You propose returning to the Koran and no longer referring to the Islamic traditions.

Azmayesh: The clergy pretend that you cannot comprehend the Koran without studying the revayat, the sayings of the Prophet. But they are immersed in the revayat and totally forget the verses of the Koran. In the religious seminaries, the Koran is simply a sacred scripture – it is not used at all.

And you would argue that the Koran can be understood by itself?

Azmayesh: Of course. The Koran is God′s teachings for humankind and it is a book to be read like other books. This idea that it cannot be understood in and of itself blocks the reader. It is the result of brain-washing by clerics who don′t want us to think. The Koran is open to everybody.

But if you don′t know anything about the Koran, can you really distinguish its true message?

Azmayesh: Present research is enabling us to break down a lot of dogmas and obstacles erected by scholars like Muhammad al-Ghazali, who created an ideology under the name of Islam when he was engaged by the Seljuk king. He issued a fatwa that forbade people to think and ordered believers to follow the clergy and the clergy to follow the revayat.

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