Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Reforming Islam: Progressive Voices from the Arab Muslim World

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Reforming Islam: Progressive Voices from the Arab Muslim World

Article excerpt

Reforming Islam: Progressive Voices from the Arab Muslim World. Edited by Stephen Ulph and Patrick Sookhdeo. McLean, Va.: Ilmuslih Publications, 2014. 513 pp. $99.99.

Reforming Islam offers a cuttingedge compilation of viewpoints of progressive Arabic-speaking Muslim intellectuals derived from the website Almuslih.org. Its writers use historicocritical methods pioneered by Christians and Jews to examine their own scriptures, thereby defying traditional Islamic notions of a divine, infallible Qu'ranic text. The contributors also reject the non-negotiable status of the Qur'an, Hadith, and Sunna. Indeed, Reforming Islam's authors obliquely challenge Western critics who invoke the very same notion to refute any possibility of Muslim reform.

One contributor, Said Nachid, provides compelling historical evidence to refute notions of immutable textual authenticity and notes that the Qur'an has been distorted by both Sunnis and Shiites. Other authors examine the historical context of modern-day Islamism, identifying the fall of the Ottoman Empire and simultaneous European expansion as playing a significant role in fomenting the reactionary movement of pan-Islamism, which was intended to "shore up the ramparts [of the Muslim world] against economic and ideological penetration. …

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