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Modernist Reform Movements Within Islam

Published: 22/12/2011 07:14:00 PM GMT
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Progressive Muslims represent a modernist reform movement within Islam. It is important to understand that progressive Muslims do not seek to break apart from Islam into a different sect, but to reform mainstream Islam in a way that allows to better reconcile some of the controversial aspects of Islam. Progressive Muslims believe in the fundamental aspects of being a Muslims (i.e, the Five Pillars and the Six Fundamental Beliefs of Islam.) Progressive Muslims do not consider that a modern reform is incompatible with the fundamental beliefs of every Muslim. Although heavily criticized by fundamentalist Islamists, to the point of being persecuted or even killed for their beliefs, progressive Muslims represent one of Islam's best hope for reconciling with the Western world and regaining its status as a beacon of enlightenment, reason, and tolerance for humanity.

Modernist reform movements within Islam are usually concerned with two aspects of Islam. The first of these aspects is reinterpreting Islamic law. That is, to examine how the fundamental beliefs of Islam apply to the modern world. The second aspect of modernist Islamic reform movements is focused in reevaluating the importance of Hadith and of Sunnah in the practice of Islam. Many modernist Muslim scholars go as far as to reject Hadith in Islamic law, basing their philosophy entirely on the contents and teachings of the Qur'an. Modernist reform movements within Islam are also concerned with what many consider superficiality in literal, unyielding interpretation of the Qur'an. Progressive Muslims are often more concerned with understanding the original intent and spirit of the Qur'an's message. In this regard, progressive Muslims have certain elements in common with Sufi Muslims and Islamic mysticism.

Among some of the ideas that modernist reform movements within Islam hold include a complete reevaluation of the importance of Hadith. Qur'an Alone Muslims reject Hadith completely, considering it contrary to the universal message of the Qur'an, and specific to the prophet Muhammad's time in history and culture. Other modernist Islamic reformers only follow Hadith that are considered authentic by all schools of Islamic thought. Modern reform movements within Islam are also characterized by fully treating women as equals in religious rites and prayer, and by an openness to aspects of modern customs and dress. However, most progressive Muslims still make an individual choice to dress in a modest manner, as this is explicitly mentioned in the Qur'an. Progressive Muslims seek to promote an ideal of personal responsibility, in particular in the ethical aspects of Islam. According to the teachings of the Qur'an, progressive Muslims stress the importance of an individual choice in matters of right and wrong. The modernist reform movement within Islam is also particularly concerned with reevaluating passages in the Qur'an concerning punishment, Jihad, and gender issues. Progressive Muslims feel that an interpretation of these passages must be tempered by the teachings in the Qur'an about peace, non-violence, and forgiveness.

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