Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) head Ali Erbaş has said the words Islam and reform should not appear in the same sentence, but that the interpretation of Islamic jurisprudence, referred to as “fiqh,” could be updated.
“It is not correct to put the words of Islam and reform next to each other in any way. But Fıqh is always subject to update and needs to be updated,” he said on March 12 during a program broadcasted by CNN Türk.
“There are constants in Islam and there are also variables. With time, judgements may also change. We indicate that judgements may sometimes change because there is a need for that,” Erbaş said, emphasizing that time required updates in “fiqh,” but not in “Islam.”
Indicating that the most important two sources of Islam were the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammed, referred to as “Sunnah,” he said these two sources would preserve their “universality,” “inalterability” and “stability.”
Erbaş’s comments came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s comments on the necessity for an “update” of Islamic regulations.
“You cannot implement provisions dating back 14 or 15 centuries … Carrying out the regulations and traditions of a specific society at a specific date can only spoil them,” Erdoğan said on March 8. But one day later, on March 9, the president said that it was not “reform that was sought” in Islam, but rather he had tried to underline the importance of “adapting” religious practices to current historical and social conditions.
Both Erdoğan’s and Erbaş’s comments came amid criticisms of specific Islamic preachers, who recently made the headlines about their controversial remarks prompting violence against women.
“We, as the Directorate of Religious Affairs, reject every kind of interpretation and thought that condones violence against women. A woman is a mother and she is the most important creature, someone who stands by a human in every point [in their lives] and helps them. There is not one single source in either our Prophet’s teachings or in Islam that condones violence against women,” he said.