Towards a More Progressive Muslim Community

22 Mar

Part One:


Islam is not the only revelation given to humanity and we shall not disparage others. Though we may discern faults in the practices and philosophies of others, often it is only our misunderstanding of different systems that confronts us. Each nation, people and individual has the right to strive for The Good– and God knows best. As Muslims we can strive to perceive the heart of each tradition and speak to the good in each practitioner, regardless of faith or philosophy. As we are reminded in the Quran, God has created us diverse to know each other and not to judge each other.

While we believe in reason and free, critical thinking as a God given right and responsibility, we Progressive Muslims also urge our community to research and openly share Islamic legal and social findings to inform our thinking and discussion. Too much of our rich heritage is unknown. At the same time as progressive Muslims we cannot accept all interpretations as equal in wisdom and therefore reject the austerities, family law traditions and iconoclasms of tribal and desert cultures as inappropriate for our place and time. We urge all Muslims to choose compassionate readings of Sharia law and refrain from stoning and other harsh punishments. It is far better to educate and improve others by example and direct guidance than to kill them.

To serve the whole human being, Islam must be taught and understood as a practice of spiritual liberation and not simply a tool of social order. Social Justice must be dear to us, along with the humility to know that full justice and full truth is never known on earth but remains in God’s hands. As God’s servants we must strive to implement what is beautiful, truthful and life affirming, not only for our immediate families or social groups but for all creation. The current imbalance in our relationship with nature must be foremost in our thoughts as we work and plan for the future.

Worship is given to us Muslims in specific forms. These forms –specifically the prayers and sequence of movements– are to be honored and felt as deeply as possible. As the language of revelation to the Prophet, Arabic must continue to play an essential role, but so must careful and thoughtful translation into various languages as spoken by the people. Literature and all the arts play an important role in opening the mind into higher awareness and unity and, as long as they do not simply distract or titillate, do not need to be seen as in competition to Holy Scripture. Both in an explicitly Islamic context and in other contexts, culture can serve as a vehicle for spiritual development. To support this trend, progressive Muslims may wish to encourage leadership to more fully develop and incorporate the arts into supplication or supplementary sessions at the masjid.

Muslim artists, Muslim politicians, Muslim citizens cannot be led by base desires or even by self-interest. Our community has far to go in its social development but promoters of utopian schemes too often seek to justify coercive or divisive means by their ends. The temptation to “be right” and to control others should be rejected. Half-conscious egotistical urges and agendas should be understood and put to rest. Let us know ourselves better, even if reality does not conform to our dreams and ideals. Muslims should not hate themselves for their imperfections, nor hate others. The path to purification and greater awareness requires continued prayer and practice.

The purpose of life is like a light that refracts into a colorful spectrum according to our human type and spiritual need. In this context a one-size fits all conformity cannot serve human development and obedience alone may not open the doors to a relationship with divine powers, signs, laws and energies.

We believe that to be supportive of the growth of human potential that our masajid can and should develop and support open and non-hierarchical discussions, encouraging self-questioning and reflection, along with meditative practices that open heart and mind to new places beyond mind and mere imagination. We Muslims need to listen more deeply to each other and to the world. Listening supports the intelligence of the emotional self. Many of the practices of the Sufis are to be recommended as essential support in this journey of service, and love.

And yes, God knows best…


One Response to “Towards a More Progressive Muslim Community”

  1. Ann Carroll March 28, 2013 at 12:21 am #

    Thanks for the new post of your thoughtful comments on the Progressive Muslim Community. I hope you’ll find a lot of readers who agree. The accompanying picture of the flower along the iron fence is so nice and simple and serene. M.

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