Thursday, February 28, 2008

An Islamic Reformation?

According to Islam, the goal of life is to submit and obey God. For the Muslim, this means obedience to God's revelation in the Qur'an. However, because many daily concerns are not addressed in the Qur'an, how does a Muslim know what God requires? To answer these types of questions Muslims turn to the example of Muhammad, as recorded in the hadith. Hadiths are reports of the actions, sayings, and teachings of the prophet. These hadiths are grouped into various collections, some more authoritative than others. Therefore, although theologically the Qur'an is more important to a Muslim, the hadiths are more influential in their day to day life.

The reliability of the hadiths have for the most part been unquestioned within Islam, that is, until now.

In a recent BBC story it is reported that the Turkish Department of Religious Affairs has commissioned theologians at the Ankara University to study the hadiths and provide a revised edition of the collection. The Turkish government and the leading theologians in Turkey believe that many of the hadiths are not authentic and that they obscure the true teachings of Islam. They argue that many of the hadiths have taken on "cultural baggage" that is passed off as true Islam. According to the Turkish government, these inauthentic hadiths often have negative influence on Muslim societies.

It is difficult to say exactly how much this will affect the Muslim world; however, it is certain that if this new revised edition of the hadiths begins to be used around the world, Islam will begin to look much differently. Also, as with the Protestant Reformation, we could see a division within the Muslim world between those who accept the new collection of hadiths and those who will hold on to the old. Only time will tell.

Here is the link to the BBC story:

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