According to the BBC, Turkey plans to revise the Hadith*. This has the potential to completely transform Islam. The Turkish government takes the position that some of the sayings are incorrectly attributed to Mohammad and some are out-dated. (For more detail see the article.)
The prospect of modernizing Islam excites the imagination. Could they move away from some of the more oppressive rules? Might the more violent interpretations lose favor? We can only wait and see.
Of course, it’s hard not to be a little sympathetic toward the traditionalists – Christianity has had its share of battles over “modernizing” our religion. Of course, my bias says since our religion is true, it shouldn’t be modernized. Muslims will no doubt have the same attitude.
So what position should Christians take toward this move in Islam? May I suggest that we be prayerfully, quietly supportive?
We should support this because, even though this is unlikely to move them toward the gospel, it can only be a good thing if the religion softens some of its hard edges – I think God cares about the oppressed no matter what religion is oppressing them.
We should do it quietly for a couple of reasons. Our reformation was a difficult and at times bloody affair. Islam certainly has the potential for the same problems and more. We don’t want or need to get in the crossfire.
Another reason to support them quietly is that the traditionalists will no doubt attack the modernizers as wanting to imitate or kow tow to the West. Our support will not help them on that point.
Finally, let’s pray for the safety and success of the reformers. This is likely to be a long, slow process. What starts in Turkey may not hit Iran or Saudi Arabia for 100 years. May God grant the reformers success as they seek to soften some of Islam’s rough edges.
* The collected saying of Muhammad which is used to interpret the Koran – making it loosely akin to the Jewish Talmud.