Challenges for Progressive Muslims

Omid Safi in Sightings (at the University of Chicago Divinity School website):

Omidsafi180It is a commonplace today to begin a discourse on Islam with the theme of “crisis.” It is not my intention here to add to that unrelenting discursive assault. Instead, I would like to describe the salient features of Muslims who self-identify as progressive, and comment upon the challenges they face in struggling to realize the full potential of the progressive movement.

Who are progressive Muslims? Progressive Islam both continues and radically departs from the 150-year-old tradition of liberal Islam, embodied by ‘Abduh, Afghani, Shari’ati, and others. Unlike most earlier modernists, progressive Muslims are consistently critical of colonialism, both in its nineteenth-century and in its current manifestations. Progressive Muslims develop a critical and nonapologetic “multiple critique” vis-à-vis both Islam and modernity.

And again distinct from their liberal forefathers, another feature of the progressive Muslim movement has been the equal level of female participation and leadership, as well as the move to highlight women’s rights as part of a broader engagement with human rights.

Progressives measure their success not in developing new and beatific theologies but rather by the on-the-ground transformation that they can produce in Muslim and non-Muslim societies. This movement is characterized by emphasis on a number of themes: striving to realize a just and pluralistic society through critically engaging Islam, a relentless pursuit of social justice, an emphasis on gender equality as a foundation of human rights, a vision of religious and ethnic pluralism, and a methodology of nonviolent resistance.

More here.  [Thanks to Giles Anderson.]