Tafsirr Works in the Republican Times

The religious discussion during the last period of the Ottoman Empire revolved around a re-interpretation of sharia and the Islamic Law according to the needs of the current times. Issues such as the translation of the Qur'an into Turkish and worship in the native language were prioritized in the early phase of the Republic. These issues were in fact conceived as a first step to the creation of the ideology of a nation state along with a national religion. As a part of this vision, the first Turkish translations of the Qur'an were published in 1924. These works, however, were subjected to heavy criticism with reference to their religious and scholarly qualities. On the other hand, the political and social conjuncture of the period also led to the production of the most important Turkish exegesis of the Qur'an: Elmalılı Muhammed Hamdi Yazır's Hak Dini Kur'an Dili. It is important to note that Yazır stood firm against the project of nationalizing religion and vernacularizing the language of worship. This work received an overall well-earned respect and appreciation and is still being used as a standard reference work of tafsir by all religious groups without any censorship. Despite the publication of about thirty works of exegesis serving different interests and aims ever since the 1930s, none other has surpassed the quality of Yazır.


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