Even though the Turkish state is grounded on secularist principles, the shari'a debate is hardly absent from contemporary politics, and it has been the main point of contention between the secularists and Islamic forces. In March 2008, the chief prosecutor of the Republic of Turkey, Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya, petitioned the Constitutional Court to ban the governing Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi (AKP, Justice and Development Party) and bar seventy politicians, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul, from politics, on the grounds that the AKP was covertly seeking to impose shari'a by dismantling the secular reform of Mustafa Kemal. In order to support the court case and defend secularism, a number of public demonstrations were organized by several civil NGOs. The most popular slogan of the Republican demonstrations was "no shari'a, no coup-democratic Turkey." On July 30, 2008, the court announced its decision not to ban the AKP. Yet it ruled that the party engaged in anti-secular activities (such as some speeches by the party's leadership, and lifting the restrictions on university students' wearing the headscarf ) and decided to cut by half the party's funding from the treasury. The court defined shari'a as an alternative religio-political system seeking to replace the secular democratic structure of Turkey. Turkey is an interesting case study of a secular system in a predominantly Muslim society, revealing the ongoing development of the relations between religion and morality, on one hand, and Islamic politics and democracy, on the other, within the Muslim world. The Republic of Turkey, implementing the most rigorous secular project in the Muslim world, used all means available either to exclude Islamic norms from the public sphere or to ethicalize them by treating them as voluntary moral principles and stressing their general, universally applicable, nature (Hefner 2000). These moral principles include trust, honesty, self-discipline, charity, justice, solidarity, and peace. According to Sabri Ulgener, a prominent Turkish sociologist, religion in Turkey provides the most effective and flexible shared core values of social unity (Ulgener 2006). The remaining symbols, vocabulary, and tacit assumptions of shari'a offer social integration and a map for action. Religiously informed values provide a shared language in which diverse groups articulate their own visions of Islam and of diverse lifestyles. One could treat Islam as the social grammar of Turkish society; it facilitates public conversation and debate and empowers different groups to form their own political arguments concerning the public good. Conversation, and thus political negotiation, depends on the continued use of familiar terms, yet in Turkey shari'a politics have modified the meanings those terms carry. In this essay I argue that the meanings of Islam and Islamic law embraced by a significant proportion of the present Turkish population resist the traditional, imposed, constraining features of earlier Muslim society and instead embrace the discursive democratic solidarity of modern Muslim identity. The moral realism at the core of shari'a discourse persists from older into modern Turkey, but many modern Turks no longer find certain cultural accretions, which produce morally arbitrary intolerance, acceptable. Some recognize that certain practices are historically encased, and do not belong to the modern period. Thus radical punishments and archaic legal forms and institutions (which are largely centuries-old solutions to problems that have now been solved in other ways) need not survive in order that Islam survive. The core of Islamic belief can survive without these and other accretions, and modern Turks are proving this by maintaining their identity as Muslims while rejecting a formalistically literal interpretation of shari'a. Where they invoke shari'a or related vocabularies, these are simply emblematic of the core of their belief. This core is bonding, not binding, and militates against the false dichotomy of "sacred" and "secular." Religious expression and practice are mutable and have been changed to stretch secularism around the structure of bonding, democratic core belief. In a society where democracy is fully internalized, religious networks and arguments remain the most effective inner motivating force to shape the rhythm of daily life, and new understandings of Islam are also a product of this life. Despite theories of secularization, which predict the decline of religion, economic development and the deepening of democracy in Turkey have transformed Islam and brought it into public and political spaces. Old and new social actors are struggling over the meanings of Islamic norms and practices and are constantly competing to reconfigure Islam in new forms to meet emerging challenges. Charles Taylor argues that "modern developments destabilize early forms of religion and . . . religion has to be recomposed, reformed" (Taylor 2008). In the case of Turkey, one sees these new configurations of Islam being formulated by the believers themselves. Islam in Turkey is undergoing major transformations as a result of the expansion of politicaleconomic spaces and the public sphere (Gole and Ammann 2006). Islamic activism in Turkey stresses ethicalized Islam instead of Islamic law enforced by the state. Many conscious Muslims believe that ethicalized Islam is more effective in shaping interpersonal relations than state-imposed Islamic law. In this chapter, then, I argue that the contemporary understandings of Islam in Turkey are largely free from shari'a discourses as a result of certain socio-historical transformations and the existence of a powerful anti-shari'a legacy. Indeed, the meaning and role of shari'a also vary among the four main groupings active within what we can call the Islamic sector. Each grouping has its own mode of understanding Islam and shari'a. These four configurations are the state-centric "enlightened" Islam of the Directorate of Religious Affairs (DRA); "societal Islam," as formulated and defended by Alevi and Sunni Nurcu groups; "political Islam," the movement whose primary aim is to mobilize voters and win control of the government; and the radical yet very effective Islam as an ideology of resistance to the nation-building secular project of Mustafa Kemal. Before explaining Turkey's overall departure from formalist understandings of shari'a, I submit here a few definitions upon which my conceptions of Turkish history, sociology, theology, and legal tradition rely. First, the departures from shari'a witnessed in Turkey suggest the country's embrace of an "ethicalized" understanding of Islam. This is to suggest not that formal constructions of shari'a are lacking in ethical content, but that shari'a and ethics represent particular and general kinds of morality, respectively. To the extent that shari'a is derived from the Qur'an and Arabic custom, it represents a fraction of humans' collective normative experience-a significant fraction, but a fraction nonetheless; whereas the term "ethics" more naturally represents a broader category containing all such fractions. Whether the prescriptions of shari'a are more righteous than those of other systems is not in question here. Rather, what matters is the particular, authoritative character more typical of the first, and the general, consensual character more typical of the latter. In order to better understand the contested nature of shari'a and the gradual efflorescence of ethical Islam in Turkey, this chapter seeks to answer the following four questions. First, what does shari'a mean in the Turkish context? Why have significant numbers of Turks developed a new conceptual framework to discuss ethical, not legal, aspects of Islam? Second, what are the sociointellectual origins of the diverse and even conflicting meanings of shari'a? Third, what accounts for these diverse understandings of the role of Islam in the public and private spheres? Finally, who has authority to speak on matters of shari'a? In order to answer these questions, I will start with a discussion of recent surveys on understandings of shari'a, and will seek to understand public discourse on shari'a through a focus group I formed during field research in 2008. In the second section, I will provide socio-historical background by laying out historical and political parameters within which Islamic actors and movements debate shari'a. In this section, after introducing the dual nature of the Ottoman legal system and bureaucracy, I will summarize how the decline of the state led to two diametrically different solutions: a more public and political understanding of shari'a and a secularized state system. This section of the chapter will also examine 1) the secular reforms of the Tanzimat period (1839- 78), and the ulama's reaction to them; 2) Mustafa Kemal's Jacobin secularization, intended to cleanse Islam from public spaces; and 3) the socio-political impact of recent neo-liberal economic policies (1980-present). The last part of the chapter will examine the four Islamic perspectives on shari'a. As a result of the socio-historical parameters of Turkey, there is a growing emphasis on bonding (identity-based and moral) rather than binding (legal and mandatory) aspects of Islam. In Turkey, the majority of the population tend to define those Islamic practices and rules that are enforced by the power of the state as shari'a and do not support such enforcement.