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] 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).[2]

Liberal ideas are considered controversial by some traditional Muslims, who criticize liberal ideas on the grounds of being too Western or rationalistic.[3]

The methodologies of liberal or progressive Islam rest on the interpretation of traditional Islamic scripture (the Quran) and other texts (such as the Hadith), a process called ijtihad (see below).[4][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 prophet Muhammad in his particular time and context.

Liberal Muslims see themselves as returning to the principles of the early Ummah ethical and pluralistic intent of the Quran.[5] 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".[6]

Liberal Islam values reinterpretations of the Islamic scriptures in order to preserve their relevance in the 21st century.[7]