An Islamic Reformation…

…may be one step closer. BBC reports (HT: Jihad Watch):

Turkey is preparing to publish a document that represents a revolutionary reinterpretation of Islam – and a controversial and radical modernisation 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….

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….

This may challenge radical and militant versions of Islam, but may also bring Islamic theory and practice into closer harmony in places such as East Africa, where Islam as generally understood and practiced has been a doctrine stressing not only submission to the one God but also the equality and dignity of human beings. (See, for example, Kai Kresse, Philosophizing in Mombasa.) The Muslims I have known, mostly from Turkey, Pakistan, and India, seem to understand their religion similarly.

One of the most significant features of the emerging Turkish reinterpretation is the rejection of the principle of abrogation:

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.

This is crucial to combating the militant interpretation, since later texts are more violent than earlier ones. It also makes a great deal of intellectual sense. It is easy to point to seeming contradictions in the text of the Koran. The response has traditionally been that earlier verses expressed Allah’s commands specific to a circumstance, but that the last commands given should be understood as applying for all subsequent times and places. At first glance, this makes little sense. Why aren’t all the commands (on topics on which they vary, at any rate) relative to circumstances? If Allah’s commands can change with the situation, as they evidently can, given the texts, why doesn’t applying them to any contemporary situation require a careful comparison of current circumstances to those in which the Koranic commands were given? Suppose I tell you today to open the window, tell you tomorrow to close it, and afterward say nothing about it at all. It seems natural to ask what changed between those two days in order to discern my rationale before proclaiming what my command would be on some future day. It would be bizarre to conclude that I had ordered the window to remain closed for all time.

The Turkish reinterpretation could thus do much to reintegrate reason and faith in Islam.

2 thoughts on “An Islamic Reformation…

  1. It’s a freaking joke! Do you really think the people – I use the term in its loosest manner – who are the problem will listen to ascribe to these new interpretation of the Haddith?

    Possibly this will provide a respite to the US since the jihadis may well concentrate more of their attacks on Turkey, but it will take decades before any lasting positive impact could be realized by this endeavor.

    Don’t get me wrong – this is good. Just don’t hold out any hope of improvement in the next few decades because of it.

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