize the social dynamics that shaped their adopted way of life.

DOI :10.26650/di.2023.34.2.1268937   IUP :10.26650/di.2023.34.2.1268937    Full Text (PDF)

Modernliğin Risklerine Karşı Dinsel Düşünümsellik: Risk Toplumuna Tepkisel Bir Alternatif Tıp Hareketi Olarak “Gerçek Tıp” Hareketi

Fatih KatınçAbdurrahman Kurt

Araştırmada, Ulrich Beck ve Anthony Giddens’ın geç, ileri veya yüksek modernite olarak tanımladıkları dönemde ortaya çıkan risklere karşı oluşan toplumsal tepkiler ele alınmaktadır. Türkiye’de modernitenin sebep olduğu risklere karşı oluşan tepkiler, belli bir örgütsel yapıya sahip yeni toplumsal hareketlere dönüşmüştür. Bu hareketlerden bazılarının dini referanslarla hareket ettikleri görülmektedir. 20. yüzyılın son çeyreğinde görünür olmaya başlayan alternatif tıp ve yeniçağ bu hareketlerdendir. Bu hareketler, eski toplumsal hareketlerden farklı olarak, modern yaşam tarzının ortaya çıkardığı risklere karşı tepkisel hareket ederek alternatif bir yaşam tarzını benimsemektedirler. Araştırmada bir alternatif tıp hareketi olarak ortaya çıkan ve etki alanını her geçen gün arttıran Aidin Salih ekolü ele alınmaktadır. “Gerçek Tıp” olarak bilinen hareketin mensuplarının en önemli referans kaynakları Tıbb-ı Nebevi’dir. Bu kavram, Gerçek Tıp takipçileri için modern yaşam tarzına karşı alternatif bir yaşam olarak “Tarih Meleği” görevini görmektedir. Bu açıdan Tıbb-ı Nebevi’nin tam olarak yaşandığına inanılan “Asr-ı Saadet” dönemi, retroptopya olarak yeniden icat edilmek istenmektedir. Araştırmanın amacı, bir alternatif tıp hareketi olarak “Gerçek Tıp” hareketinin motivasyon kaynaklarını incelemek ve benimsedikleri yaşam tarzının altında yatan toplumsal dinamikleri irdelemektir.


This study examines the reactions of society to emerging risks during the era categorized as late, advanced, or high modernity, according to Ulrich Beck and Anthony Giddens. These reactions against the risks caused by modernity in Turkey have turned into new social movements characterized by certain organizational structures. It is seen that some of these movements emphasize religious discourse and their supporters adopt a mystical lifestyle. Among these movements are alternative medicine and the new age phenomenon, both of which gained traction in the latter part of the 20th century. Diverging from conventional social movements, these contemporary movements adopt alternative ways of life as a reaction to the potential risks associated with a modern way of life. This study focuses on the Aidin Salih School, an alternative medicine movement that has steadily expanded its influence. The study aims to examine the motivational sources of individuals aligned with this school and to closely analyze the social dynamics underlying their adopted way of life.

The introduction section of this study provides a concise overview of how sociology approaches social movements. The study is built on the theoretical frameworks of Ulrich Beck’s “Risk Society” and Anthony Giddens’s notion of the “Juggernaut” (crushing machine) of modernity. In addition, the concepts of “Return of the Actor,” which Alain Touraine used to describe the new social movements that emerged after World War II, Zygmunt Bauman’s “History Angel” and Eric J. Hobsbawm’s “Invention of Tradition,” were employed.

This study follows an interpretive and commentator paradigm and employs qualitative research methods. The study employs a purposeful sampling method, applying in-depth interviews for individual interactions and participatory observation for group activities.

Thus, this chapter discusses the emergence of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine (TCAM) treatments, which outlines the definitions and general contents of these concepts, as well as their historical context. The study later addresses the societal factors contributing to the current popularity of these treatment modalities.

Traditional treatments, which faced diminishing legitimacy due to the rise of biomedicine, regained recognition in the late 20th century amid critiques of modern medical practices. TCAM has been integrated into national health policies in numerous countries, influenced by the World Health Organization’s studies on TCAM. Regulation changes in Turkey have facilitated the application of methods such as cupping and leeching, which are applied in the Islamic tradition, alongside methods from the Far East. These methods are now accepted under certain conditions outlined by the Ministry of Health.

This chapter focuses on the evolution of modern medicine and the emergence of alternative medicine movements in Turkey. First, the reflections of the reforms conducted in the political and social fields after the establishment of the Republic in the field of health are discussed. Traditional medicine, which was once associated with medical practices of the Imperial period, was also intertwined with religious and political authority, encompassing both religious practices and the way of life of those in power. Conversely, modern medicine was considered a means to express individualism and citizenship in the modern era.

Despite the reforms conducted by the state and the modernization of healthcare, traditional treatments persist at the societal level. However, a paradigm shift occurred in the late 20th century, alongside criticisms of modern medicine. This shift led to a notable rise in traditional and/or alternative and complementary therapies both in Turkey and globally. These treatment approaches, often appearing as civil society movements, have become increasingly visible in the public sphere. 

The Effective alternative medicine movements in Turkey can generally be classified into two categories. The first category comprises movements that draw inspiration and guidance from the Islamic tradition, the Qur’an, and the Sunnah. The second category encompasses eclectic movements heavily influenced by Eastern traditions, particularly India and China, under the influence of globalization.

The primary focus of this study, and the key figure within the first category, is that of Aidin Salih. Salih has played a significant role in establishing an alternative medicine movement in Turkey through her book “Real Medicine” and her work in training students.

While multiple factors contribute to the emergence of such movements, one of the most significant aspects, from the researcher’s perspective, is the dynamics of modernity. A noteworthy point of criticism within these movements is the dissatisfaction stemming from the modern way of life. This discontent arises due to the risks posed by modernity.

Ulrich Beck’s theory of Risk Society sheds light on the hidden dimensions of modernity, aiming to reveal the risks and threats it generates. His work explains the changes and transformations caused by modernity. According to Beck, the novel risks arising from industrial society possess the potential to persist across generations and destroy natural ways of life.

Much like Ulrich Beck, Anthony Giddens shares concerns regarding the extent and prevalence of the risks posed by modernity. Giddens refers to this phase as “late modernity” or “advanced modernity.” He characterizes modernity as a “Juggernaut,” a metaphor for a dominating force (crushing machine). Industrialization according to Giddens, not only transforms nature but also leads to the creation of a “socialized nature” or “artificial environment.” In this transformed landscape, industrialism has exposed the risk of ecological decay and irreversible disasters. The resulting unrest within society has provided fertile ground for the emergence of some new social movements, often centered on the environment. These movements possess a reactive stance against modernity, with a notable feature being their defense of traditional production methods in opposition to industrial practices.

Numerous alternative medicine movements, including the Aidin Salih movement, criticize modern life practices and strive to integrate the natural into everyday life. Dr. Aidin Salih, a Ukrainian convert, and her students are the inspiration behind the Aidin Salih movement. Salih’s publication, “Real Medicine,” allowed conveying her thoughts and practices to a wide audience. Followers of Real Medicine perceive modern risks and threats not as failures of scientific and technological progress, but rather as deliberate outcomes. They believe that the main purpose is to overthrow the order established by the Creator and to build the order of the devil who rebelled against the Creator. According to them, the new order to be established as a diabolical plan was designed in the research laboratories, in the cosmic rooms of the world’s insidious rich and those who rule the world. Modern science, and especially biomedicine, serves this plan.

The followers of the Real Medicine movement, which emerged as a protest movement against the risks posed by modernity during the late modern era, perceive it as a religious duty to resist and address these modern risks. Their perspectives and assertions draw from religious texts, traditional teachings, and diverse scientific data.

Real Medicine practitioners believe that their efforts generate awareness regarding modern risks among individuals, thereby stimulating critical thinking. They hold that this process contributes to thinking about the reason and wisdom for existence. By elucidating how individuals can safeguard and enhance their physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing through concepts of health and religious arguments, they believe that they are fulfilling a sublime mission because they lead people to “religious reflexivity.” 

Followers of Real Medicine movements adopt a critical stance toward the modern way of life, considering it to be the source of various problems. They turn to the “Asr-ı Saadet” (Century of Felicity) era as a reference point for a more natural way of life. They firmly believe that overcoming challenges is feasible only through a way of life aligned with “Sunnah and Sunnatullah” (the Prophet’s teaching and divine principle) can problems be overcome.

Within the Real Medicine movement, the Century of Felicity is being reconstructed using retrotopia as an ideal sheltered haven to shield against the destruction brought by modernity. Taking part in the “buried treasures of tradition” against modern medicine, which acts according to the goals of progress, “Tibb-i Nebevi” (Prophet’s Medicine) assumes the mantle of the “Angel of History.” It carries the paradisiacal essence of the past into the present, constructing a foundation for our future. Consequently, in reaction to the risks posed by modernity, the movement seeks to rejuvenate the “natural” way of life, believed to be latent within the treasures of Islamic tradition.

Salih’s students assert that they provide a safe environment by introducing a new way of life to individuals who grapple with ontological trust issues with the associations, organizations, and workshops they have established. This newly discovered ideal way of life, guided by introspection and religious reflexivity, is rooted in the Century of Felicity era. This reinvented way of life offers the possibility of a safe life against the risks of modernity.

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Katınç, F., & Kurt, A. (2019). Religious Reflectivity Against The Risks of Modernity: The “Real Medicine” Movement As A Reactive Alternative Medicine Movement To The Risk Society. darulfunun ilahiyat, 0(0), -.


Katınç F, Kurt A. Religious Reflectivity Against The Risks of Modernity: The “Real Medicine” Movement As A Reactive Alternative Medicine Movement To The Risk Society. darulfunun ilahiyat. 2019;0(0):-.


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Katınç, Fatih, and Abdurrahman Kurt. Religious Reflectivity Against The Risks of Modernity: The “Real Medicine” Movement As A Reactive Alternative Medicine Movement To The Risk Society.” darulfunun ilahiyat, vol. 0, no. 0, 2019, pp. -. [Database Container],


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Published Online20.11.2023


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