Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Islamic Discourse in the West: Political Islam & Liberal Muslim Movements

Liberal, Progressive or Reformist Muslim?

Over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, in accordance with their increasingly modern societies and outlooks, liberal Muslims have tended to reinterpret many aspects of the application of their religion in their life in an attempt to reconnect with the original message. This is particularly true of Muslims who now find themselves living in non-Muslim countries
Such people may describe themselves variously as liberal, progressive or reformist (in application but not in the tenets of the faith); but rather than implying a specific agenda, these terms tend to incorporate a broad spectrum of views which contest conservative, traditional interpretations of Islam in many different ways.
Although there is no full consensus amongst liberal Muslims on their views, they tend to agree on some or all of the following beliefs:



This means that liberal Muslims often drop traditional interpretations of the Qur'an which they find too culturally conservative and relative, preferring instead readings which are more adaptable to modern society. Most liberal Muslims reject derivation of Islamic laws from literal readings of single Qur'anic verses. They generally claim that a holistic view which takes into account the 7th century Arabian cultural context allows deeper insight into the manner in which the commands of God (Allah) are carried out.


Human rights

§                     Most liberal Muslims believe that Islam promotes the notion of absolute equality of all humanity, and that it is one of its central concepts. Therefore, a breach of human rights has become a source of great concern to most liberal Muslims Though Human Rights is perceived to be of the utmost concern of all devoted adherents to the Islamic faith, liberal Muslims differ with their culturally conservative counterparts in that they believe that all humanity is represented under the umbrella of Human Rights.
§                     Muslim liberals often reject traditional interpretations of Islamic law, which allows Ma malakat aymanukum and Slavery. They see that Slavery opposed Islamic principles which they believe to be based on justice and equality and verses relating to slavery or "Ma malakat aymanukum" now can not be applied due to the fact that the world has changed



The place of women in Islam, traditional gender roles in Islam and Islamic feminism are likewise major issues. For this reason, liberal Muslims are often critical of traditional Islamic law interpretations which allow polygyny for men but not polyandry for women, as well as the traditional Islamic law of inheritance under which daughters receive less than sons. Traditional Muslims believe this is balanced by the right of a wife to her husband's money, whereas the husband does not have a right to his wife's money.
It is also accepted by most liberal Muslims that a woman may lead the state, and that women should not be segregated from men in society or in mosques. Some traditional Muslims also accept a woman as a leader of state so long as it does not conflict with her obligation to family
However, other Muslim feminists embrace hijab, pointing out its tendency to de-sexualize women and therefore assist them in being treated less as an object and more as a person. Some conservative muslims follows the wearing of the hijab but did not prevent the woman from showing their adornment. Thus, one of the liberal view for the verse was intended for that time. And a general meaning of the verse for modesty can also be found from this.



Some liberal Muslims favor the idea of modern secular democracy with separation of church and state, and thus oppose Islam as a political movement.
The existence or applicability of Islamic law is questioned by many liberals. Their argument often involves variants of the Mu'tazili theory that the Qur'an is created by God for the particular circumstances of the early Muslim community, and reason must be used to apply it to new contexts.


Tolerance and non-violence

Tolerance is another key tenet of Liberal Muslims, who are generally open to interfaith dialogue and conflict resolution with such communities as Jews, Christians, Hindus, and the numerous factions within Islam.
Liberal Muslims are more likely to reflect the idea of jihad in terms of the widely accepted "internal spiritual struggle" rather than an "armed struggle." The ideals of non-violence are prevalent in Liberal Muslim ideology and backed by Qu'ranic text; "permission to fight is given only to those who have been oppressed... who have been driven from their homes for saying,'God is our Lord'" (22:39)


Reliance on secular scholarship

Liberal Muslims tend to be skeptical about the validity of Islamization of knowledge (including Islamic economics, Islamic science, Islamic history and Islamic philosophy) as separate from mainstream fields of inquiry. This is usually due to the often secular outlook of Muslim liberals, which makes them more disposed to trust mainstream secular scholarship. They may also regard the propagation of these fields as merely a propaganda move by Muslim conservatives.[16]
Liberals are also more likely to accept scientific ideas such as evolution and the results of secular history and archaeology.


SECULARISM, ISLAM, & DEMOCRACY: Muslims in Europe and the West
Date: Thursday, April 8, 2010
Time: 7:00pm - 8:30pm
Location: The Great Hall, Cooper Union
: 7 East 7th Street

City/Town: New York, NY

Is there a fundamental clash of values between secularism and Islam and between freedom of expression and freedom of religion? In what ways are Muslims living in the West contributing to their democratic societies? Can Islam exist as a Western religion? Is it a Western religion already?

The AAUP, ACLU, PEN American Center, and Slate welcome Professor Tariq Ramadan in his first U.S. appearance since he was barred from the country in 2004. Professor Ramadan will participate in a panel discussion, which will provide Americans with the first opportunity in five years to hear his ideas relating to secularism, Islam and democracy.

February 16, 2010
The controversial Tariq Ramadan’s latest book promotes a “Western” version of Islam. Is he the “Muslim Martin Luther”? Islam’s European Reformation?

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