Morality, Justice and Women's Rights: a Portrait of Islam for the 21st Century

February 27, 2008

Author: Suna Erdem

Source: The Times

Turkey's highest religious authority is preparing to publish a groundbreaking guide to Islam for the modern world, putting the words of the Prophet Muhammad into context for a sweeping reinterpretation of the religion.

The Presidency of Religious Affairs in this Muslim, but strongly secular, country has commissioned a thorough review of the sayings of the Prophet, or the Hadith, which constitute the second most sacred text in the religion after the Koran.

“The project takes its inspiration from the interpretations of the modernist vein of Islam,” Professor Mehmet Gormez, vice-president of religious affairs and senior Hadith lecturer at Ankara University, told The Times. “This gets obscured by modern clichés but reinterpretation is actually part of the basic fabric of Islam.”

He said that one of the aims was to separate the religion from the traditionalist cultural elements that have long hampered a true vision of Islam. The Hadith guide, to be published as a book this year, would make it much more difficult to justify extreme, misogynistic and violent interpretations of Islam, Professor Gormez said.