Turkey is preparing to publish a document that represents a revolutionary reinterpretation of Islam – and a controversial and radical modernization 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 modernize, 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.