Author Topic: Turkey In Reformation of Islam?  (Read 2534 times)

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Offline FrChris

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Turkey In Reformation of Islam?
« on: February 26, 2008, 08:08:09 PM »

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7264903.stm

Turkey in radical revision of Islamic texts

Turkey is preparing to publish a document that represents a revolutionary reinterpretation of Islam - and a controversial and radical modernisation of the religion.

The country's powerful Department of Religious Affairs has commissioned a team of theologians at Ankara University to carry out a fundamental revision of the Hadith, the second most sacred text in Islam after the Koran.

The Hadith is a collection of thousands of sayings reputed to come from the Prophet Muhammad.

As such, it is the principal guide for Muslims in interpreting the Koran and the source of the vast majority of Islamic law, or Sharia.

But the Turkish state has come to see the Hadith as having an often negative influence on a society it is in a hurry to modernise, and believes it responsible for obscuring the original values of Islam.

It says that a significant number of the sayings were never uttered by Muhammad, and even some that were need now to be reinterpreted.

'Reformation'

Commentators say the very theology of Islam is being reinterpreted in order to effect a radical renewal of the religion.

Its supporters say the spirit of logic and reason inherent in Islam at its foundation 1,400 years ago are being rediscovered. Some believe it could represent the beginning of a reformation in the religion.

Turkish officials have been reticent about the revision of the Hadith until now, aware of the controversy it is likely to cause among traditionalist Muslims, but they have spoken to the BBC about the project, and their ambitious aims for it.

The forensic examination of the Hadiths has taken place in Ankara University's School of Theology.

An adviser to the project, Felix Koerner, says some of the sayings - also known individually as "hadiths" - can be shown to have been invented hundreds of years after the Prophet Muhammad died, to serve the purposes of contemporary society.

"Unfortunately you can even justify through alleged hadiths, the Muslim - or pseudo-Muslim - practice of female genital mutilation," he says.

"You can find messages which say 'that is what the Prophet ordered us to do'. But you can show historically how they came into being, as influences from other cultures, that were then projected onto Islamic tradition."

The argument is that Islamic tradition has been gradually hijacked by various - often conservative - cultures, seeking to use the religion for various forms of social control.

Leaders of the Hadith project say successive generations have embellished the text, attributing their political aims to the Prophet Muhammad himself.

Revolutionary

Turkey is intent on sweeping away that "cultural baggage" and returning to a form of Islam it claims accords with its original values and those of the Prophet.

But this is where the revolutionary nature of the work becomes apparent. Even some sayings accepted as being genuinely spoken by Muhammad have been altered and reinterpreted.

Prof Mehmet Gormez, a senior official in the Department of Religious Affairs and an expert on the Hadith, gives a telling example.

"There are some messages that ban women from travelling for three days or more without their husband's permission and they are genuine.

"But this isn't a religious ban. It came about because in the Prophet's time it simply wasn't safe for a woman to travel alone like that. But as time has passed, people have made permanent what was only supposed to be a temporary ban for safety reasons."

The project justifies such bold interference in the 1,400-year-old content of the Hadith by rigorous academic research.

Prof Gormez points out that in another speech, the Prophet said "he longed for the day when a woman might travel long distances alone".

So, he argues, it is clear what the Prophet's goal was.

Original spirit

Yet, until now, the ban has remained in the text, and helps to restrict the free movement of some Muslim women to this day.

As part of its aggressive programme of renewal, Turkey has given theological training to 450 women, and appointed them as senior imams called "vaizes".

They have been given the task of explaining the original spirit of Islam to remote communities in Turkey's vast interior.

One of the women, Hulya Koc, looked out over a sea of headscarves at a town meeting in central Turkey and told the women of the equality, justice and human rights guaranteed by an accurate interpretation of the Koran - one guided and confirmed by the revised Hadith.

She says that, at the moment, Islam is being widely used to justify the violent suppression of women.

"There are honour killings," she explains.

"We hear that some women are being killed when they marry the wrong person or run away with someone they love.

"There's also violence against women within families, including sexual harassment by uncles and others. This does not exist in Islam... we have to explain that to them."

'New Islam'

According to Fadi Hakura, an expert on Turkey from Chatham House in London, Turkey is doing nothing less than recreating Islam - changing it from a religion whose rules must be obeyed, to one designed to serve the needs of people in a modern secular democracy.

He says that to achieve it, the state is fashioning a new Islam.

"This is kind of akin to the Christian Reformation," he says.

"Not exactly the same, but if you think, it's changing the theological foundations of [the] religion. "

Fadi Hakura believes that until now secularist Turkey has been intent on creating a new politics for Islam.

Now, he says, "they are trying to fashion a new Islam."

Significantly, the "Ankara School" of theologians working on the new Hadith have been using Western critical techniques and philosophy.

They have also taken an even bolder step - rejecting a long-established rule of Muslim scholars that later (and often more conservative) texts override earlier ones.

"You have to see them as a whole," says Fadi Hakura.

"You can't say, for example, that the verses of violence override the verses of peace. This is used a lot in the Middle East, this kind of ideology.

"I cannot impress enough how fundamental [this change] is."
"As the sparrow flees from a hawk, so the man seeking humility flees from an argument". St John Climacus

Offline Νεκτάριος

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Re: Turkey In Reformation of Islam?
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2008, 08:23:00 PM »
Another major event in the Islamic world these past few days has been the condemnation of terrorism by some very conservative madrasas in India. 

We can only pray that this generation of war will produce that same sort of repulsion for violence that WWI and WWII created in Europe. 

Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Re: Turkey In Reformation of Islam?
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2008, 10:24:10 PM »
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7264903.stm

According to Fadi Hakura, an expert on Turkey from Chatham House in London,... "I cannot impress enough how fundamental [this change] is."

As a former Muslim I wholeheartedly agree with this statement, it really is huge.  Yet two things came to mind when reading this article.  The first was that the Turks are, as a whole, nowhere near as radical as say, the ruling Wahabi sect in Sa'udi Arabia.  So this move, though huge, doesn't really surprise me as much as it would had the Sa'udi's or Egyptians made such a move.  The second thing that came to mind is that the use of logic and interpretation (ijtihad) is still employed by Islam's other half- the Shi'ites.

In addition to praying that someday things will get better with Constantinople, I also pray that maybe this will help the cause against Islamic extremism.

Another major event in the Islamic world these past few days has been the condemnation of terrorism by some very conservative madrasas in India. 

We can only pray that this generation of war will produce that same sort of repulsion for violence that WWI and WWII created in Europe. 
Amen!
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Offline Myrrh23

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Re: Turkey In Reformation of Islam?
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2008, 10:48:53 PM »
Hey Guys!

Through this re-examining and re-interpretation, maybe Muslims will finally figure out that Jesus really is God-in-the-flesh... :)
Oh, and that He WAS crucified and died before He rose again...
Maybe this is the Enlightenment of Islam that GIC so salivates for.... ;)
« Last Edit: February 26, 2008, 10:59:06 PM by Myrrh23 »
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Offline Myrrh23

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Re: Turkey In Reformation of Islam?
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2008, 11:00:47 PM »
Hey GIC---


Since you love ethnic stuff, shall the OC.net get you a Prayer Rug when Islam comes to It's senses?  ;D
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We all have a Black Dog and a White Dog inside of us. The One you feed the most eventually eats the Other.

All are tempted, but it is the courageous person who clings to God during the storm. For the Ego is a prison, but Christ is the Liberator

Offline GiC

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Re: Turkey In Reformation of Islam?
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2008, 12:53:20 AM »
Hey GIC---


Since you love ethnic stuff, shall the OC.net get you a Prayer Rug when Islam comes to It's senses?  ;D

If Islam can embrace the ideals of the Enlightenment and become as liberal and tolerant as Christianity has become, I will happily hold hands with my Moslem brethern, face Mecca, and say a common ecumenical prayer to the One God of love, mercy, and forgiveness, whom all should worship. ;)

But while I think this is a step in the right direction, Islam has a long ways to go.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2008, 12:53:33 AM by greekischristian »
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Offline Jetavan

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Re: Turkey In Reformation of Islam?
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2008, 12:35:45 PM »
But while I think this is a step in the right direction, Islam has a long ways to go.

Is this a sign that even Rome may change and return to its Orthodox roots? :o
« Last Edit: February 27, 2008, 12:39:25 PM by Jetavan »
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Offline TinaG

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Re: Turkey In Reformation of Islam?
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2008, 02:59:38 PM »
When the Ecumenical Patriarch has to put snow chains on his car in July, I'll believe there is hope for a change. 
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Offline Myrrh23

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Re: Turkey In Reformation of Islam?
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2008, 05:14:44 PM »
Quote
When the Ecumenical Patriarch has to put snow chains on his car in July, I'll believe there is hope for a change.

What do you mean? ???
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We all have a Black Dog and a White Dog inside of us. The One you feed the most eventually eats the Other.

All are tempted, but it is the courageous person who clings to God during the storm. For the Ego is a prison, but Christ is the Liberator

Offline ytterbiumanalyst

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Re: Turkey In Reformation of Islam?
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2008, 05:22:51 PM »
When the Ecumenical Patriarch has to put snow chains on his car in July, I'll believe there is hope for a change. 
True; the Turks have not been kind to the EP. I think this move is probably politically motivated (but that's a topic for the private forum).
"It is remarkable that what we call the world...in what professes to be true...will allow in one man no blemishes, and in another no virtue."--Charles Dickens

Offline Jetavan

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Re: Turkey In Reformation of Islam?
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2008, 06:25:21 PM »
True; the Turks have not been kind to the EP. I think this move is probably politically motivated (but that's a topic for the private forum).

You're saying politics can be separated from religion? :o
If you will, you can become all flame.
Extra caritatem nulla salus.
In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
सर्वभूतहित
Ἄνω σχῶμεν τὰς καρδίας
"Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is." -- Mohandas Gandhi
Y dduw bo'r diolch.

Offline ytterbiumanalyst

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Re: Turkey In Reformation of Islam?
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2008, 06:45:54 PM »
^ LOL!
"It is remarkable that what we call the world...in what professes to be true...will allow in one man no blemishes, and in another no virtue."--Charles Dickens

Offline John of the North

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Re: Turkey In Reformation of Islam?
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2008, 06:55:54 PM »
What do you mean? ???

Meaning......there is no hope.

Quote
If Islam can embrace the ideals of the Enlightenment and become as liberal and tolerant as Christianity has become, I will happily hold hands with my Moslem brethern, face Mecca, and say a common ecumenical prayer to the One God of love, mercy, and forgiveness, whom all should worship.

Liberal Christianity! *gasp* *faints* THUD!
"Christianity is not a philosophy, not a doctrine, but life." - Elder Sophrony (Sakharov)

Offline Irenaeus07

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Re: Turkey In Reformation of Islam?
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2008, 07:05:42 PM »
If Islam can embrace the ideals of the Enlightenment and become as liberal and tolerant as Christianity has become, I will happily hold hands with my Moslem brethern, face Mecca, and say a common ecumenical prayer to the One God of love, mercy, and forgiveness, whom all should worship. ;)

But while I think this is a step in the right direction, Islam has a long ways to go.

What do you mean by ideas of enlightenment? And what do you mean liberal and tolerant as Christianity???

I am curious as to how you are defining these words.

Offline Eugenio

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Re: Turkey In Reformation of Islam?
« Reply #14 on: February 29, 2008, 11:00:32 PM »
Wow. A "liberal" Islam? This will probably really invoke the wrath of the fundamentalists.

Offline Irenaeus07

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Re: Turkey In Reformation of Islam?
« Reply #15 on: March 02, 2008, 12:50:44 AM »
Wow. A "liberal" Islam? This will probably really invoke the wrath of the fundamentalists.

I don't like the term fundamentalist, a much proper term is extremist. I've some Christian refer to the Orthodox Christian as being difficult and hard etc etc, and this is because Orthodox Christians want to practice the basic fundamentals of the religion.

A fundamentalist strive to basic fundamentals of the religions, which in its proper context even within the Islamic faith isn't extreme.  Although there may be some position which are extreme, the generality of Islam is not extreme, in terms of its practicality.

There has been liberals in Islam for long time, the Muslims call them modernist.  The modernist are the extreme liberals, most Muslims do not even consider them to be Muslim.  Then you have the lesser extreme liberals, although considered to be Muslim are deviants or heretics.

I really don't know where the Turks fit in all this as the Article did not go into the details.