Letter from Turkey

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 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.

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.

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.

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

It's a very interesting development. The Enlightenment did not kill Christianity, but it softened it up and increased its separation from politics.

And as anyone who has looked at religion carefully knows, the tails are affected by the mid-region of the distribution.

by datacharmer | Tuesday, February 26, 2008
  | | Letter from Turkey @bluematterblogtwitter


  1. Anonymous Says:

    Okay- the tails of the distribution are affected by the middle but what could be a concern is how the tails will affect these more moderate Muslims.

    Action perceived as a 'watering down' of the religious message may trigger an increase in the visability of the (relative) fanatics.

    However it's about time 'modernism' (in Islam), which I believe is the most popular strand of Islam in developed countries, got some media coverage in the UK. Good luck to the Turks.