PHILOSOPHY, RELIGION, AND SCIENCE: Progressive Muslims

By Pintak, Lawrence | The Middle East Journal, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

PHILOSOPHY, RELIGION, AND SCIENCE: Progressive Muslims


Pintak, Lawrence, The Middle East Journal


Progressive Muslims, ed. by Omid Safi. Oxford, UK: Oneworld Publications, 2003. xi + 332 pages. Further reading to p. 340. Index to p. 351. $25.95 paper.

Will Islam's "silenced majority"1 reclaim its voice or will the extremists continue to set the agenda? That is the central question in the Muslim world today. Inseparable is the broader issue of the relationship between the Qur'an, Sunna, and Hadith, and modern concepts such as democracy and human rights.

The issue is debated a thousand times a day in tea houses and online chat sessions around the globe, and it is being played out in such gritty political confrontations as those between Saudi Arabia's Liberal Tendency and the Wahhabis, and the liberals and literalists of Indonesia.

The need for an adaptation of Islam to the modern world was at the heart of Mahathir Mohamed's October 2003 speech to the Islamic summit. "Islam is not just for the seventh century A.D. Islam is for all times," he told his fellow Muslim leaders. "And times have changed."2

Mahathir may not have had American singer-song writer Bob Dylan in mind when he chose that phase, but the '60s counter-culture bard was very much on the minds of the authors of Progressive Muslims, a collection of pieces from Muslim intellectuals who are part of a larger international network by the same name, which begins with twin quotations from the Qur'an and singersongwriter Bob Dylan's The Times, They are A-Changiri'.

"We realize the urgency of the changin' times in which we live, and seek to implement the Divine injunction to enact the justice ('adl) and goodness-and-beauty (ihsan) that lie at the heart of the Islamic tradition," the book's editor, Colgate University professor Omid Safi, writes in his introduction.

The debate over how - and whether Islam should be adapted to changing times is as old as the religion itself. It gave birth to the 8th century Mu'tazilite movement and has been reflected in the writings of countless reformers, such as the 19th century Egyptian Qasim Amin, who challenged traditional assumptions of the role of women in Islam and took on conservative clerics who labeled him a heretic. "To these people I will respond: Yes, I have come up with heresy, but the heresy is not against Islam. It is against our tradition and social dealings, which ought to be brought to perfection."

That response is echoed in Progressive Muslims. UCLA law professor Khaled Abou El Fadl, for example, believes that the emergence of "supremist puritanism," together with the arguments of Muslim apologists, have "fossilized" Islam, turning it into "an untouchable, but also entirely ineffective, beauty queen, simply to be admired and showcased as a symbol, but not to be critically engaged in its full nuance and complexity."

The authors, who tackle a range of topics from democracy and economic justice to sexuality, race, and ethnicity, build their case for a modern vision of Islam on a foundation of textual references.

"Shura [consultation] and ijma' [consensus] are two key doctrines that Muslims can use today for the religious development of democratic notions of government and politics as well as human rights," writes Ahmed S. Moussalli of the American University of Beirut, in a passage reflective of the book's constant return to Qur'anic legitimacy.

But even as they take on the "violent zealots," who wield religious texts "like whips to be exploited by a select class of readers," the contributors to Progressive Muslims also lash out at the "increasingly hegemonic Western political, economic, and intellectual structures that perpetuate an unequal distribution of resources around the world. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

PHILOSOPHY, RELIGION, AND SCIENCE: Progressive Muslims
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.