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Liberal and Moderate Islamic Schools of Thought

Published: 22/12/2011 07:25:00 PM GMT
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There is a liberal and moderate current of thought within modern Islam. This movement is often known as progressive Islam, or liberal Islam. There are two main schools of liberal thinkers within Islam, those that are concerned with reforming Islamic law, and the more radical group that considers that the meaning of the Qur'an is divinely inspired, but that the prophet Muhammad worded it in a way that was suited to his people and his period of history. This second current of liberal Muslim thinkers believe that it is important to interpret verses of the Qur'an that conflict with modern beliefs by placing them in their proper context, or even ignoring them altogether. This current of liberal Muslims goes as far as to reject the Hadith, the sayings and example of the prophet Muhammad, as something that is binding to Muslims.

Many liberal and moderate Muslim intellectuals have been persecuted and even killed by traditional, fundamental Islamists and those that support them. There is no question that this kind of practice is contrary to the teachings of forgiveness, peace, and tolerance that the the Qur'an contains. After all, the great majority of God's revelation deals with these virtues, while only isolated passages could be interpreted as condoning this kind of violence against liberal thinkers. Surely those that condone these kinds of atrocities will be judged when the End of Times comes. While progressive Muslims present an idea of Islam that is based on peace, tolerance, forgiveness, and other virtues in the Qur'an, fundamental Islamists, oppressive governments, and radial Muslim heretics have hijacked Islam to better represent the very ideals that it originally sought to fight: a fragmented, barbarous, tribal society with a patriarchal form of government. While in the view of the much of the Western world Islam has become synonymous with a particularly unyielding and fundamentalist brand of Islam that is associated with the Middle East, it is important to remember that it is only a minority of the more than one billion Muslims that resides in this region of the world.

Many progressive Muslims argue that their proposed reforms are a return to the original intent of the Ummah (the Muslim community) and to the true intent of the Qur'an. That is, a spirit of religious pluralism, tolerance, and acceptance of others. Progressive Muslims consider that strict, unyielding interpretation of Islamic law is not universal and completely contrary to the supposed universality of the Qur'an. Muslims believe that God sent messengers and revelations to people of all historical periods and nations. Muslims also believe that the Qur'an was revealed to the prophet Muhammad as the definitive, universal, holy scripture. Progressive Muslims believe that interpreting the Qur'an and Islamic law under principles that are certainly based on Middle Eastern tribal and patriarchal practices rather than on universal values goes contrary to the true purpose and meaning of the Qur'an.

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