The term “progressive” refers to the persistent struggle towards universal justice, in which not a single community’s dignity, prosperity and righteousness is given preference at the expense of another’s. Progressive Islam actively holds every Muslim responsible for a fair distribution of their God-given natural resources and abilities that enable them to live in peace and harmony with the whole of humanity. Progressive Islam promotes the use of full range of Islamic beliefs and practices.
Justice lies at the heart of Islamic ideology. The Holy Quran, time and again, talks about addressing the needs of the less fortunate members of the society: the poor and the downtrodden, the orphans and the hungry. According to the sayings of the Holy Prophet, “He is not a believer, whose neighbors go to bed hungry”. Therefore, Islam promotes the idea of good and well being for the whole society, which is an essential element for any system to be progressive.
Islam,unlike any other religion, is the first one to promote women empowerment. The Muslimwoman was empowered, way back 1400 years ago. She was given a role, rights and responsibilities that most women do not enjoy, even today, in the West. A Muslim woman enjoys human rights- granting them equality to men, she enjoys civil rights-that gives her freedom of choice and expression, she enjoys social and political rights-to seek knowledge and voice her concern, just like her male counterparts and she also enjoys economic rights-allowing her to support her family in need. For any nation to progress, it’s very essential that there is no discrimination between men and women. Islam empowers women in its true sense and gives tremendous respect to their honor and dignity and sets no limits to her moral progress, which eventually pays off in building a strong and sound society.
Another important aspect of a progressive world is that of education, and not enough emphasis can be laid on its importance as voiced by Islam. The revelation of the Holy Quran began with the word “Iqra” meaning “read”. Without education, no one can be guided in this world. The Prophet Muhammad has said, “Acquiring knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim”.The Islamic education system is one of the best education systems, which grooms a person both intellectually and morally. Proper education opens up the minds of the people and gives them the ability to contribute towards world progress.
The scientific contributions of Islam are also countless.Unlike other religions,where scientists were executed if their scientific theories contradicted with the church and other religious institutions, therebysuppressing the very ideas scientific knowledge and social awareness, just for the sake of a set of normative procedures in the name of God and Institutions representing Him, Islam allows for scientific growth and freedom. Islam has played a huge role in the field of science and technology and continues to be the only religion that has never brought any impediments in the way of development and advancement. Muslims have made many important discoveries and technological inventions. It would take hours together to talk about the Islamic contributions to humanity, but this subject is not well known to many people, especially to the people of west. To summarize a few, let’s start with the claim made by Bertrand Russell, a famous British philosopher who rightly said that, “the empirical formula was introduced by the Arabs”. The scientific method, which was developed by the West, was actually invented and initiated by Muslims. IbnSina, popularly known as Avicenna, in the West, known for his best medical works and his contemporary, Al-Biruni were regarded as the greatest scientists of all times. Al-Biruni gave the idea of continental shift long before the West started to show their interest in it. Muslims have made major contributions in the field of astronomy as well. Islam was noted for its astronomical observatories that created the ground for the research of modern times. The list of scientific achievements within Islam is endless.
In today’s world, Islam has started to make a mark in the world economy system as well. The ideas which were not given much importance earlier are now shifting the whole world’s economy, in the form of Islamic banking, Islamic funds etc. The world is accepting the fact that the global economic recession that marked the downfall of the whole world economy could have been avoided, if the Islamic system of economy were prevalent.
To sum it all up, considering all the above dimensions, Islam can only be considered as progressive, in every possible sense.