Update: For the record I am not, in any way, muted or otherwise, celebrating the removal of hadiths. I am not claiming to be knowledged in the art of hadith science. I do not believe that scholars of Islam should be required to use some sort of abbridged version of hadiths. I thought I made that clear but apparently not. Additionally, when I say that Muslims are not required to follow hadith, I am not saying that hadiths are not a second source for Muslims. In the future, I would appreciate a comment on my blog or an email to me expressing any concerns that are had with statements that I make – if our concern is not to have a misrepresentation then it is wiser to sort it out on the concerned post rather than making it a top post.
I have to say that I found this to be quite surprising but I guess I’m not surprised with where it’s comming from.
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.
You must read the whole article here.
I’m sure this will cause a bit of a stir amongst the wahabis and salafis but as for the mainstream Muslims, it will really depend on exactly what they are doing. If they are going through the Hadiths to once again reinterpret them – to provide the historical backgrounds on the hadith and eliminating some of the Hadiths that are known to be very very weak or false then I think no one will mind and who knows it may even be possible that this provides a reference, a collection of hadith for moderate Muslims. However, if it is being done in a manner which is going to look like modernizing Islam by forcing the Turkish scholars to use only these new and improved hadiths – the project could fail even in secularizing the average Muslims of Turkey. Islamic jurisprudence is basically an art and science all in one. Just because one hadith seems to have one moral – that doesn’t mean that the hadith couldn’t have another moral in today’s time. Additionally, Muslims are not required to follow hadiths .. a hadith should not abrogate a Quranic verse .. although it does happen and we see that happening in cases of stonings. Those that are learned in the traditional field of Islamic jurisprudence are able to come to rulings which are fair and just for today’s society through the very hadiths that fundamentalists use to come to inhumane practices.
Personally, I’d like to see a collection which further explains the historical backgrounds of these hadiths and how these hadiths are reasonably being interpreted in today’s society. I think the answer is in educating the average Muslim who likes to follow hadiths instead of giving them a set of “stamped and approved” hadiths, let them come to an informed conclusion which uses reason (as is required by the Quran). I think anything beyond that, in our present situation, is going to cause controversy:
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.”
So .. what do you think?