Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Nassef: Critics of PMU are Neo-Salafis

Salaam Alaikum

Ahmed Nassef says that the liberal folks at PMU-NA Debate are neo-Salafis. Instead of answering PMU-NA Debate's concerns (or anyone else's, for that matter), it seems the mud is ready to be slung. Tarek Fateh says that the folks at PMU-NA Debate "desire an Islamic Theocracy as a desirous solution to the world's problems." The name calling and charges against these liberal folks would be so funny if the purpose behind it wasn't so chilling.

Everyone who hasn't been living under a rock since late 2001 knows what it means to call your opponent (or any Muslim) a Selafi or Wahabi. Lump your critics (or all Muslims) in with the likes of Osama and Zarqawi, and it means you don't have to address their complaints and issues. The accusation that one is financially or ideologically aligned with "Selafi / Wahabi terrorists" has been used to harass, detain, arrest, and deport Muslims in North America and Europe. It's also been used as an excuse to launch a wars and offensives in Iraq, Palestine, and Chechnya. Why would anyone then want to sling such a loaded accusation against someone who professes similar political and social beliefs, let alone common religious beliefs?

This seems to be the modus operandi for MWU and PMU. People who dissent or vehemently disagree with content are deleted and / or banned from posting -- after the attack brigade has been let loose to hurl personal and other invectives against the individual. Then, if you're lucky, they'll write an article about you.

So who is it that they want to have dialogue with? If they can't or won't handle criticism and dissent from the very people they say they represent, how long can they possibly lay claim to any patina of legitimacy? And when the group has served it's RAND-like purpose, will they be discarded and disbanded -- like CAMU was?

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Where Do We Go From Here?

As Muslims living in the West, though we deal with the onslaught of racism and prejudice, have a greater advantage than many of our brothers and sisters overseas. That’s not to say that every Muslim country is an awful place to live but that Muslims in Great Britain, Canada, Australia and the United States have the wonderful opportunity to live out our Islam…for the moment. If we are politically involved, with enough influence, we can change domestic and foreign policy. Since these nations separate state from religion, the individual Muslim is responsible for his/her spiritual growth and is not forced to comply with the state’s example of religious or secular piety.

But what are we offering our brothers and sisters oversees, the ones who are living under brutal, fanatical regimes— religious or secular? Whether it is Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Uzbekistan or Sudan, there is not one single country that is applying Islam in any meaningful way. For many, an Islamic state is not taking care of the poor, making sure the leader was elected by the people or ensuring that women have access to education. No, for many it is enforcing draconian laws of dress code and backward, patriarchal traditions rather than embodying the noble example our Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wasalaam) and heeding the words of the Qur'an. Because of this dire situation, the responsibility of bringing true Islam into this world relies on us, Western Muslims, because despite the difficulties, we are more liberated politically and socially. But instead of being a beacon, an example to those whose understanding of Islam is tragically flawed, some of us have decided to embrace the same cultural norms of Western society that is currently brining havoc to the family, global society and the human soul.

The recently formed Progressive Muslim Union, North America, seems to have as one of their main aims the wholesale breakdown of Islam itself. One of the many troubling aspects is that this group wants to redefine Muslim as merely a person who says he/she is one. Forget that a Muslim is a someone who believes La ilaha il Allah, Muhammadur rasul Allah. There is the rejection of all Hadith and ignoring all those annoying verses from the Qur'an that command us to take moral responsibility for ourselves and loved ones.

Instead, Muslims should start dating, fornicating and lose all sense of modesty. They might tell you that that is not their goal but if you read "Sex and the Ummah" at MWU, you will see what I mean. The headquarters website, MWU is a collection of articles— half addressing political issues and other half taking about how we Muslims are so screwed up (except, of course, for them, the "enlightened" ones).

And there is the even scarier aspect of asking people like Nawal al Sadawi (who thinks that the French head scarf ban is justified), Fareed Zakariya (who thinks that the American occupation of Iraq with its 14,000 Iraqi body count is not swift enough in doing its job of bringing Western-style democracy) and the Hasan family (the socially liberal, politically conservative "Muslims for Bush" team that gave kudos to Islamophobe Incarnate Daniel Pipes) to sit on their board. Even though they took back their request, that doesn't mean these people will refuse to contribute financially to their "progressive" cause.

What exactly are they offering the international Muslim umma? Are they creating programs to feed the poor? Are they addressing the problem of women’s spaces in the masjid without running to The New York Times every time things don't go their way? Can they really want to include all Muslims but always remain willing and able to mock those who actually believe in Islam and who do not think it is a good idea eliminate pillars, change the shahada and go against Shari'a? No.

But what they do offer is badly written pornography about Islamic scholars. They will bash CAIR, ICNA, and ISNA because they covet the influence that these groups currently have. They will write vicious articles about Muslims for Time magazine, The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, and others. They will “air out our dirty laundry” at universities, political forums and book signings (yes, this group is all about the book deals) but will never address predominately Muslim audiences or come to a masjid near you. And just like the intolerant extremists who scream "munafiq" to anyone who doesn’t agree with what they believe, MWU.com will just delete and ban your comments. So much for open dialogue.

When are really going to line up behind the Qur'an and Sunnah? When are going to let Allah subhana wa ta'ala be our guide? This movement is no more than an attempt to divide Muslims within the political and social spectrum. What is the point of saying you are Muslim when you don’t pray, fast, believe in God, read and BELIEVE in the Qur'an and follow the Prophet's (sallalahu alayhi wasalaam) example as your guide? "Muslim" is just reduced to a cultural tag with no meaning and it only confuses non-Muslims who stare in awe as to why you would remain a Muslim in the first place.

But I won't say that some of the concerns of the Progressive Muslim movement are not valid. We have to deal with racism and sexism in the umma. We do have problems in the way we run our masajid, from women's prayer sections, masjid management to ego-tripping on masjid boards. But they are wrong if they think that Harvard University or any other secular institution could care less about whether your mosque has a female imam. When the "war or terrorism" is over and Americans are not fed a steady diet of scary Muslims, we will be back to square one with all the same problems as before.

The formation of such a group only means that we are not practicing Islam correctly. If we were, we wouldn’t have tension between immigrant and African-American Muslims because we would be reflecting the wonderful example of the Sahabi (may God bless them all). There would be no sexism because women would have active involvement in the masjid and we would be respected as intelligent individuals following the tradition of Khadijah, Aisha and Fatima (may God bless them as well). We would fight against riba, a blight on the American economy that puts millions of hardworking people into debt. We would have enough riba-free institutions to show others that there are alternatives to an overly aggressive capitalist market. And in a time when millions are dying from AIDS, it is really isn't responsible or progressive for Muslims to start advocating pre-marital sex. Remember how the Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wasalaam) said that if we want to stay out of trouble we should control the mouth and the genitals? And whether you are gay or straight, is it really too much to ask for people to start using self control and personal responsibility?

But irresponsible ranting about bringing a box of beer to an Islamic convention just to prove how "radical" you are? There is nothing radical, progressive, or forward thinking about advocating alcohol consumption because millions of people do it all the time. Or "oooh, I used the F-word on an Islamic website. I am soooo non-conformist." Actually, you are conformist. You are just conforming to someone else’s paradigm, not the Islamic one. Or holding progressive Muslim meet ups where only a few people show up and some of its members are only worried about "hooking up" or going out on a date.

If the progressives or any other Muslim group wants to change the world, we must change ourselves. We must start by looking within and believing that we have much good to offer this world. We can bring social, economic and political justice to the world but like this. Not by working with those who are complicit in the destruction and murder of our brothers and sisters overseas by linking up with neocons and RAND corporation types. Let's offer a living tradition in America that is true to Islam and not to any other standard but its own.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Around the 'Net: Comments on PI

Salaam Alaikum

Haroon on Avari-Nameh:

The Progressive Shahadah is a true act of bearing witness – to the reflection in the mirror. There is no God but me, and I am His Messenger. This “progressive Islam” – again, it advertises itself as bereft of meaningful and long-term spiritual potential – offends me, primarily because the Irshad Manji types don't even try. Consider, rather, Nietzsche. A man who rejected revelation, but was cognizant, and moreover, honest, about the ramifications of that rejection. There have been in Western civilization numerous thinkers of apparently bottomless depths, men of vision, courage and intellectual prowess, who may have rejected their inherited faith, doubted the viability of faith or scorned established religion, but in their agonies they conveyed the worth and potential of the human spirit. Their pains and their discomforts were realized in projects of inestimable excellence, to be appreciated from now and for centuries onward. It seems, however, that Muslims cannot even doubt Islam without doing so in the most mediocre and childish fashion. Give me a cry of Tolkien, who weeps for Beren and Luthien, and gives us hope with Earendil, informing us that there is something beyond, but he does not know what it is, and cannot. Do not give me the trembling fury of an author who concludes by confirming that which she set out to disprove.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Neocons and Progressive Muslims : Allies in The War Against Islam

No doubt the title will draw condemnation and revulsion from certain quarters. Aren't neo-cons and proggies polar opposites? Upon closer inspection of their respective ideologies, the answer is a resounding no. Neo-cons and Progressive Muslim share many similarities, not the least of which is to "reform" Islam to their tastes.

Neo-cons are mostly Jewish "former liberals" turned empire-worshipping hawks. They tend to be right wing academics today, openly supporting Israeli terrorism and the use of American power to do Israel's dirty work when possible. Few have any combat experience or any desire to engage in it. They came to prominence post 9-11 calling for a war with the Islamic world under the pretext of fighting their definition of terrorism. Neo-cons have been at the forefront of calling for "reforming" Islam through a campaign of disinformation and destruction. They are very open about their aims and what kind of Muslims is acceptable to them, which brings us to....

Progressive Muslims, not suprisingly have also come to prominence post 9-11 with calls to "take back Islam." Sarah Eltantawy, "communications director" of the PMU and the now defunct MPAC cites 9-11 as a great opportunity for their cause. The favored target is itself Muslims, specifically practising traditional Muslims who believe in the Quran and Sunnah are generally cast as Wahabists, extremists, and "The Astagfirullah Brigade," among other convinient epithets. Scholars, Fiqh, Madrassahs, beards, hijabs, adab, and piety are also the focus and target of ridicule.

Proggies generally tend to be Westernized liberals who rarely practise Islam, and see it as a cultural phenomenon. Few reverts are to be found amongst them. They have no working knowledge of Islamic history and feel that living the good life in the West has given them the right to redefine the deen as a Western friendly set of poorly defined concepts which can be applied at will to include homosexuality, pornography and even such rich fatcats as those of "Muslims For Bush" fame. They define a Muslim as someone who says he/she is a Muslim, not one who declares and accepts the Islamic declaration of faith, the belief in Allah, His Prophets and His books.

Abid Ullah Jan has labelled the proggies as "neo-mods," who share an agenda with the neo-cons. He has written extensively about them, for which he was attacked on MWU. Apparently free speech is applicable to only those who support your agenda, not question it.

It shouldn't come as a shock that Western state media, including neo-con-friendly papers, have embraced and endorsed the PMs. They've clearly spelled out that these are the "sort" of Muslims they can work with in their aims to not only "reform" Islam, but to undermine the vast majority of the Ummah who do not share their twisted values and objectives.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

"Muslim Reformists Threaten Faith" -- SMH Opinion

Salaam 'Alaikum

Amir Butler of the Australian Muslim Public Affairs Council has an editorial in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald. Let's hope this is all the beginning of more and more people speaking up and looking to change our Ummah within the boundaries of Iman and Shari'ah.
The social stagnation, political violence and overall instability that characterise contemporary Islamic societies owe more to ignorance or a misguided interpretation of religion than to Islam itself. The question is how do we resolve this problem: throw the baby out with the bathwater, or restore social and political structures that history has shown to be successful? The root cause of their problems is not simply a failure to reconcile Islam with homosexuality or reproductive rights, nor are they adhering too closely to Islamic teachings. Rather, a dispassionate analysis dictates that Muslims need to practise and understand more of their faith; not march a spiritual death march to secular humanism and moral relativism.

For some Western non-Muslims, the message of Islam's "reformists" holds attraction on a number of levels: it reinforces the cultural hubris that Western values are the panacea for every ill; it offers a simplistic answer to a very complex problem; and it represents a message delivered by people who are palatable to the secular West, even if they hold little credibility in the Islamic circles they claim to influence.

Irshad Manji is a textbook example of such a phenomenon: as a lesbian activist she espouses a lifestyle that Muslims, like many Christians and Jews, disagree with, holds no formal qualification in Islam yet purports to lecture Muslims on how they can "reform" while only ever addressing non-Muslim audiences.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Ramadan Rubbish

“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn self-restrait” Surah al Baqara, Verse 183

A few days ago, Muslims around the world marked the end of the holy and blessed month of Ramadan. This was my first Ramadan. I am convert to Islam from Catholicism. Though I practiced the act of fasting for Ramadan last year, becoming a Muslim makes it an obligatory act as it is one of the five pillars of Islam. Now that the month is over, I must say that I am happy that God has given Muslims the month of Ramadan. There was no other time during the year that I became so aware of what I do.

Those without any spiritual understanding only see the sacrifice of food and drink. There is a saying of the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) that he who gives up food and drink but doesn’t give up harmful deeds, starves himself for nothing. Ramadan is more than just giving up food and drink. But you wouldn’t know that if any practicing Muslim had the displeasure of heading over to Christian Science Monitor to glance at their so-called Ramadan Journal. It is a journal written by a Muslim woman who apparently is too cool to fast. She doesn’t ask why Muslims fast, despite the Qur’anic verse above. Of course, CSM is quite happy to give her a platform to discuss her problems with Islam. In fact, they are well known for their articles advocating the aims of the Progressive Muslim Movement.

So why should CSM have a devout Muslim write about his/her Ramadan experiences if they support a group of iconoclasts who believe that being a Muslim is not submitting to the will of God and accepting his beloved servant Muhammad (pbuh) as His messenger? According to the PMs, being a Muslim is simply saying that you are one. It has nothing to do with praying, fasting, preserving societal and sexual modesty but has more to do with eating hummus, having a “Muslim” name and not observing the tenets of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Why would you want your readers to read about how Muslims are more generous to the poor, more loving to their families and more earnest in their desires to please God when you can post the musing of a disgruntled “Muslim” who gets nothing out of Ramadan but hunger, and that if she decides to fast that day.

I would have loved to have had my own Ramadan journal at CSM (or any other publication) and so would many other Muslims who would like to share with others the joys of the blessed month. Why do I thank God for Ramadan? I am happy because it reminds of my blessings and my duties. I realize just how merciful God is when I know that I am breaking my fast at sunset but there are others who have no idea when their next meal is coming. So, I open up my heart and my earnings to whom God commanded me to take care of—the poor and the suffering. I am careful to avoid sin, that I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings and that I am more loving to my family and friends. I read as much of the blessed Qur’an as I can and let the melodious recitation fill my heart with praise. You can’t know the sweetness of Ramadan until you practice it for the simple pleasure of pleasing Allah subhana wa ta’ala. Why is that so hard for CSM to understand that?

Ramadan has ended with Eid al Fitr and I already long for the purification that takes place during that month. I wish they could request me and others who love Ramadan to express our feelings. Instead, they have decided to present their readership with two alternatives—the radical, hate-filled heretical terrorists and the “secular Muslim” who mocks her faith, culture and traditions. I will send this little essay to the editor but I am posting it online so that if and when he/she decides to publish my thoughts, he/she won’t “creatively edit” my words like he/she had already done to a friend of mine who expressed her dismay at the Ramadan Journal. CSM, unfortunately, has proven that it is not interested in the mainstream voices of Islam and would rather promote the same tired clichés of the renegade hijacker and the disaffected skeptic. But I, and millions more, are sad that Ramadan is gone but are ever hopeful to observe it again and to reap the blessings of it.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Progressive Commentary on the Progressive Muslim Union

Salaam 'Alaikum

Alhamdulillah! People within the Progressive Muslim movement are questioning the "Progressive Muslim Union, North America" (PMUNA), their motives, and some of their statements -- including the most troubling assertion that an individual only needs to "feel" Muslim in order to be Muslim. At the moment, there are two blogs:

Progressive Muslims Union of North America Debate

and

A Comment on PMUNA

Muslim Women Marrying non Muslim Men

Salaam 'Alaikum

Lower on the Progressive Agenda than getting rid of the Kalima Shahada and the hijab is a move to encourage, or make halal (permissible) the marriage of Muslim women to non-Muslim (Christian or Jewish, usually) men, rendered so by a gross distortion of the Qur'anic text on the matter, and changing the status of Ahli Kitab from mushrikeen and kafireen to mu'mineen. The impermissible nature of such a marriage is something there has always been unanimous consensus on within the Ummah. It is indicative of our confused times that there are now Muslimeen who are led to believe it is permissible. Here, Living Tradition addresses the issue from a Classical, Traditional viewpoint, with references provided.
______________________________________________

Doctor `Abd al-Karim Zaydan discusses the issue of female Muslims marrying non-Muslims in his Al-Mufassal fi Ahkam al-Mar'ati wa Bayt al-Muslim fi al-Shari`at al-Islamiyyah. The discussion is at the beginning of volume 7, pages 6 through 11 (paragraphs 6179 through 6192). Instead of giving a complete translation of the section, in sha Allah I will give summary of each paragraph, including the sources cited.

6179. Do not marry [your daughters] to idolators [mushirkin] until they believe in Islam

``Do not marry [your daughters] to idolaters until they believer in Islam. A believering slave is better than a [free] idolater, though the latter please you. These call you to the Fire, but Allah calls you, by His will, to the Garden and to forgiveness. He makes plain His revelations to mankind, that perhaps they will think'' (Qur'an, 2:221)

6180. The verse indicates the impermissibility of a female Muslim marrying a non-Muslim

The verse indicates the impermissibility of a female Muslim marrying a non-Muslim. The Umma has reached consensus that it is not permissible for a non-Muslim to have sex with a female Muslim under any circumstances. The exegetes and legists are in consensus concerning this matter.

[Sources cited: Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 3.72. Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 1.258. Tafsir al-Razi, 6.64. Tafsir al-Manar, 2.350-51. Imam al-Shafi`, Al-Umm, 5.7. Ibn Qudama, Al-Mughni, 6.634.]

6181. The impermissibility is fixed, whatever the non-Islamic religion may be

The impermissibility of marrying a female Muslim to a non-Muslim is an impermissibility that is fixed [thabit] and incontrovertible [qat`i], whatever the non-Islamic religion may be (i.e., whether the husband is from Ahl al-Kitab, an idol worshiper, a Majus, or not affiliated with a particular religion).

[Source: Tafsir al-Razi, 6.64.]

6182. What the legists have said concerning the impermissibility of marrying a female Muslim to a non-Muslim

1. Imam al-Shafi`i

[Source: Imam al-Shafi`i, Al-Umm, 5.7.]

2. Hanafis

[Sources: Al-Kasani, Bada`i al-Sana`i, 2.271. Al-Fatawa al Hindiya, 1.282.]

3-4. Hanbalis

[Sources: Ibn Qudama, Al-Mughni, 6.634. Al-Buhuti, Kashshaf al-Qina`, 3.48 Al-Buhuti, Sharh Muntaha al-Iradat, 3.63.]

5. Zahiris

[Source: Ibn Hazam, Al-Muhalla, 9.449.]

7. Malikis

[Source: Ibn Juzay, Qawanin al-Ahkam al-Shar`iya, p219.]

6183. How verse 2:221 indicates the impermissibility of marrying a
female Muslim to a member of Ahl al-Kitab


Question: The verse specifically mentions `idolators' [mushrikin] but not `kitabi'. How can this verse be used to indicated the impermissibility of marrying a female Muslim to a member of Ahl al-Kitab?

Answer: The verse encompasses marrying a female Muslim to a member of Ahl al-Kitab, so it is impermissible because of the following evidence:

6184. The non-believers [kufar] of Ahl al-Kitab fall under what is meant by `mushrikin'. This is what mos scholars have said. It is the preferred opinion, as Imam al-Razi has said, mentioning much evidence for it.

6185. The [same] scholars who said that the phrase `idolators' [mushrikin] does not include non-believers [kufar] when it is used plainly do not disagree that the phrase `idolators' [mushrikin] in this verse includes Ahl al-Kitab.

[Source: Tafsir Al-Razi, 6.64.]

6186. The Hanbalis say that it is not permissible for a female Muslim to marry a disbeliever [kafir] under any circumstance. Their evidence for this includes verse 2:221 and ``If you find them believers, do not return them to the disbelievers [kufar]; they are not lawful to the disbelievers, nor are the disbelievers lawful to them'' (Qur'an, 60:10). The phrase `disbelievers' [kufar] includes the People of the Book [Ahl al-Kitab] because they are disbelievers and because the Qur'an applied the name `those who disbelieve' [alladhina kafaru] to them: ``Those who disbelieve among the People of the Book and the polytheists [mushrikin] will not desist until a clear proof comes to them'' (Qur'an, 98:1). Hence, the People of the Book [Ahl al-Kitab] are disbelievers [kufar]---this is incontrovertible based upon this clear verse. And a female Muslim is not permissible for a non-Muslim and a non-Muslim is not permisible for a female Muslim because of 60:10. So, it is the result from this is that it is not permissible for a female Muslim to marry a non-Muslim, according to the decisive text [nass] of the Qur'an.

6187. Allah says: ``He it is Who created you, so that some of you are disbelievers and some of your believers'' (Qur'an, 64:2). This verse divides humans into two categories: disbeliever [kafir] and believer [mu'min]. Everyone who adheres to something other than Islam and does not believe in the prophet of Islam (Muhammad) (Allah bless him and give him peace) enters into the category `disbeliever' [kafir]. Jews and Christians do not adhere to Islam and do not believe in the prophet of Islam (Muhammad) (Allah bless him and give him peace), therefore it is incontrovertible that they are disbelievers [kufar]. A female Muslim is not permissible for a disbeliever [kafir]---this is incontrovertible and certain [yaqinan]---so a female Muslim is not permissible to a member of the People of the Book---this, too, is incontrovertible and certain.

6188. The ratio legis [`illa] for the impermissibility of a female Muslim marrying an idolator [mushrik] is because idolators call to the Fire,
just as has come in the Qur'an: ``These call you to the Fire, but Allah calls you, by His will, to the Garden and to forgiveness. He makes plain His revelations to mankind, that perhaps they will think,'' (Qur'an, 2:221). This ratio legis is present in People of the Book, so the ruling applies to them.

[Sources: Al-Kasani, Al-Bada`i, 2.271-72.]

6189. The Legislation has severed disbelievers [kufar] having guardianship [wilaya] over Muslims. Allah Most High says: ``Allah will not give the
disbelievers [kafirin] any way [sabil] [of success] against the believers'' (Qur'an, 4:141). If it was permissible for a member of the People of the Book to marry a female Muslim, it would give them a way [sabil] against the believers, which is unlawful and non-permissible.

[Source: Al-Kasani, Al-Bada`i, 2.271.]

6190. The wisdom of the impermissibility of a female Muslim marrying a non-Muslim

One of the wisdoms [hikm, hikma] of the impermissibility of a female Muslim marrying a non-Muslim is fear that will fall into disbelief because of her husband's influence.

[Source: Al-Kasani, Al-Bada`i, 2:271.]

6191. A female Muslim marrying an apostate is invalid and unlawful

[Sources: Ibn Qudama, Al-Mughni, 8:130. Al-Sarakhsi, Al-Mabsut, 5.48. Al-Hidaya wa Fath al-Qadir, 2.505. Sharh al-Azhar, 2.209.]

6192. A female Muslim marrying a Communist is invalid and unlawful

[Source: Dr Nu`man `Abd al-Razzaq al-Samara'i, Ahkam al-Murtad fi al-Shari`at al-Islamiyyah, p 269.]

Sunday, November 07, 2004

What Progressive Islam is

A few days ago, and just for a lark, I took a test on Beliefnet (not a site that I particularly recommend). The test was designed to tell me 'what kind of a Muslim' I was. To my astonishment, the result indicated that I would be considered a Progressive Muslim, while all the while I was hoping to be labelled a traditional Muslim. But then, as I got thinking, I realized that my views were in conformity with the traditional principles of Islam, a truly progressive religion. My beliefs were inspired by the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings on him) whose entire life was dedicated to challenging entrenched ideas that were anathema to the dignity of Man. Now what could be more progressive than that?

It also became clear to me that the term "Progressive Islam" had been hijacked by a group of self serving individuals who wished to reduce Islam to a pale imitation of its true self. A 'sanitized'version of the Deen that they deparately hope will meet with the approval of Western society. A declaration that Islam needs to adapt to the times and that a laissez faire,'anything goes'policy is needed to attract new adherents and keep the old ones.

This, Dear Reader, is not "Progressive" Islam but a dangerous deviance from the Fundamentals of our Deen. It is an ideology that seeks to wage war against the most basic principes of Islam. An attempt to fool the gullible and the disinterested among us by stating that anyone can interpret our religion without even a rudimentary knowledge of the Quran, the Sunnah, and the principles of Fiqh. Personal opinions are allowed to take precedence over years of jurisprudence and heretical ideas advanced, all in the name of free speech. There are no limits imposed, nor any boundaries uncrossed, and any attempt to counter them with evidence from the Quran and the Sunnah is dismissed as the work of curmudgeonly cranks.

So what is "Progressive" Islam? Is it merely an utopian ideal that died in 7th century Arabia? Or is it a living dynamic that holds the key to an Islamic revival? In my opinion, it is a commitment that we will live our lives according to the Quran and the Sunnah; a desire to emulate the Best of all Men (peace and blessings on him), a constant quest for excellence in matters spiritual and temporal. And flawed as we are, we will continue to fall and to make mistakes, but we will pick ourselves up and continue on the journey of submission. We do not give up stating that Islam is too difficult to be followed nor do we claim that it needs to be pared to less than the essentials to allow for easier adherence.

I believe that a Progressive Muslim is one who, among other things:

1. strictly adheres to the Quran and the Sunnah

2. has deep respect for the Companions,the Early generations and the Great Imams of Jurisprudence.

3. believes that Islam is complete and that this is the only Religion perfected by Allah Subhanna wa ta'ala. He who follows another religion will surely be a loser for this is what Allah tells us.

4. acknowledges that every individual has the right to follow his own beliefs but at the same time denies that all religions are the same or that all paths lead to God. Truth can never be confused with Falsehood.

5. understands that this fast changing world may require us to make fresh interpretations from time to time, but who at the same time relies on our Ulema to provide guidance. It is naive, even dangerous, to assume that any Muslim can be a Mujtahid. Every field has its experts and so does Islam.

6. Accepts that the Decisions of Allah and his Messenger (peace and blessings on him)are final and are not open to dispute. This includes the conviction that any attempt to change the haram to the halal, a belief that man made laws are preferable or better than Divine Commandments, or that the Quran and the Sunnah do not offer the best of guidance are all manifestations of Kufr.

7. finally, one who in times of joy and happiness, in grief and despondency, in youth or old age is inspired by this principle:"Aamantu billahi wa Rusullihi" (I believe in Allah and his Messenger)

May Allah Subhan Wa Ta'ala always grant us the hidaya to distinguish between right and wrong, Ameen.