The Universality of Islam

The issues brought forth by time and changing circumstances are referred to as secondary methods of jurisprudence. For example, when sea trade was not so complex, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism had no specific rules for it. Such matters are to be referred to ijtihad in the light of basic principles of Islamic belief, morality, and life-style.

Time and conditions are important means to interpret the Qur'an. The Qur'an is like a rose that every passing day develops a new petal and continues to blossom. In order to discover its depth and to obtain its jewels in its deeper veils or strata, a new interpretation should be made at least every 25 years.

The Hanafi understanding and Turkish interpretation dominated more than three-fourths of the Islamic world. This understanding is very dear to me. If you like, you can call this Turkish Islam. Just as I see no serious canonicalobstacle to this, I don't think it should upset anyone. Actually, I think the world needs an interpretation of the Qur'an and Sunna that explains, addresses, and belongs to everyone.

Societies that have never founded states, never known the spirit of Sufism, never experienced the events that the Turkish nation has faced because of the great states it has founded, and have never gained the centuries of experience it gained can't really say anything in the name of universality. Therefore when evaluating the Turkish version and experience of Islam and why it accepted the Hanafi school of law as its empires' formal code of law, the history of Islam in general and Turkish history in particular should be considered.

Turkish Islam is composed of the main, unchanging principles of Islam found in the Qur'an and Sunna, as well as in the forms that its aspects open to interpretation assumed during Turkish history, together with Sufism. More than any other Muslim country, Sufism has spread among the Turks in both Central Asia and Turkey. This is why Turkish Islam always has been broader, deeper, more tolerant and inclusive, and based on love. If we can breathe this spirit into the modern world's carcass, I hope it will gain life.

We must review our understanding of Islam. Islam is not a religion for a particular time. Bediuzzaman asks: "Why, in this world, do others advance and we go backward?" Since Islam is misunderstood, implemented incorrectly, and perceived as a simple religion belonging to the past, today the Islamic world is in a pitiful state.

As Muslims, we must ask ourselves why. Taking the Qur'an and Sunna as our main sources and respecting the great people of the past, in the consciousness that we are all children of time, we must question the past and present. I'm looking for laborers of thought and researchers to establish the necessary balance between the unchanging and changing aspects of Islam and, considering such jurisprudential rules as abrogation, particularization, generalization, and restriction, can present Islam to the modern understanding. The first 5 centuries of Islam were the period when there were many such researchers and scholars. During this period there was a very broad freedom of thought. Only in such an atmosphere can great scholars and thinkers be raised. Hulusi Turgut, Nurculuk, Sabah daily, Jan 23-31, 1997

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