Progressive Islam is defined. This article is meant for both Muslims and non-Muslims. For instance, you might have seen Progressive Muslims in the news and wondered what Progressive Islam is. As such, this definition has a short version and a longer version. Let’s start with the short version.
Progressive Islam is an inclusive Islamic interpretation that envisions a community for all. Islam has been a progressive faith since the beginning. Prophet Muhammad reformed many areas of society for the better. These areas included religious freedom, racial equality, education, and women’s rights. For example, the Prophet chose a recently freed Black slave to call people to prayer.
Why “progressive”? Well, we should define the word first. Progressive as a noun, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is someone who is an “advocate of social reform.”
Now, what about Progressive Muslims?
Progressive Muslims, therefore, recognizes a community that celebrates diversity. We understand that our Muslim communities are composed of Muslims who are spiritually Muslim, religiously Muslim, or culturally Muslim.
For example, a spiritual person who may not be religious might consider himself or herself to be Muslim. Whether or not that person has a cultural background in the Muslim World is not essential.
Likewise, a person whose cultural context is in the Muslim World may not spiritually or religiously link to Islam. Yet, at the same time may rightfully identify as Muslim.
It is true Islam is a faith and has various religious rules and regulations. Muslims, on the other hand, are individuals. They exist in large spiritual, religious, and cultural environments.
Therefore, their experiences, their histories, and their understanding of Islam are diverse. As such, progressive Muslims don’t care if someone is Sunni or Shia or even Sufi; they care whether or not that person is progressive.
“Do you understand the issues of our time?” is the type of question that might come up.
What are some of the issues of our time?
At MECCA Institute we focus on Women’s Rights, LGBT Rights, and Youth Rights.
As such, our article focuses on those.
Progressive Islam and Women’s Rights
The rights of women have come along way in some parts of the world, while not in other regions.
Progressive Muslims recognize the importance of fighting for gender equality.
So what do we mean by women’s rights?
Women’s rights are the freedoms, liberties, and opportunities women should have in society.
As such, women’s rights focus on equality for women. Equality secures the removal of gender discrimination from laws, institutions, and religiously inspired or cultural behavioral patterns.
Women’s Rights are focused on women’s issues, families, and children, as well.
Our work is focused on making sure women are being treated fairly. For example, if a Muslim woman wants to divorce her husband. Or let’s say if she wants to marry outside the faith? Learn more about our work in Women’s Rights.
Progressive Islam and LGBT Rights
For far too long, the LGBT Muslim community has experienced intolerance, ridicule, abuse, and even physical harm.
As such, at MECCA Institute, we are working to make sure that Muslims understand LGBT issues.
LGBT rights are the freedoms, liberties, and opportunities LGBT people around the world should have.
For instance, these rights are guaranteed in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. These rights protect LGBT people from many things.
For example, inequality, abuse, and violence based upon who they love, how they are perceived, or how they self-identify.
LGBT rights offer equal protection through the separation and curtailment of religious or cultural authority to enforce ultra-legal beliefs. These beliefs disregard secular laws and governmental oversight.
LGBT rights include the full social acceptance of intimate relationships between consenting adults to marry without force or coercion. Learn more about our work with the LGBT community.
Progressive Islam and Youth Rights
In patriarchal cultures, the youth is silenced and are expected to sit in the back and listen to their elders.
We don’t accept that.
Youth rights are the right to life, survival, and development, including mental, emotional, cognitive, social and cultural development.
As such, we understand that the importance of progress relies heavily on valuing the voices of our youth.
The youth inherently represent such improvement for future generations.
Therefore, the youth are vital because they keep us in check and make sure we are paying attention to the current issues, and less on what was before. Learn more about our work with the Youth.
Imam Daayiee Abdullah is an American man who converted to Islam in China in the 1980s. He has lived in Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. The Imam has appeared on major media networks worldwide, on behalf of LGBT Muslims. Imam Daayiee is currently the Executive Director of MECCA Institute, a progressive Islamic institute with a think tank and a school.