‘Revising’ Islamic texts in Turkey

An intriguing article appeared on the BBC yesterday reporting that theologians in Turkey have been commissioned by the government to revise the Hadith – an important text for Muslims interpreting the Koran (and an important source for Sharia law).

This may well be a very positive thing – particularly in relation to the rights and treatment of women in that society.

Although, as a Bible-believing Christian, I would deny the truth of the Islamic texts, two of the approaches which the article suggests are involved in the process are very similar to what we seek to do in understanding the Bible:

1. Trying to interpret individual verses in the light of the whole text
2. Trying, as far as possible, to return to the ‘text as given’ and so to remove ‘later interpolations’

However, the overall process sounds to be an extremely subjective one in which the aim is really to produce a new version of Islam which suits the needs of the state and the mores of the day.

It is in the light of this that some of the comments by Fadi Hakura (“an expert on Turkey”) seemed particularly inaccurate:

“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. ”

It seems that Mr Hakura hasn’t really grasped anything of the Essence of the Reformation. It wasn’t a revision of the text in the light of current social ideals, it was a return to the text which was used to challenge current social (and particularly religious) practises. The entire basis of the reformation was a submission to the texts themselves – not the subjective revision of the texts.

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