Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Turkey: Islamic texts' revision

The BBC has just reported that Ankara University School of Theology has developed a 'reinterpretation of Islam' for the Turkish government's Department of Religious Affairs, a 'radical revision' of the Hadith, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (which are 'the principal guide for Muslims in interpreting the Koran and the source of the vast majority of Islamic law, or Sharia'). It will cut out hadiths that were invented later and attributed to Muhammad and put "simple" hadiths into the context of other confirmed statements by Muhammad, to rescue the "true" Islam that has been 'hijacked by various - often conservative - cultures, seeking to use the religion for various forms of social control'.

I don't know how it will turn out in practice, but I'm not comfortable with Chatham House's Fadi Hakura opining that, 'Turkey is... changing it [Islam] from a religion whose rules must be obeyed, to one designed to serve the needs of people in a modern secular democracy', when the point is, presumably, hopefully, to ensure that the rules are correctly identified and properly interpreted and that, once that is done, people may choose to obey its rules and live in a modern secular democracy. (That is to say, the point is not to stop people obeying the rules of Islam, but to enable them to obey its rules, rather than those that have been incidentally misinterpreted or maliciously misused.)

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