What is Liberal Islam?

My article for The Friday Times Blog "What is Liberal Islam?"

It's an introductory article, I would love to answer questions if there is any confusion, clarify concepts, expand, and depending on the responses, perhaps even follow it up with another article.


Awais Aftab said…
For the purpose of unity, I will be posting my responses to various questions that I have been asked on twitter, facebook, email etc regarding this article on this comment feed.

@DontFearRaza asked on twitter:

its not really a 'tradition' of modernity if modernity is only about a 100 or so years old is it. not in the traditional sense. also, what exactly makes these particular interpretations liberal/modern? excep those that use modernist methodology. what distinguishes them frm say the theology developed by Khomeini, modern, a new interpretation yet illiberal in many respects

What distinguishes Liberal Islam is not its methodology (which is very diverse) but rather the end product: the endorsement of Liberal values. Charles Kurzman had identified six liberal values for his analysis of liberal islam: opposition to theocracy, support for democracy, guarantees of the rights of women and non-Muslims in Islamic societies, defense of freedom of thought, and belief in the potential for human progress. I also borrowed these for the purpose of this article, but my own list would be more than this.

For me, modernity began with Enlightenment.
Awais Aftab said…
@nlikeb on twitter

"There's nothing as liberal/conservative Islam. It's either we're Muslims/not.."

Will write more on this, but the simple question to ask is: HOW do we determine what the "true Islam" is and WHO determines that. I can guarantee that you cannot come up with an answer to this which will not involve a multiplicity of interpretation.
Anonymous said…
I would hope you don't see Daniel Pipes as an astute "analyst" or his musings as worthwhile. Further on, his question is nonsensical.
stumblingmystic said…
This was a great article. Took me down memory lane, since I explored most of these strands of liberal Islam myself at some point -- before rejecting all of them as not being liberal enough for me. ;-) (But then that's just me with my sadly sky-high standards. ;-) )

More seriously, I think you've covered a good range of liberal Islamic positions. I'm quite pleased you mentioned Mahmoud Mohamed Taha. His position is the one I align myself with the most, and it seems historically accurate. I would say Taha was far more daring than people like Fazlur Rahman, and he paid the price for it with his life.

Historically Sufis were very much part of the orthodoxy; Imam Ghazali's life's work was to try to reconcile mystical experience with the orthodoxy of his time. So I think you're very right to say that people who try to boil Islam down to some essence and call themselves Sufis are quite mistaken.
Learn Quran said…
Liberal Islam is you leave people on a trust that they will be united and never loose hope on Islam, Quran and ALLAH they will practice upon what Quran teaches them, Learn from life of Mohammad.