Men wearing earrings

Men wearing earrings

The head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), Professor Mehmet Görmez, said this during an on-the-job training session for religious officials: “Our young people are saying, ‘Nobody should have prejudices against us because of our lifestyles; they should not sneer when they see my earring, when they see my goatee and my hair tied at the back. They should not judge me.’ I have told you before; do not be get caught up with young people’s earrings or their tattoos. I will continue to say so. Don’t focus on the style; go for the essence and spirit, go to the hearts.”

However, over two years ago, one of the fatwas of the Diyanet read: “Islamic scholars have evaluated that men wearing women’s accessories, such as earrings, were revolting, meaning they are almost forbidden by religion,” (Jan. 15, 2015).

How would one go about interpreting this now? 

It is not up to me to deliver an opinion on religious topics, but in terms of history and sociology, this fact is important: The Islamic scholars referred to in the fatwa are the great scholars in history. They made this interpretation at such a time in history when the differences between men and women were very important.  
In “our times” though, when the concepts of the equality of the genders and individual freedom are advanced, Professor Görmez speaks differently. 

The need for a renaissance in religious thought is frequently mentioned; here is an example of this. 

Professor Görmez is focusing on a field where God has given permission; it is related to the concept of “freedom.”

“If you narrow the fields that God has granted permission, those that were left up to humans themselves, their customs, their conscience, then you would make religion unlivable… Especially when you talk to young friends, never attempt to make religion difficult. Never interfere with their earrings, tattoos, hair, beards, clothes and boots. Rather, address their souls, their hearts.” 

In a most valuable article by Ms. Cihan Aktaş titled, “Black fatigue in Iran,” I read that one of the great Shiite scholars, Abdul-Karim Mousavi Ardebili, warned 17 years ago not to make religion difficult, saying, “Can we expect an 18-year-old young person to live like an 80-year-old scribe?”

The essence of the issue is how religious culture approaches the demands for freedom stemming from modern life. In our country, the Islamists of the Second Constitutionalist Period (1908-1920) were building bridges of high intellectual value between Islam and modern law/modern sciences.  

Today, it has been downgraded to politics only. 

The issue is more important in the legal field. 

The Diyanet published the new edition of Ottoman Greek citizen Sava Pasha’s two-volume book “İslam Hukuku Nazariyatı” (Theoretical Islam Law) two months ago. Sava Pasha served Sultan Abdul Hamid II as foreign minister for some time; he made attempts to lift the capitulations. This book is a very valuable one written with a Western method on Islamic law. 

Sava Pasha was also the justice minister, a legal and Islamic legal scholar; he was the one who convinced even the conservatives to abolish the Caliphate by proving in parliament with Islamic jurisprudence that the Caliphate was not a religious and faith-based institution but a historic and a political one. 

The jurists of the Second Constitutionalist era were, for instance, Masurizade and Seyyid Bey, who were scholars at the “Darülfünun” (university) that opened the door to modern law through case law in Islamic law.   

Political Islamists in our times cannot find the time to consider these issues due to their fights over political power.