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28 February 2008

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Mo

Colonel,

I am surprised by your take on this. I absolutely share your belief that this is a revolutionary endeavour, but that it wil lead to anything?

The modernist Muslims of the Islamic world, majorities in countries like Lebanon, Syria, Egypt etc. already practice a more modern type of Islam. In fact the most popular Shia Sheik in Lebanon, Hassan Fadlallah, has long preached a modern Islam that probably goes further than this study is going (his site is here).

As for those you would want it to reach, the wahabi'ist salafist brigade and the Wilayat al faqih band, this will be disavowed completely. The fact that it comes from Turkey (with Western experts thrown in) will make it all the easier to disavow as the Islamic world regards anything the Turks do towards Islam as suspicious.

A valiant effort, and perhaps a step in the right direction but a step on a long long road I fear.

When the Saudis do this, now that would be a miracle!

Walrus

Allah be praised! You are right Col. Lang, this is a great and good development.

Cold War Zoomie

Funny, looks like this article answers my question about Shia Tradition versus Catholic tradition in my "Muqtada and the Mahdi Part II" comment.

Looks like the Hadith carries equal theological weight with the Koran for now. So it would resemble the Protestants shedding tradition and relying more on the Bible.

First thing that came to my mind, though, is that people will be fighting this tooth and nail. How many centuries passed between Martin Luther and Vatican II?

Christopher W.

I wonder if there is anyway for the West to get behind this.
I wonder if the West SHOULD get behind this...we've done enough meddling.
But it is an exciting development. Islam needs to get out of the 12th Century. And the Turks might be the ones to pull it off, as the only Middle Eastern developed nation, next to Israel.
I think I'll create a Google News tracker on this.

W. Patrick Lang

Mo

But, this is a contest. Turks, Wahhabis! Let a thousand flowers bloom!

Nasrallah is Shia. For them the gate was never closed no matter how constrained by the ijma' of the hawza. pl

505th PIR

Ihad the opportunity to read this: hmmm

The Turkish Invasion: "Iraq" Falls Apart
Thursday, February 28, 2008: Iraq is disintegrating faster than ever. The Turkish army invaded the north of the country last week and is still there. Iraqi Kurdistan is becoming like Gaza where the Israel can send in its tanks and helicopters at will. The US, so sensitive to any threat to Iraqi sovereignty from Iran or Syria, has blandly consented to the Turkish attack on the one part of Iraq which was at peace.

The Turkish government piously claims that its army is in pursuit of PKK Turkish Kurd guerrillas, but it is unlikely to inflict serious damage on them as they hide in long-prepared bunkers and deep ravines of the Kurdish mountains. What the Turkish incursion is doing is weakening the Kurdistan Regional Government, the autonomous Kurdish zone, the creation of which is one of the few concrete achievements of the US and British invasion of Iraq five years ago.

One of the most extraordinary developments in the Iraqi war has been the success with which the White House has been able to persuade so much of the political and media establishment in the US that, by means of 'the Surge', an extra 30,000 US troops, it is on the verge of political and military success in Iraq. All that is needed now, US generals argue, is political reconciliation between the Iraqi communities.

(Article continues below)


Few demands could be more hypocritical. American success in reducing the level of violence over the last year has happened precisely because Iraqis are so divided. The Sunni Arabs of Iraq were the heart of the rebellion against the American occupation since 2003. In fighting the US forces they were highly successful.

But in 2006, after the bombing of the Shia shrine at Samarra, Baghdad and central Iraq was wracked by a savage civil war between Shia and Sunni. In some months the bodies of 3,000 civilians were found and many others lie buried in the desert or disappeared into the river. I do not know an Iraqi family that did not lose a relative and usually more than one.

The Shia won this civil war. By the end of 2006 they held three quarters of Baghdad. The Sunni rebels, fighting the Mehdi Army Shia militia and the Shia-dominated Iraqi army and police, and also under pressure from al Qa'ida, decided to end their war with US forces. They formed al-Sahwa, the Awakening movement, which is now allied to and paid for by the US.

In effect Iraq now has an 80,000 strong Sunni militia which does not hide its contempt for the Iraqi government which it claims is dominated by Iranian controlled militias. The former anti-American guerrillas have largely joined al-Sahwa. The Shia majority, for its part, is determined not to let the Sunni win back their old control of the Iraqi state. Power in Iraq is more fragmented than ever.

This all may sound like good news for America. For the moment its casualties are down. Fewer Iraqi civilians are being slaughtered. But the Sunni have not fallen in love with the occupation. The fundamental weakness of the US position in Iraq remains its lack of reliable allies outside Kurdistan.

At one moment British officers used to lecture their American counterparts, much to their irritation, about the British Army's rich experience of successful counter-insurgency warfare in Malaya and Northern Ireland. "That showed a fundamental misunderstanding of Iraq on our part," a former British officer in Basra told me in exasperation. "In Malaya the guerrillas all came from the minority Chinese community and in Northern Ireland from the minority Roman Catholics. Basra was exactly the opposite. The majority supported our enemies. We had no friends there."

This lack of allies may not be so immediately obvious in Baghdad and central Iraq because both Shia and Sunni are willing and at times eager to make tactical alliances with US forces. But in the long term neither Sunni nor Shia Arab want the Americans to stay in Iraq. Hitherto the only reliable American allies have been the Kurds who are now discovering that Washington is not going to protect them against Turkey.

Very little is holding Iraq together. The government is marooned in the Green Zone. Having declared the Surge a great success the US military commanders need just as many troops to maintain a semblance of control now as they did before the Surge. The mainly Shia police force regards al-Sahwa as anti-government guerrillas wearing new uniforms.

The Turkish invasion should have given the government in Baghdad a chance to defend Iraq's territorial integrity and burnish its patriotic credentials. Instead the prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has chosen this moment to have his regular medical check up in London, a visit which his colleagues say is simply an excuse to escape Baghdad. Behind him he has left a country which is visibly falling apart.

Source:
http://www.counterpunch.org/patrick02282008.html

Mark Pyruz

Similar trends to this can be claimed for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Claims such as theologians "have been using Western critical techniques and philosophy". Iranian examples are pronounced, such as the leading edge physics department at Qom. And, it is acknowledged by some that Imam Khomeini utilized certain aspects of Plato's Republic, in establishing the Islamic Republic. A more dynamic approach to Islam is a characteristic of Shia theology.

Mo

Yes, it has traditionally been the Sunnis that have penned themselves into the rigid corners by closing the gates but the Iranian clergy are doing a pretty good job of catching up.
Unfortunately, I would doubt that any Iranian/Saudi/Pakistani will be allowed to take the Turkish work as defense for any action/inaction, and I doubt that any Muslim with a prediliction for extremism is going to be swayed by this.

If respected major clerics in the region start to sign on and propogate it, then we may see a revolution - However I doubt any one of them will be bold enough to take that first step

jr786

"He says that to achieve it, the state is fashioning a new Islam."

I'm sorry, but that's blasphemy. Even the most moderate Muslim cannot accept a statement like this and still call himself Muslim. Koran 5:3 states in part:

This day have those who disbelieved despaired of your religion, so fear them not and fear Me. This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed my favor to you and chosen for you Islam as a religion.

Acknowledging the right of the State to 're-design' Islam is shirk, not itijihad.

Looks like the Hadith carries equal theological weight with the Koran for now.

There is an immense amount that could be said about this, beginning with an understanding of what the statement of faith can and should mean to Muslims.

b

Let's hope the project creates a historic critic of the Hadith in Arabic and Farsi, not only in Turkish.

A questions:

The Turkish project does not only aims for a new interpretation of the Hadith, but questions basic parts of it.

Isn't this more than opening "Gate of Ijtihad"?

Is Ijtihad about interpretation of the content of the Hadith (and Quran) or about challenging the content itself?

Cold War Zoomie

These were helpful to me:

Ijtihad

Sunnah

Middle age requires constant refreshers.

john in the boro

The Guardian published a similar article:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/feb/27/turkey.islam However, http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/english/turkey/8332687.asp?gid=231&sz=90057 highlights the political uses of Islam in Turkey: see the cited articles (BBC and Guardian) and Pat as well. Not wishing to be misunderstood in such a sensitive matter, Dr. Mehmet Görmez issued a rebuttal to the recent spat of Western reports, the BBC article in particular http://www.worldbulletin.net/news_detail.php?id=18834 . The “Thematic Hadith Project”, as Dr. Mehmet Görmez describes it, is a scholarly effort to thoroughly source Hadiths, their chains of transmission, interpretations, and resultant traditions. This is an ambitious and problematic project.

Abu Sinan

Hadith never has carried the same weight as The Qur'an and never will. The Qu'ran being the literal word of God and Hadith being reported sayings of a Prophet being passed down by men.

Hadith are sayings of the Prophet that have been preserved through a whole litany of processes. One of the main facts of a Hadith is that it cannot contradict The Qur'an. If it does it is automatically suspect and usually thrown out.

As a Muslim myself I am all for reformation, but we need to be sure we don't throw the baby out with the bath water and reform ourselves into something unrecognisable.

I am suspicious anytime a government gets involved in religion and Turkey is no exception.

Even if this "reformation" takes hold, like anything else in the Muslim world, it is entirely likely to be very regional.

Some of the stuff that the Shi'a have done in the name of ijtihad goes beyond the extreme, like some scholars in Iran issuing rulings that sex change operations are okay. If the Turkish reforms move in this insane direction they will fail miserably.

china_hand

This is fascinating. I have sent it off to all my family and friends and asked them to watch for word of its development. I suspect, however, that Muslims in general will view it so unkindly that it will fail.

Let us not forget that this is the government descended from the same Ottoman Empire that, essentially, laid the groundwork for today's "Muslim vs Jew" confrontation (or at the very least elaborated the rhetoric into its current manisfestation). Moderate, educated Muslims will not be kind towards its efforts.

More to the point, Islam has historically resisted national governments and federated authority in favor of person-to-person contact. This is, fundamentally, the reason why modern methods of governance and manipulation have met with such widespread resistance: Mulsims -- unlike the Americans, British, and other Europeans -- want to know someone who knows their national leaders.

The few counter-examples that can be garnered are all either clear cultural responses to Western aggression or acknowledged even among Muslims as an exception (i.e. -- Egypt).

Thank you, Colonel, for bringing this to our attention.

Cold War Zoomie

Hadith never has carried the same weight as The Qur'an and never will. The Qu'ran being the literal word of God and Hadith being reported sayings of a Prophet being passed down by men.

Jeez Marie - I need to learn to read again:

...the second most sacred text in Islam after the Koran.

...straight from the article...in the first paragraph!

I'm surprised nobody slammed me on this!

Y'all are way too nice here.

Duh...which way did he go?...which way did he go?...

Duncan Kinder
And, it is acknowledged by some that Imam Khomeini utilized certain aspects of Plato's Republic, in establishing the Islamic Republic.
  1. Which aspects are these?
  2. Both Platonic philosophy and Islam are fairly comprehensive systems. Accordingly, it would be surprising if they failed to overlap in at least some respects. So are not these "shared aspects" anything more than a coincidence?
Abu Sinan

China_Hand,

This Turkish government is directly related to the early secular Turkish government, that after the fall of the Empire, did so much to repress Islam and Turkish culture.

This was a government that banned the wearing of a beard and imprisioned those who wore it and would extract the beards of men hair by hair.

Of course in Islam the wearing of a beard is required, so basically secular regime in Turkey now was founded on supressing Islamic practice. To this day women are not allowed to cover in government buildings, including schools. A law which the current government is working to end.

The Turkish government itself has no credibility amoungst Muslims and for good reason.

Charles Cameron

jr786 writes:

Acknowledging the right of the State to 're-design' Islam is shirk, not itijihad.

It seems to me that "bid'a" (the introduction of novelty in religion) rather than "shirk" (the association of anything other than God with God) would be the potential concern here, and "fitna" (schism and conflict) the downstream risk.

To judge by Dr. Görmez' comments, however, the BBC's description of the project is far from the project's own self-presentation, which is careful to avoid even the slightest suggestion of bid'a.

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

The application of the methods of Literary Criticism to the Hadith of the Prophet is interesting from a scholarly point of view. It impacts the "Uloom-e Manqool". But it will not be "...kind of akin to the Christian Reformation,".

There are multiple reason for this:

1. Inherent conservatism of the religious establishments (of any religion)

2. The soruce of the project - ostensibly secular Turkey

Moreover, this will not open the gates of Ijtihad for Sunni Muslims.

The main issue, in my opinion, that afflicts Muslim polities is the absence of the Rule of Law. What does it matter if new rules are enacted - through the gate of Ijtihad - if those rules that already exist are not applied and a Muslim remains unsafe in his person, in his property, and in his namus?

Charles Cameron

jr786 writes:

Acknowledging the right of the State to 're-design' Islam is shirk, not itijihad.

It seems to me that "bid'a" (the introduction of novelty in religion) rather than "shirk" (the association of anything other than God with God) would be the potential concern here, and "fitna" (schism and conflict) the downstream risk.

To judge by Dr. Görmez' comments, however, the BBC's description of the project is far from the project's own self-presentation, which is careful to avoid even the slightest suggestion of bid'a.

Arun

Off-topic, but is the Turkish incursion into Iraq deliberately timed to keep the Kurds from Kosovo-inspired dreams?

Arun

Worth a read, to find out the balance of Hadith and Quran in practice:

http://indianmuslims.in/quran-hadith-and-women/

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