Harun Yahya or Adnan Oktar: The Promised Mahdi?
The following article is mostly a personal criticism of a public figure. However, I am not committing the logical fallacy known as ad hominem, since the attack is relevant to the argument and is justified. After reading the article, you will decide it for yourself.
Adan Oktar, who later started using the nickname Harun Yahya, was my apprentice in mid 1980’s. In our first meeting, I was a famous Sunni author and political activist, and he was an unknown Sunni zealot influenced by the books of the Kurdish Mullah, Said Nursi. At that time, my books were making editions after editions and I had hundreds of thousands readers, yet I had no special group of mine. He was not famous then, but he had a few dozen followers among university students. He was in his late twenties, a college drop-out, unemployed, and was living with his mother in an apartment located in a middle class neighborhood at Ortakoy, Istanbul. He had a long black beard, soft voice, smiling face, childish jokes, and most importantly a well calculated plan for his assumed mission.
Adnan was mixing mysticism with scientific rhetoric and presenting it gently and in a modern fashion to the children of the privileged class, without intimidating them. He was a refined and urbanized version of Said Nursi. Ironically, unlike beardless Said, he was fond of his well-groomed stylish beard. (Religious clerics, on the other hand, managed to grow ugly-looking beards by cutting their mustache short and shaving their hair, resembling Franciscan monks). This proved to be a magic solution. He would always keep a certain distance between himself and his followers and would treat them as if they were his children, though he was only seven or ten years older than them. He would pat the heads of his young pupils and encourage them to work for the mission and they would accept this charming and patronizing treatment with delight. He was targeting the university students and especially the handsome children of the rich and affluent. They would pull each other to the circle.
Meanwhile, when I was doing my mandatory military service in Samsun in 1986, I started communicating with Rashad Khalifa. After several rounds of hot snail-mail discussions and upon reading his landmark book, Quran, Hadith, and Islam, I decided to dedicate my religion to God alone. I shared my newly discovered faith with my close friends, including Adnan Oktar. He was very receptive. He would frequently ask me questions and convey the information to his followers. He was trying his best to keep our meetings secret from his followers. Then I did not know the reason, and I did not care much. I thought he was considering my style too bold and my culture too rural. He was right: when discussing political or religious issues, I did not care much about people’s cloths, wealth, or their personal feelings. But in retrospect I know the real reason behind this secrecy: he was thinking that my presence would jeopardize his charisma and dilute his influence over them. He wanted his followers to think that he was receiving a special information or inspiration from God. He did not know Arabic but he was clever enough to dupe the unquestioning gullible followers and give them the impression that he knew a lot. He was considering me as a potential rival in his mission.
To my dismay, later I discovered that his interest in the message was not prompted by his philosophical quest for truth but by his pragmatic strategy for his political ambitions. He thought that he could use it easily to attract the children of the rich people who had modern life style and culture that was incompatible with the medieval Arab culture which was promoted by the teachings of Hadith and Sunna. He was extremely obsessed with recruiting the handsome children of the rich people wearing expensive cloths. He was not interested in guiding poor people.
After discovering his intention and his deep belief that he was the promised MAHDI, I cut my relationship with him in 1988. Soon after this, he turned back to his Sunni roots and market. To expose his real face, I had secretly recorded one of my last conversations with him, but later I gave up releasing it. I just did not feel comfortable with the secrecy of my act. I had given the tape to Mustafa and Yelda Sahin, two of his former followers. However, after I was forced to immigrate and start a new life in America, I learned that the tape was handed to Girisim, an Islamist magazine directed by Mehmet Metiner. The magazine published the transcript to warn Sunni Muslims against Adnan’s Machiavellian politics. In the taped conversation I was reprimanding him for cooperating with Sheikh Nazim of Cyprus who had influence among some wealthy British Muslims. He was apologetic and was justifying his relationship for purposes of using Nazim’s influence. I warned him against for such tactics, since I always believed that honesty is a necessary characteristic of being a Muslim. The transcript of this conversation is available on the Internet and was also posted in Turkish forum .
A funny portion of the conversation reveals the childish tactics used by Adnan Oktar to recruit members for his cult. In that portion I was criticizing him for preferring the wealthy. (The transcript refers to Adnan Octar with acronym A.H. for Adnan Hoca, pronounced Hodja, meaning religious teacher):
A.H.- For instance we purchase a shirt, paying five times more. When the guys see the shirt they come after us.
E.Y.- Alright, I understand; but a person coming because of a shirt will escape because of another shirt.
A.H.- No, they cannot escape; they cannot escape!
Unveiling Adnan’s secret relationship with me and his hypocrisy in his relation with Sunni leaders, in a normal world would mean that he would too be the target of a major attack, threats and excommunication. Surprisingly, despite this scandal, he continued to become a rising star in Sunni market. He was once secretly teaching his followers that Mustafa Kamal Ataturk was the prophesized DAJJAL (deceptor) and later he embraced him for political reasons and declared him a great hero. He is now playing a double game: to appease the Turkish oligarchy he is exploiting Ataturk-worship, and to exploit the Muslim market he is indirectly giving the message that Ataturk was a disbeliever. He played the game of double-speak pretty successfully so far. Adnan has danced among many contradictory positions, but the single conviction he has maintained since early 1980s is “Adnan Oktar is the promised MAHDI.”
When I was trying to convince him about the message of the Quran Alone he did not insist nor even defended any traditional Sunni precepts, with the exception of hadiths about Mahdi. It amazed me for a short while to see him trying to strike a compromise with me regarding this issue. He wanted me to accept his conversion to the Quran Alone together with his belief about the promised Mahdi. I tried to tell him that the Hadiths about Mahdi were among the most fabricated and unreliable Hadiths, even according to the lousy standards of Hadith experts; they were fabricated by the supporters of Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties to promote the interest of the sultans. To him MAHDI (that is his leadership) was the most important subject. His take on Masons and Zionists is just a strategy to get him an international fame and popularity to finally announce his mission to the world. His cult resembles the modus operandi of Moon or Scientology cult: targeting affluent people and exploiting their resources.
We met each other in prison too. In December 3, 1986 I was imprisoned second time for promoting a theocratic revolution in Turkey via the first volume of my best-selling book, Interesting Questions. Though I had written that book before my conversion from Sunni Islam to monotheistic islam, the book was not reflecting my hard core revolutionary ideology; it contained some mild hints and innuendos. But, this was sufficient for the government to imprison me since (unaware of my radical transformation) they were trying to deter me from engaging in open and underground political activities.
I met Adnan in the prison clinic. I was taken there by the doctor who happened to recognize me from my books and conferences; he wanted to save me from the crowded ward which was filled with convicted murderers and burglars. Adnan was there for a different reason, a much different one. He was acting like a paranoid schizophrenic in order to get medical report to dodge the draft. It was ironic, since he was indeed mentally sick; he was a delusional megalomaniac, yet he was cunningly acting for another mental illness. He was successful; he dodged the draft and since then he has been found lacking mental capability to be the subject of criminal law. So, he is getting away with sexual abuses, fraud, libel, blackmailing schemes, and other criminal activities. If Adnan has demonstrated a miracle as a Mahdi, this must be his miracle: he is officially insane and criminally teflon!
Though Adnan is a lay person by academic standards, he is a gifted manipulator, a patient and highly skilled team manager: he uses various highly efficient psychological devises and marketing gimmicks to depict his image as a divinely ordained leader with a great mission. It would be in the best interest of the naïve and young pupils to join his cause, since soon he will be ruling the entire world and they would be his lucky and powerful aids. Besides, the cult provides a holy club for the children of the rich and well connected; they also get second-hand girls as a fringe benefit. In turn they lose their freedom and part of their identity; but we know that millions of people are ready to trade those precious rights and values to join a cult or a religious organization. Though the dates for victory he has given have been extended several times, who would not be the secretary or the spoke person of the long-awaited great ruler of the entire world? If it is not in 1999, then the victory would come in 2005, or in 2014…. The Jehovah Witnesses have extended the end of the world several times in a century, and Adnan, as I know him, is no less talented than them. After his death, his followers will have enough experience to keep the enthusiasm of the army of the Mahdi until the end of the world! An army comprising of rich, educated and devoted cult members who are experts in cutting and pasting, clipping and editing, in putting together the plagiarized pieces like a jig saw puzzle, and are generous in presenting them to masses under the name of their leader, yes this army is a powerful force. But, there is always the risk of getting into a holy fight for leadership after the Mahdi.
Adnan’s relation with me became the topic of articles and political analyses in Turkish media, books and magazines (for instance, see Ayet ve Slogan by Ruþen Çakýr, a prominent Turkish journalist), and his frequent turns and twists have been well documented in Turkish media, such as Hurriyet, Milliyet, Radikal, Sabah newspapers. Many of his followers left him with disappointment; but each time a group left him, he was somehow able to maintain his cult by attracting fresh blood from gullible youth ready to become the future rulers of the globe as Mahdi’s close assistants. His former followers were intimidated and blackmailed in sophisticated ways and occasionally in Mafia style. They work like a professional intelligence agency with covert operations and misinformation campaigns. Their habit of getting what they want via blackmail, slander and libel put them in trouble with high ranking Turkish politicians several years ago. As I said above, Adnan showed his miracle: his medical report regarding his mental illness not only saved him from mandatory military service but also from the criminal prosecutions.
Adnan is not formally educated, neither in science nor in religion, and he is not capable to understand the depth of subjects that are presented in books and videos carrying his nick name. Therefore, you never see him in public debating with experts. A single public discussion on a TV channel would be enough to turn him to the proverbial Naked King. And he may consider this article as my challenge for him: I am ready to meet him in a live debate on TV.
Adnan uses proxies and gets credit for everything. He uses his medical report and gets away for any criminal charge. There are a lot to learn from Adnan Oktar or the exploiter of the names of two messengers of God, Harun and Yahya! His followers, mostly educated and rich, yet gullible youngsters, work day and night to prepare books and videos mostly plagiarized from works of western scientists and artists. In the end, those collaborative and plagiarized works are all together credited to Harun Yahya. Thus, Harun Yahya is a brand name, an artificial name aimed to boost the personal agenda of Adnan Oktar. For instance, in 1990’s many of the books credited to him were written by his former follower Metin Kimildar who also used the nick name Cavit Yalçin. (Where are you Cavit Yalçin now?! Are you now renting your nick name as a portal for Harun Yahya’s websites or is it taken away from you?). His former student MA, who has long time declared his freedom from the Adnan Oktar wrote most of the books on Evolution. Unfortunately, MA’s books are published under the pen name Harun Yahya and credited to Adnan Oktar. Like many of Adnan’s former students who know well the dirty tricks of their former master, MA too is trying to forget the days when he was a young and naive university student.
Adnan Oktar strongly believes that he is the MAHDI (the Sunni and Shiite imitation of Messiah) and he has a powerful charisma, the pool of unlimited gullible rich people and a market of more than a billion individuals easily impressed by the work of his followers.
Knowing him before 1990s, I could not believe that he would be indulging in promiscuous sexual activities, since at that time he was a devout Sunni who was very scrupulous about interacting with women. He would not even shake hands with women. However, according to the media reports and published confessions of his former followers, Adnan has evolved and transformed since. His sexual abuse of girls around him has been the frequent topic of Turkish media and acknowledged by the defectors. He reportedly claims right to have sexual intercourse with every female member of his cult. He has even invented a name for those females: MOTOR (engine). Reportedly, his male followers are feeling lucky in letting him taste their girl friends first.
For recruiting new members and promoting his brand name, he uses sex, money, popular symbols, and famous people. But the main tool he uses is deception, yet I think he does the deception “righteously”, that is for a good end! He justifies his deceptive propaganda by the abused Quranic word TAQIYYA (this holy hypocrisy is a part of belief system of Shiite sect!) After learning Rashad’s claim of messengership and his argument regarding the definition of Rasul and Nabi, Adnan assumed to be a messenger and expressed this belief to his closest circle. I think later, to be able to access the one-billion-head Muslim market, he went back to his original claim of MAHDI. There he could exploit to the bone. (But, his picking Harun Yahya as his nickname indicates his deep belief in his messengership. Why? Well, here is a clue: because of his ignorance of the Quran, he thinks that Harun was not given any book, so according to him Harun was a messenger but not a prophet!)
It is a shame to see modern Muslims are duped by this cult leader like their ancestors duped by Ebu Hurayra and the ilk, and it is a shame that the books and videos falsely attributed to him are so popular in Muslim bookstores like the hadith books falsely attributed to Muhammad are so popular. These books and videos are mostly plagiarized collections of western work that mix truth with falsehood. Science is mixed with pseudo-science, such as ignorant criticisms of the theory of evolution. The message of the Quran is mixed with fabricated hadith, such as the identity and adventures of the Mahdi.
Knowing the history and the success of many delusional people among the gullible, the popularity and success of this man is no surprise.
PS: Adnan Oktar has sued me in a Turkish court for defamation. Through his attorneys he asked me to delete this article from the world of Internet. I rejected his request, since I can prove every claim in this article through media and live witness testimony.