Istanbul Al-Milal wa-an-Nihal Center for Belief, Culture and Mythology Studies
Milel and Nihal (Al-Milal wa-an Nihal) is a platform for research on belief, culture and mythology. It is a research center that aims to examine religious beliefs and traditions that are outside the circle of Islam, within an academic framework. Organizationally, this center is administered by the academicians of Istanbul University serving at the Faculty of Theology’s department of History of Religions. However, the center welcomes contributions from all religious researchers of Turkey. This research facility also houses a library, which was built specifically for religious studies, also serves as a research center for graduate students. The research center regularly organizes seminars and conferences pertinent to academic research on religious studies.
The center also publishes a journal named “Milel and Nihal: Belief, Culture and Mythology Research Journal”, which is quite important from religious academic research perspective. This journal has articles on subjects ranging from the history of religions in Turkey to philosophy of religion and religious sociology, and other research content related to the discipline of religious studies. The journal has a long and successful history and considered the most established and prestigious journal of religious studies in Turkey. The journal publishes articles in Turkish and English and is open and accesible to all researchers as an international publication.
Milel and Nihal
The word "milel", which is the plural of the Arabic term "nation", refers to fundamental religious movements and religious traditions or religious movements based on the tradition of revelation. Likewise, the ‘nihal’ term is the plural of Arabic word ‘nihle’ which refers to sects and factions, sub-sectarian groups, or describe religious movements that are not based on the revelation tradition. In every case, the concepts of Milel and Nihal include all kinds of human belief and idea systems and their social, political and ideological traditions. In this respect, studies in the context of this tradition aim to create a cultural atlas which introduces, defines and even compares the cultural heritage of humanity.
The Milel and Nihal characterizes a tradition that encompasses the study of religious studies in the history of Islamic scholarship. In this research field, which is expressed as "the tradition of Milel and Nihal", different beliefs and thought systems that are outside of Islam, have been examined. In the tradition of Milel and Nihal, that is a long standing and rooted element of Islamic scholarship heritage, many works have been written and produced since the 11th century. It is said that the first work bearing the title of Milel and Nihal belonged to Aldulkahir al-Baghdadi, but that piece of work was not preserved and couldn’t reach the present day. It is also known that many people, such as Ibn Hazm, Shahristani and others, wrote and produced works under the title of Milel and Nihal. It is possible to classify the studies, written by authors such as Ibnu’n Nedim and al-Biruni in the later periods, in the context of the Milel and Nihal tradition. Our religious research center and our journal has been named after this tradition, Milel and Nihal, which expresses and provides an objective and descriptive perspective of other religions by scholars trained in the Islamic scholarship tradition.