Liberalism and progressivism within Islam

Liberalism and progressivism within Islam involve professed Muslims who have created a considerable body of liberal thought about Islamic understanding and practice.[1][2] Their work is sometimes characterized as "progressive Islam" (Arabic: الإسلام التقدمي al-Islām at-taqaddumī). Some scholars, such as Omid Safi, differentiate between "Progressive Muslims" (post-colonial, anti-imperialist, and critical of modernity) and "Liberal advocates of Islam" (an older movement embracing modernity).[3]

Liberal Islam originally emerged out of the Islamic revivalist movement of the 18th-19th centuries.[1] Liberal and progressive ideas within Islam are considered controversial by some traditional Muslims, who criticize liberal Muslims on the grounds of being too Western and/or rationalistic.[1][4]

The methodologies of liberal and progressive Islam rest on the re-interpretation of traditional Islamic sacred scriptures (the Quran) and other texts (the Hadith), a process called ijtihad (see below).[1][5][page needed] This can vary from the slight to the most liberal, where only the meaning of the Quran is considered to be a revelation, with its expression in words seen as the work of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in his particular time and context.

Liberal Muslims see themselves as returning to the principles of the early Ummah and as promoting the ethical and pluralistic intent of the Quran.[1][6] They distance themselves from some traditional and less liberal interpretations of Islamic law which they regard as culturally based and without universal applicability.[citation needed] The reform movement uses monotheism (tawhid) "as an organizing principle for human society and the basis of religious knowledge, history, metaphysics, aesthetics, and ethics, as well as social, economic and world order".[7]

Liberal Muslims affirm the promotion of progressive values such as democracy, gender equality, human rights, LGBT rights, women's rights, religious pluralism, interfaith marriage,[8][9] freedom of expression, freedom of thought, and freedom of religion;[1] opposition to theocracy and total rejection of Islamism and Islamic fundamentalism;[1] and a modern view of Islamic theology, ethics, sharia, culture, tradition, and other ritualistic practices in Islam.[1] Liberal Islam emphasizes the re-interpretation of the Islamic scriptures in order to preserve their relevance in the 21st century.[1][10]


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