[Update: Reports of Turkey’s revision plans may have been exaggerated.]
According to the BBC, Turkey’s “Department of Religious Affairs has commissioned a team of theologians at Ankara University to carry out a fundamental revision of the Hadith….” The Hadith are oral traditions about Mohammed and his cohorts, certain collections of which are generally regarded as sacred by Muslims. Here are a few noteworthy items:
- The Turks apparently want the Hadith to support their efforts at creating a modern, secular democracy.
- They are claiming that in their reform, they are actually returning to an original Islam (a claim which may be subject to debate).
- They are rejecting the doctrine of abrogation (later, violent verses of the Quran replacing the earlier, peaceful verses).
- They want to end Islamic justification for honor killings and female genital mutilation.
- It is theoretically possible their efforts could result in a radically reformed version of Sharia, or even an official doctrine of non-Sharia. We’ll see.
- This is the only instance I’m aware of in which Muslims with this degree of official authority have admitted problems within Islam to this extent. This in itself is a welcome step in the right direction.
And here are some issues that are not discussed in this article:
- Time will tell how the rest of the Muslim world will respond to this reform. Let’s not expect a sudden utopia.
- Their reform may turn out to be a worthwhile one, we don’t know yet. However, even if it does, it is quite possible that it will be used by Islamists as taqiyya. The Islamists can say, “See! Sharia’s not so bad,” to sell the West on Sharia, and then do “bait and switch” on us. We need to stay vigilant with those pesky Islamists (or, more accurately, we need to become vigilant in the first place.)
- From this article, it is difficult to see how their approach can neutralize the many problems in the Quran, such as the calls for Jihad, Jizya tax (extra tax on non-Muslims), and massive Jew hatred.
It is good to see a sign of progress, even if it’s too soon to break out the champagne.