Liberalism and progressivism in the Muslim world

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For modernist reform movements in Islam, see Islamic Modernism.

There are diferents examples of muslims and Islamic movements in the Muslim world who identify with, espouse or have compatible liberal (religious liberalism) and/or progressive values, ideas, views and support its causes. The terms Muslim world and Islamic world commonly refer to the Islamic community (Ummah), consisting of all those who adhere to the religion of Islam,[1] or to societies where Islam is practiced.[2][3] In a modern geopolitical sense, these terms refer to countries where Islam is widespread, although there are no agreed criteria for inclusion.[4][3]


Main article: Ijtihad

Ijtihad (Arabic: اجتهاد‎‎ ijtihād, lit. effort, physical or mental, expended in a particular activity)[5] is an Islamic legal term referring to independent reasoning[6] or the thorough exertion of a jurist's mental faculty in finding a solution to a legal question.[5] It is contrasted with taqlid (imitation, conformity to legal precedent).[6][7] According to classical Sunni theory, ijtihad requires expertise in the Arabic language, theology, revealed texts, and principles of jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh),[6] and is not employed where authentic and authoritative texts (Qur'an and hadith) are considered unambiguous with regard to the question, or where there is an existing scholarly consensus (ijma).[5] Ijtihad is considered to be a religious duty for those qualified to perform it.[6] An Islamic scholar who is qualified to perform ijtihad is called a mujtahid.[5]

Starting from the 18th century, some Muslim reformers began calling for abandonment of taqlid and emphasis on ijtihad, which they saw as a return to Islamic origins.[5] Public debates in the Muslim world surrounding ijtihad continue to the present day.[5] The advocacy of ijtihad has been particularly associated with Islamic modernists and purist Salafi thinkers. Among contemporary Muslims in the West there have emerged new visions of ijtihad which emphasize substantive moral values over traditional juridical methodology.[5]

Human rights[edit]

Moderate Islamic political thought contends that the nurturing of the Muslim identity and the propagation of values such as democracy and human rights are not mutually exclusive, but rather should be promoted together.[8]


Main article: Islamic feminism

A combination of Islam and feminism has been advocated as "a feminist discourse and practice articulated within an Islamic paradigm" by Margot Badran in 2002.[9] Islamic feminists ground their arguments in Islam and its teachings,[10] seek the full equality of women and men in the personal and public sphere, and can include non-Muslims in the discourse and debate. Islamic feminism is defined by Islamic scholars as being more radical than secular feminism,[11] and as being anchored within the discourse of Islam with the Quran as its central text.[12]

During recent times, the concept of Islamic feminism has grown further with Islamic groups looking to garner support from many aspects of society. In addition, educated Muslim women are striving to articulate their role in society.[13]


Main article: Islam and secularism

The definition and application of secularism, especially the place of religion in society, varies among Muslim countries as it does among western countries.[14] As the concept of secularism varies among secularists in the Muslim world, reactions of Muslim intellectuals to the pressure of secularization also varies. On the one hand, secularism is condemned by some Muslim intellectuals who do not feel that religious influence should be removed from the public sphere.[15] On the other hand, secularism is claimed by others to be compatible with Islam. For example, the quest for secularism has inspired some Muslim scholars who argue that secular government is the best way to observe sharia; "enforcing [sharia] through coercive power of the state negates its religious nature, because Muslims would be observing the law of the state and not freely performing their religious obligation as Muslims" says Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, a professor of law at Emory University and author of Islam and the secular state : negotiating the future of Shariʻa.[16] Moreover, some scholars argue that secular states have existed in the Muslim world since the Middle Ages.[17]

Tolerance and non-violence[edit]

Reliance on secular scholarship[edit]

Liberal Muslims[who?] tend to be skeptical about the validity of Islamization of knowledge[citation needed] (including Islamic economics, Islamic science, Islamic history and Islamic philosophy) as separate from mainstream fields of inquiry. This is usually due to the often secular outlook of Muslim liberals, which makes them more disposed to trust mainstream secular scholarship. They may also regard the propagation of these fields as merely a propaganda move by Muslim conservatives.[18]

Movements and people[edit]


Reform Muslims, like their more orthodox peers, believe in the basic tenets of Islam, such as the Six Elements of Belief and the Five Pillars and they consider their views to be fully compatible with Islam. Their main differences with more conservative Islamic opinion are twofold. The first lies in differences of interpretation of how to apply the core Islamic values to modern life,[19] the second a more reactionary dialectic which criticizes traditional narratives or even rejects them, thus denying any obligation to follow them while also allowing greater freedom in interpreting Quran regardless of the hadith.[20]

Muslim intellectuals who have focused on religious reform include Muhammad Ali, Sayyid al-Qimni, Irshad Manji, Nasr Abu Zayd, Khalil Abdel-Karim, Abdolkarim Soroush, Mohammed Arkoun, Mohammed Shahrour, Ahmed Subhy Mansour, Edip Yuksel, Gamal al-Banna, Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri,[21] Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, Ahmed Al-Gubbanchi, Mahmoud Mohammed Taha, and Faraj Foda. Taha was hanged in 1985 under the sharia regime of Jaafar al-Nimeiri[22] and Foda was assassinated in 1992 by al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya.[23]

Islamic Protestantism[edit]

Islamic Protestantism has been used to describe movements advocating for reformation in Islam, on a parallel to the Protestant Reformation.[24]

Parallels between Islam and Protestantism have long been made. Some thinkers of the Enlightenment "tended to make Mohammed almost a good Protestant and in any event a perceptive opponent of the Curia Romana".[25]

The Iranian author Hashem Aghajari argued for Islamic Protestantism in 2002, as a criticism of the theocratic Islamic state, describing it as: "A rational, scientific, humanistic Islam. It is a thoughtful and intellectual Islam, an open-minded Islam."[26] However, he uses the term Protestantism to mean "a progressive religion rather than a traditional religion that tramples people," which has been said to bear little resemblance to Protestantism in its original form.[27]

Gülen movement[edit]

The Hizmet movement led by Turkish Islamic scholar and preacher Fethullah Gülen in Turkey, Central Asia, and in other parts of the world is active in education with private schools and universities in over 180 countries as well as many American charter schools operated by followers. It has initiated forums for interfaith dialogue.[28][29] The Cemaat movement's structure has been described as a flexible organizational network.[30] Movement schools and businesses organize locally and link themselves into informal networks.[31] Estimates of the number of schools and educational institutions vary widely; there appeared to be about 300 Gülen movement schools in Turkey prior to the attempted coup d'état in July 2016 but it is unclear how many (if any) of these institutions will survive the subsequent purge and persecution initiated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government following the defeat of the coup. The claimed total of over 1,000 schools worldwide.[32][33] Gülen teaches a Hanafi version of Islam, deriving from Sunni Muslim scholar Said Nursî's teachings. Gülen has stated that he believes in science, interfaith dialogue among the People of the Book, and multi-party democracy.[34] He has initiated such dialogue with the Vatican[35] and some Jewish organizations.[36] Gülen is actively involved in the societal debate concerning the future of the Turkish state, and Islam in the modern world. He has been described in the English-language media as an imam "who promotes a tolerant Islam which emphasises altruism, hard work and education" and as "one of the world's most important Muslim figures."[34][37]

Islamic Modernism[edit]

Main article: Islamic Modernism

Islamic Modernism, also sometimes referred to as Modernist Salafism,[38][39][40][41][42] is a movement that has been described as "the first Muslim ideological response"[a] attempting to reconcile Islamic faith with modern Western values such as nationalism, democracy, civil rights, rationality, equality, and progress.[44] It featured a "critical reexamination of the classical conceptions and methods of jurisprudence" and a new approach to Islamic theology and Quranic exegesis (Tafsir).[43]

It was the first of several Islamic movements – including secularism, Islamism and Salafism – that emerged in the middle of the 19th century in reaction to the rapid changes of the time, especially the perceived onslaught of Western Civilization and colonialism on the Muslim world.[44] Founders include Muhammad Abduh, a Sheikh of Al-Azhar University for a brief period before his death in 1905, Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani, and Muhammad Rashid Rida (d. 1935).

The early Islamic Modernists (al-Afghani and Muhammad Abdu) used the term "salafiyya"[45] to refer to their attempt at renovation of Islamic thought,[46] and this "salafiyya movement" is often known in the West as "Islamic modernism," although it is very different from what is currently called the Salafi movement, which generally signifies "ideologies such as wahhabism".[b] Since its inception, Modernism has suffered from co-option of its original reformism by both secularist rulers and by "the official ulama" whose "task it is to legitimise" rulers' actions in religious terms.[47]

Modernism differs from secularism in that it insists on the importance of religious faith in public life, and from Salafism or Islamism in that it embraces contemporary European institutions, social processes, and values.[44]


Main article: Quranism

Quranists believe Muhammad himself was a Quranist and the founder of Quranism, and that his followers distorted the faith and split into schisms and factions such as Sunni, Shia, and Khawarij. Quranists reject the hadith and follow the Quran only. The extent to which Quranists reject the authenticity of the Sunnah varies,[48] but the more established groups have thoroughly criticised the authenticity of the hadith and refused it for many reasons, the most prevalent being the Quranist claim that hadith is not mentioned in the Quran as a source of Islamic theology and practice, was not recorded in written form until more than two centuries after the death of the Muhammed, and contain perceived internal errors and contradictions.[48][49]


Main article: Tolu-e-Islam

The movement was initiated by Muhammad Iqbal, and later spearheaded by Ghulam Ahmed Pervez. Ghulam Ahmed Pervez did not reject all hadiths; however, he only accepted hadiths which "are in accordance with the Quran or do not stain the character of the Prophet or his companions".[50] The organization publishes and distributes books, pamphlets, and recordings of Pervez's teachings.[50]

Tolu-e-Islam does not belong to any political party, nor does it belong to any religious group or sect. It is strictly against sectarianism, because such acts of creating sects/divisions in Islam is equal in magnitude to "Shirk" i.e. rejection of Monotheism.[51]

LGBT movements within Islam[edit]

El-Farouk Khaki, founding member of Salaam group and the Toronto Unity Mosque / el-Tawhid Juma Circle
Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, founder of the group 'Homosexual Muslims of France'

Salaam is the first gay Muslim group in Canada and second in the world. Salaam was found in 1993 by El-Farouk Khaki, who organized the Salaam/Al-Fateha International Conference in 2003.[52]

In May 2009, The Toronto Unity Mosque / el-Tawhid Juma Circle was founded by Laury Silvers, a University of Toronto religious studies scholar, alongside Muslim gay-rights activists El-Farouk Khaki and Troy Jackson. Unity Mosque/ETJC is a gender-equal, LGBT+ affirming, mosque.[53][54][55][56]

In November 2012, a prayer room was set up in Paris by gay Islamic scholar and founder of the group 'Homosexual Muslims of France' Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed. It was described by the press as the first gay-friendly mosque in Europe. The reaction from the rest of the Muslim community in France has been mixed, the opening has been condemned by the Grand Mosque of Paris.[57]

In January 2013 was launched the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity (MASGD).[58] The organization was formed by members of the Queer Muslim Working Group, with the support of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Several initial MASGD members previously had been involved with the Al-Fatiha Foundation, including Faisal Alam and Imam Daayiee Abdullah.[59]

Nur Wahrsage has been an advocate for LGBTI Muslims and founded Marhaba, a support group for queer Muslims in Melbourne, Australia. In May 2016, Wahrsage revealed that he is homosexual in an interview on SBS2’s The Feed, being the first openly gay Imam in Australia.[60]

Africa and Asia[edit]


Meena Keshwar Kamal (1956 - 1987), founder of RAWA

The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) is a women's organization based in Quetta, Pakistan, that promotes women's rights and secular democracy. The organization aims to involve women of Afghanistan in both political and social activities aimed at acquiring human rights for women and continuing the struggle against the government of Afghanistan based on democratic and secular, not fundamentalist principles, in which women can participate fully.[61] It was founded in 1977 by Meena Keshwar Kamal when she was a student at Kabul University,[62] she founded the organization to promote equality and education for women and continues to "give voice to the deprived and silenced women of Afghanistan". In 1979 she campaigned against DRA, and organized meetings in schools to mobilize support against it, and in 1981, she launched a bilingual feminist magazine, Payam-e-Zan (Women's Message).[63][64][65] She also founded Watan Schools to aid refugee children and their mothers, offering both hospitalization and the teaching of practical skills.[65] Kamal was assassinated in Quetta, Pakistan on February 4, 1987 for her political activities. Reports vary as to who the assassins were, but are believed to have been agents of the Afghan Intelligence Service KHAD, the Afghan secret police, or of fundamentalist Mujahideen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.[62][66][67]


The Bahraini protests of 2011 was a series of demonstrations, amounting to a sustained campaign of civil and violent[68][69] resistance in the Persian Gulf country of Bahrain. As part of the revolutionary wave of protests in the Middle East and North Africa following the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia, the Bahraini protests were initially aimed at achieving greater political freedom and equality for the majority Shia population,[70][71] and expanded to a call to end the monarchy of Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa[72] following a deadly night raid on 17 February 2011 against protesters at the Pearl Roundabout in Manama,[73][74] known locally as Bloody Thursday.

The Coalition Youth of 14 Feb Revolution (Arabic: إئتلاف شباب ثورة 14 فبراير‎‎), sometimes called The Coalition (Arabic: الإئتلاف‎‎) is a Bahraini youth group, named after the date of the beginning of Bahrain's uprising, and led by anonymous individuals who organize protests chiefly via new-media sites.[75] The Coalition first appeared on the popular pro-democracy forum Bahrain Online.[75] Their Facebook page started in April 2011 where they have 65,282 likes (as of July 2014).[76] It is the main Facebook page that calls for daily peaceful demonstrations and protests.[77] One of the first sub-groups called February 14 Youth was behind the call for demonstrations on February 14, 2011, named "Day of Rage" and developed later to a nationwide uprising.


Women in Tahrir Square protest the rule of Hosni Mubarak

The Egyptian revolution of 2011, locally known as the January 25 Revolution (Egyptian Arabic: ثورة 25 يناير‎‎; Thawret 25 yanāyir),[78] began on 25 January 2011 and took place across all of Egypt. It consisted of demonstrations, marches, occupations of plazas, riots, non-violent civil resistance, acts of civil disobedience and strikes. Millions of protesters from a range of socio-economic and religious backgrounds demanded the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The revolution included Islamic, liberal, anti-capitalist, nationalist and feminist elements. Violent clashes between security forces and protesters resulted in at least 846 people killed and over 6,000 injured.[79][80] Protesters burned over 90 police stations.[81] The protests took place in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities.

The April 6 Youth Movement (Arabic: حركة شباب 6 أبريل‎‎) is an Egyptian activist group established in Spring 2008 to support the workers in El-Mahalla El-Kubra, an industrial town, who were planning to strike on April 6.[82][83][84][85][86][87]

Activists called on participants to wear black and stay home on the day of the strike. Bloggers and citizen journalists used Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, blogs and other new media tools to report on the strike, alert their networks about police activity, organize legal protection and draw attention to their efforts.[88]

The New York Times has identified the movement as the political Facebook group in Egypt with the most dynamic debates.[89] As of January 2009, it had 70,000 predominantly young and educated members, most of whom had not been politically active before; their core concerns include free speech, nepotism in government and the country's stagnant economy.[89] Their discussion forum on Facebook features intense and heated discussions, and is constantly updated with new postings.

The April 6 movement is using the same raised fist symbol as the Otpor! movement from Serbia, that helped bring down the regime of Slobodan Milošević and whose nonviolent tactics were later used in Ukraine and Georgia. Mohammed Adel, a leader in the April 6 movement, studied at the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies, an organization founded by former Otpor! members. The movement was banned by an Egyptian court on 28 April 2014.[90] The Constitution Party condemned the verdict, arguing that the charges against the movement were "false" and that the court ruling was an example of state institutions undermining and destroying the rule of law.[91] Hamdeen Sabahi's presidential campaign warned of the "return to a state of suppression and banning."[91] Abdul Ghaffar Shukr, vice president of the National Council for Human Rights, has stated that the council is prepared to stand in solidarity with the April 6 Youth Movement, and will aid the movement if it requests assistance.[92] Human Rights Watch condemned the ruling as "a clear violation of citizens’ rights to free association, peaceful assembly, and free expression."[93] The April 6 movement has vowed to defy the ban, as well as attempt to repeal it.[94]

The National Salvation Front[95] (also known as the National Front for Salvation of the Revolution or the National Rescue Front, Arabic: جبهة الإنقاذ الوطني‎‎)[96] is an alliance of Egyptian political parties, mainly secular and ranges from liberals to leftists,[97] formed to defeat Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's 22 November 2012 constitutional declaration.[98]

The front issued three demands to Morsi during the 2012 Egyptian protests. The demands were: that the constitutional declaration be rescinded, that the referendum be called off, and that a new constituent assembly be formed.[99]

Protesters from the Third Square movement: "Neither Morsi nor the military", 31 July 2013

The Third Square (Arabic: الميدان الثالث‎‎) is an Egyptian political movement created by liberal, leftist and moderate Islamist activists who reject both Muslim Brotherhood and military rule following the 2013 Egyptian coup d'état. The movement first appeared when the Egyptian defence minister, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, called for mass demonstrations on 26 July 2013 to grant the military a "mandate" to crack down on "terrorism",[100] which was seen as contradicting the military's pledges to hand over power to civilians after removing Morsi and as an indication for an imminent crackdown against Islamists.[101] The announcement by General Al-Sisi was rejected by a number of political groups that had initially supported the military coup, such as the revolutionary April 6 Youth Movement,[102] the moderate Strong Egypt Party,[103] the Salafi Al-Nour Party[104] and Egyptian human rights groups.[105]

In response, The Third Square, a group of activists who mistrust both the military and the Islamists, called for a separate protest in Sphinx Square in Mohandessin, Cairo.[106] One of the activists described the movement as "a group of young people whose views are not represented either in Tahrir Square or Rabia Al-Adawiya",[107] referring to the military-organised protests in Tahrir Square and the Islamist protests in Rabia Al-Adawiya square in Nasr City.[108] In a leaflet, they declared their opposition to "the defense minister calling for an authorization to kill Egyptians on the pretext of fighting terrorism".[109]

Interviewed on the French television news channel France 24, activist Firas Mokhtar said: "The Third Square is an attempt to bring Egyptians together and put an end to the polarisation of our society". Fellow activist and singer of Egyptian band Eskenderella, Samia Jahin, added: "Maybe there's only a few of us tonight. But soon you might hear of another group like ours in another square."[110]

The movement is supported by intellectuals and artists such as the activist filmmaker Aalam Wassef, who released a music video showing him sitting out the demonstrations on 26 July at home, doing his laundry in front of a banner with the word "Resist".[109]


I am going to give you such a weapon that the police and the army will not be able to stand against it. It is the weapon of the Prophet, but you are not aware of it. That weapon is patience and righteousness. No power on earth can stand against it.[111]Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan

Khān Abdul Ghaffār Khān (6 February 1890 – 20 January 1988) (Pashto: خان عبدالغفار خان‎), nicknamed Bāchā Khān (Pashto: باچا خان, lit. "king of chiefs") or Pāchā Khān (پاچا خان), was a Pashtun independence activist against the rule of the British Raj. He was a political and spiritual leader known for his nonviolent opposition, and a lifelong pacifist and devout Muslim.[112] A close friend of Mohandas Gandhi, Bacha Khan was nicknamed the "Frontier Gandhi" in British India.[113] Bacha Khan founded the Khudai Khidmatgar ("Servants of God") movement in 1929, whose success triggered a harsh crackdown by the British Empire against him and his supporters, and they suffered some of the most severe repression of the Indian independence movement.[114] Khan strongly opposed the All-India Muslim League's demand for the partition of India.[115][116] When the Indian National Congress declared its acceptance of the partition plan without consulting the Khudai Khidmatgar leaders, he felt very sad and told the Congress "you have thrown us to the wolves."[117] After partition, Badshah Khan pledged allegiance to Pakistan and demanded an autonomous "Pashtunistan" administrative unit within the country, but he was frequently arrested by the Pakistani government between 1948 and 1954. In 1956, he was again arrested for his opposition to the One Unit program, under which the government announced to merge the former provinces of West Punjab, Sindh, North-West Frontier Province, Chief Commissioner's Province of Balochistan, and Baluchistan States Union into one single polity of West Pakistan. Badshah Khan also spent much of the 1960s and 1970s either in jail or in exile. Upon his death in 1988 in Peshawar under house arrest, following his will, he was buried at his house in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Tens of thousands of mourners attended his funeral, marching through the Khyber Pass from Peshawar to Jalalabad, although it was marred by two bomb explosions killing 15 people. Despite the heavy fighting at the time, both sides of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the communist army and the mujahideen, declared a ceasefire to allow his burial.[118]

In September 2016, the group Muslim Women’s Quest for Equality petitioned the Supreme Court of India against the practices of talaq-e-bidat (triple talaq), nikah halala and polygyny under the Muslim personal laws illegal and unconstitutional, and also demanded that organisations such as the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) "should be abolished to save the country and Indian Muslims from the clamp of fundamentalists/ activists having the ideology similar to Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and his organisation Jamat-ud-dawa (JuD)."[119][120]


Protesters in Tehran, 16 June 2009

Protests against the 2009 Iranian presidential election results (Persian: اعتراضات علیه نتایج انتخابات ریاست جمهوری سال ۱۳۸۸‎‎) (a disputed victory by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) and in support of opposition candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi occurred in major cities nationwide from 2009 into 2010.[121] The protests were titled as Iranian Green Movement (Persian: جنبش سبز Jonbesh-e Sabz‎‎) by their proponents, reflecting presidential candidate Mousavi's campaign color, and also the Persian Awakening by the western media.[122]

The protests began the night of 12 June 2009, following the announcement that incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won nearly 60 percent despite several reported irregularities. However, all three opposition candidates claimed that the votes were manipulated and the election was rigged, and candidates Mohsen Rezaee and Mousavi lodged official complaints. Mousavi announced that he "won't surrender to this manipulation" before lodging an official appeal against the result to the Guardian Council on 14 June.[122] Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered an investigation into the claims of voting fraud and irregularities as per the request of the Green movement leaders.[123][124][125] Ahmadinejad called the election "completely free" and the outcome "a great victory" for Iran, dismissing the protests as little more than "passions after a soccer match".[126]

Despite the relative peaceful nature of the protests, the police and the paramilitary Basij suppressed them with batons, pepper spray, sticks and, in some cases, firearms; the most widely known shooting victim was Neda Agha-Soltan, whose last moments were uploaded to YouTube and broadcast around the world.[127][128][129] Opposition groups have also reported that thousands more have been arrested and tortured in prisons around the country, with former inmates alleging mass rape of men, women, and children by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in prisons such as Kahrizak and Evin.[130][131] The Iranian government has confirmed the deaths of 36 people during the protests,[132] while unconfirmed reports by supporters of Mousavi allege that there have been 72 deaths (twice as many) in the three months following the disputed election, with a possibly higher number, since relatives of the deceased are forced to sign documents claiming they had died of heart attack or meningitis.[133][134] Iranian authorities have closed universities in Tehran, blocked web sites, blocked cell phone transmissions and text messaging,[135] and banned rallies.[124]

The creation of the Iranian Green Movement was developed during these protests. The events have also been nicknamed the "Twitter Revolution" because of the protesters' reliance on Twitter and other social-networking Internet sites to communicate with each other.[136] Mobile phone services including text messaging had stopped or had become very difficult to use since the day before the election because of this.[137] Iranian Internet users used social media to trade lists of open web proxy servers as a means of getting around the restrictions, but the Iranian authorities monitoring these media gradually blocked these proxies, so that after two weeks very few proxies were still working in Iran.[138] Associated Press labeled the actions as "ominous measures apparently seeking to undercut liberal voices".[123]

The Iranian Green Movement refers to a political movement that arose after the 2009 Iranian presidential election, in which protesters demanded the removal of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from office. Green was initially used as the symbol of Mir Hossein Mousavi's campaign, but after the election it became the symbol of unity and hope for those asking for annulment of what they regarded as a fraudulent election. Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi are recognized as political leaders of the Green Movement.[139] Hossein-Ali Montazeri was also mentioned as spiritual leader of the movement.[140]

The Green Movement protests were a major event in Iran's modern political history and observers claimed that protests were the largest since the Iranian Revolution of 1978-1979.[141][142][143]


Sisters in Islam (SIS) is a Malay civil society organisation committed to promoting the rights of women within the frameworks of Islam and universal human rights. SIS work focuses on challenging laws and policies made in the name of Islam that discriminate against women. As such it tackles issues covered under Malaysia's Islamic family and syariah laws, such as polygamy,[144] child marriage,[145] moral policing,[146] Islamic legal theory and jurisprudence, the hijab and modesty,[147] violence against women and hudud.[148] Their mission is to promote the principles of gender equality, justice, freedom, and dignity of Islam and empower women to be advocates for change.[149] They seek to promote a framework of women's rights in Islam which take into consideration women's experiences and realities; they want to eliminate the injustice and discrimination that women may face by changing mindsets that may hold women to be inferior to men; and they want to increase the public knowledge and reform laws and policies within the framework of justice and equality in Islam.[150] Prominent members are Zainah Anwar,[151] and co-founder Amina Wadud.[152]

SIS has drawn criticism from conservative Muslim state and non-state actors because of its views.[153][154][155][156]

In 2014, the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS) issued a fatwa declaring that Sisters In Islam, as well as any other organisation promoting religious liberalism and pluralism, deviate from the teachings of Islam. According to the edict, publications that are deemed to promote liberal and pluralistic religious thinking are to be declared unlawful and confiscated, while social media is also to be monitored and restricted.[157] As fatwas are legally binding in Malaysia,[158] SIS is challenging it on constitutional grounds.[159]


The 2011–13 Mauritanian protests are a series of protests in Mauritania that started in January 2011, concurrent with the Arab Spring, and continued into 2012. The largely peaceful protest movement has demanded President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz institute political, economic, and legal reforms. Common themes of protest have included slavery, which is officially illegal in Mauritania but is widespread in the country,[160] and other human rights abuses the opposition has accused the government of perpetrating.[161]

The February 25th Movement is a Mauritanian youth group, named after the date of the beginning of Mauritania's protests, and led by anonymous individuals who organise protests chiefly via new-media sites.[162] The group also tries to attract members through more direct means, such as by distruting leaflets and posters.[163][164] The movement has also published a list of 28 grievances, including both political and economic problems.[162] The groups demands include; the removal of the military from Mauritanian politics, the elimination of institutional racism, better rights for women, reformation of the country's education system, an end to the endemic corruption within government, the strengthening of Mauritanian civil society, and revamping Mauritania's foreign policy so that it better represents the interests of its citizens.[163]

Saudi Arabia[edit]

In 2011, the Arab Spring motivated some women, including al-Huwaider and Manal al-Sharif, to organise a more intensive driving campaign, and about seventy cases of women driving were documented from 17 June to late June.

During 2011 and 2012, the protests in Saudi Arabia were part of the Arab Spring that started with the 2011 Tunisian revolution. Protests started with a self-immolation in Samtah[165] and Jeddah street protests in late January 2011.[166][167] Protests against anti-Shia discrimination followed in February and early March in Qatif, Hofuf, al-Awamiyah, and Riyadh.[168][169] A Facebook organiser of a planned 11 March "Day of Rage",[170][171] Faisal Ahmed Abdul-Ahad, was allegedly killed by Saudi security forces on 2 March,[172][173][174] with several hundred people protesting in Qatif, Hofuf and al-Amawiyah on the day itself.[175] Khaled al-Johani demonstrated alone in Riyadh,[175] was interviewed by BBC Arabic Television, was detained in `Ulaysha Prison,[176][177] and became known online as "the only brave man in Saudi Arabia".[176] Many protests over human rights took place in April 2011 in front of government ministry buildings in Riyadh, Ta'if and Tabuk[178][179][180] and in January 2012 in Riyadh.[181]

Anti-government protests demanding release of prisoners held without charge or trial continued in April and May 2011 in Qatif, al-Awamiyah and Hofuf in the Eastern Province,[182][183][184][185][186] and extended to calls for the Peninsula Shield Force to be withdrawn from Bahrain[187][188][189] and for the Eastern Province to have a constitution and a legislature.[190] Four protestors were shot dead by Saudi authorities in late November in Qatif region protests and funerals,[191] two on 12/13[192][193] and 26 January 2012,[194] and two on 9 and 10 February 2012.[195][196][197][198] In the early 2012 demonstrations, protestors chanted slogans against the House of Saud and Minister of Interior, Nayef,[199][200] calling Nayef a "terrorist", "criminal" and "butcher"[201] and throwing an effigy of Nayef at tanks.[201] Police described two of the fatal shootings as responses to unidentified gunmen who had shot first.[197][202] Eastern Province protests intensified after Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was wounded in the leg and arrested by police on 8 July.[203] Four men were killed in a protest immediately following the arrest,[204][205][206] and on 13 July,[207] with several funerals and protests following,[208][209][210] including calls for the downfall of the House of Saud.[211][212] While detained, al-Nimr was tortured and started a hunger strike.[213][214] Protest organisers insisted on the use of nonviolent resistance[215] and called for all Shia and Sunni detainees to be freed.[216] A protestor and a soldier were fatally shot in Qatif during a 3–4 August protest,[217] leading to more protests.[218][219][220]

Protests and sit-ins calling for political prisoners[221] to be released spread beyond the Eastern Province to protests at the Ministry of Interior in Riyadh on 20 March[222] and in Riyadh and Buraidah in December 2011,[191][223][224] and in July and August 2012 in front of the Ministry in Riyadh,[225][226] in Mecca[227] in Ta'if,[228] in Buraidah,[229] and near al-Ha'ir Prison.[230][231][232]

Women organised a Facebook women's suffrage campaign called "Baladi", stating that Saudi Arabian law gives women electoral rights.[233] In April 2011, women in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam tried to register as electors for the 29 September municipal elections despite officials stating that women could not participate.[233][234] In May and June, Manal al-Sharif and other women organised a women's right-to-drive campaign, with the main action to take place on 17 June.[235][236] In late September, Shaima Jastania was sentenced to 10 lashes for driving in Jeddah, shortly after King Abdullah announced women's participation in the 2015 municipal elections and eligibility as Consultative Assembly members; King Abdullah overturned the sentence.[237][238] Al-Sharif and Samar Badawi filed lawsuits against Saudi authorities in the Grievances Board, a non-Sharia court,[239] because of the rejection of their driving licence applications.[240] Women university students protested in King Khalid University (KKU) in Abha in March 2012[241] and were attacked by security forces, leading to one death.[242][243] Other university protests followed in Taibah University in Medina[244] and Tabuk University in March and April.[245][246] KKU students called for the university president to be dismissed. He was replaced on 1 July 2012.[247]

Saudi Arabia is unique in being the only country in the world where women are forbidden to drive motor vehicles.[248] The women to drive movement is a campaign by Saudi Arabian women, who have more rights denied to them by the regime than men,[249] for the right to drive motor vehicles on public roads. Dozens of women drove in Riyadh in 1990 and were arrested and had their passports confiscated.[250] In 2007, Wajeha al-Huwaider and other women petitioned King Abdullah for women's right to drive,[251] and a film of al-Huwaider driving on International Women's Day 2008 attracted international media attention.[250][252][253]

In 2011, the Arab Spring motivated[254][255] some women, including al-Huwaider and Manal al-Sharif, to organise a more intensive driving campaign, and about seventy cases of women driving were documented from 17 June to late June.[256][257][258] In late September, Shaima Jastania was sentenced to ten lashes for driving in Jeddah, although the sentence was later overturned.[237][238]

Two years later, another campaign to defy the ban targeted 26 October 2013 as the date for women to start driving. Three days before, in a "rare and explicit restating of the ban", an Interior Ministry spokesman warned that "women in Saudi are banned from driving and laws will be applied against violators and those who demonstrate support."[259] Interior ministry employees warned leaders of the campaign individually not to drive on 26 October, and in the Saudi capital police road blocks were set up to check for women drivers.[260]


The five-petal jasmine was chosen to be the symbol of the Dignity Strike and became one of the widespread symbols of the Syrian Civil War
The Dignity Strike evolved to become the Dignity Disobedience
Damascus Spring[edit]

The Damascus Spring (Arabic: ربيع دمشق‎‎, Rabīʻ Dimashq) was a period of intense political and social debate in Syria which started after the death of President Hafiz al-Asad in June 2000 and continued to some degree until autumn 2001, when most of the activities associated with it were suppressed by the government. It started with the Statement of 99 and the establishing of the Committees of Civil Society, then the Statement of 1000 was issued carrying the signature of 1000 Syrian intellectuals in 2001. The Statement of 99 was a statement made by 99 Syrian intellectuals on 27 September 2000, during the Damascus Spring that followed Hafez al-Assad's death in June of the same year. The intellectuals called for the state of emergency to be ended, for political prisoners to be pardoned, for deportees and exiles to be allowed to return, for legal protection for free speech and freedom of assembly, and to "free public life from the laws, constraints and various forms of surveillance imposed on it". [261] Prominent signers included Abdulrazak Eid, Anwar al-Bunni, Mamdouh Adwan, Haidar Haidar and Michel Kilo.[261] The Statement of 1000, made in January 2001, was more detailed than the earlier statement, criticising the effective one-party rule of the Ba'ath Party and calling for multiparty democracy, with an independent judiciary and without discrimination against women.[262]

The Damascus Spring was characterised above all by the emergence of numerous muntadayāt (singular muntadā), referred to in English as "salons" or "forums". Groups of like-minded people met in private houses, with news of the occasion spread by word of mouth, and discussed political matters and wider social questions. The phenomenon of the salons spread rapidly in Damascus and to a lesser extent in other cities. Long-standing members of the Syrian opposition were notable in animating the movement, as were a number of intellectuals who resolutely declared themselves apolitical, such as filmmaker Omar Amiralay. Members of the Syrian Communist Party and reform-minded Ba'th Party members also took part in debate. The most famous of the forums were the Riad Seif Forum and the Jamal al-Atassi National Dialogue Forum.[263]

The Riad Seif Forum[264] (also called Forum for National Dialogue[265]) is or was a political forum, or muntadat, founded by "businessman-turned-dissident" Riad Seif, promoting political debate and freedom in Syria. It was considered one of the two most famous such forums of the Damascus Spring during 2000-2001 in Syria.[264]

Following the death of Syrian leader Hafez al-Assad in June 2000, Seif assembled "leading [Syrian] intellectuals and independent voices" to discuss "how to open up Syria's ... political system." The group — which met on Wednesdays evenings, in Seif's living room — "debated human rights, pluralism, press and academic freedoms, and how to build a civil society," and was the first of ten such forums[264] that "marked the onset" of the Damascus Spring.[265] It was later dubbed the Forum for National Dialogue according to journalist Robin Wright.[265] In January 2001, Seif announced his intention to create a new political party to compete with the ruling Ba'th Party.[266] A major seminar/meeting of the Forum was held on 5 September 2001. Several hundred people attended and leaders of the Syrian opposition called for political reform and democratic elections and discussed amending the constitution and issuing a call for a civil disobedience campaign. Following this Seif and the nine other opposition leaders were arrested.[267]

After a major meeting of the Forum for National Dialogue on 5 September 2001 which several hundred people attended, Riad Seif and Ma'mun al-Homsi, another member of parliament, were arrested.[268] According to Human Rights Watch, the two were accused of "attempting to change the constitution by illegal means" and "inciting racial and sectarian strife" and sentenced by the Damascus Criminal Court to five years in jail. The eight other activists — Riad al-Turk, Aref Dalila, Walid al-Bunni, Kamal al-Labwani, Habib Salih, Hasan Sa`dun, Habib `Isa, and Fawwaz Tello — were referred to the Supreme State Security Court which issued prison sentences between two and ten years. Seif was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison and released in January 2006.[264]

Strike for Dignity[edit]

Strike for Dignity (Arabic: إضراب الكرامة‎‎, the Karamah Strike, transliterated: Idrab Al-Karameh) was a nationwide general strike organised by groups in the Syrian Civil War in December 2011 as a nonviolent expression of dissent against the government of Bashar al-Assad during the Syrian civil war. It is significant as one of the very few strikes during the four decades of Ba'ath Party rule in Syria.[269][270][271][272][273]

A nonviolent demonstration of approximately 150 participants emerged in Damascus' Hamidiya Market area on 15 March 2011;[274] then on Friday, 18 March 2011, four Syrian cities (Dara, Banyas, Homs, and Damascus) saw what appear to be much larger protest crowds take to the streets. Three young men protesting in the city of Dara were allegedly shot and killed on 18 March 2011 by government military forces sent to repress the nonviolent demonstrations, triggering more protests in the ensuing days.[269] Grassroots demonstrations, predominantly nonviolent, grew into a nationwide movement by April 2011. These demonstrations in Syria occurred in the context of the wider Middle Eastern protest movement known as the Arab Spring. Protesters' discourse demanded freedom and dignity; an end to martial law (in place since March, 1963); the release of prisoners of conscience; and the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has held the presidency in Syria since 1971; as well as the end to over four decades of Ba'ath Party rule.

The Syrian Nonviolence Movement along with civil resistance groups in Syria such as the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, working together under an umbrella group called Freedom Days Syria, called for a general strike on 11 December 2011 to express dissent against the Syrian government in a nonviolent way.[270][271] The organisers of the strike claimed that the strike would contribute to weakening the government and could lead eventually to its fall.[271] The strike had six different stages which progressed toward widespread, organized civil disobedience. Activities included sit-ins and closure of shops and universities, followed by the shutdown of transportation networks and a general public sector strike.[275]

The Local Coordination Committees of Syria documented more than 600 points that participated in the Strike across Syria. The expatriated opposition body called the Syrian National Council said in a statement that the "Dignity Strike" launched that Sunday was widely observed in 12 provinces across Syria "against all expectations." [276] Syrian human rights lawyer and civil society activist Razan Zaitouneh (Zeitunah) has documented the abuse of human rights in Syria for the Local Coordination Committees of Syria.[277] Actively involved in the Syrian uprising, she went into hiding after being accused by the government of being a foreign agent[278] and her husband was arrested.[279] Razan Zaitouneh is currently missing after being abducted in Douma on December 9, 2013, along with fellow activists Samira Khalil, Wael Hamada, and Nazem Hammadi.[280] Samira Khalil was arrested and detained for four years from 1987-1991 for her opposition to the Al-Assad government in Syria.[281] After her imprisonment in the eighties, Khalil operated a publishing house before shifting her efforts to working with the families of detainees and writing about detention in Syria. Before her abduction, she was working to help women in Douma support themselves by initiating small income generating projects, and had stayed in Douma to establish two women's centres.[282] Khalil and her husband Yassin al-Haj Saleh were the subject of the documentary Baladna Alraheeb (Our Terrible Country), which documented the period in their lives prior to Khalil's 2013 abduction.[283]

Nadi al-Tufula (Club Childhood), a small private elementary school in Damascus founded by women with a history of teaching nonviolence,[284] tried to join the strike. School staff made the decision public by posting notice on the school entrance indicating that the school would be closed in observance of the strike. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced that the strike was being "very widely observed" in southern Syria's Daraa province, Idlib, Homs area and the Damascus countryside.[285]

Coalition of Secular and Democratic Syrians[edit]
Flag of Syria 2011, observed.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Syrian opposition

The Coalition of Secular and Democratic Syrians or Syrian Coalition of Secular and Democratic Forces (Arabic الائتلاف العلماني الديموقراطي السوري) is the nucleus of a Syrian secular and democratic opposition that appeared during the 2011–2012 Syrian uprising. It was created by the union of a dozen Muslim and Christian, Arab and Kurd parties, who called the minorities of Syria to support the fight against the government of Bashar al-Assad.[286][287] The Coalition has also called for military intervention in Syria, under the form of a no-fly zone similar to that of Kosovo, with a safe zone and cities.[288][289] The president of the coalition, who is also a member of the Syrian National Council, is Randa Kassis.[290][291][292][293]

National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change[edit]

The National Coordination Committee for the Forces of Democratic Change (NCC), or National Coordination Body for Democratic Change[294] (NCB) (Arabic: هيئة التنسيق الوطنية لقوى التغيير الديمقراطي ‎‎), is a Syrian bloc formed in 2011 at a congress in Damascus and chaired by Hassan Abdel Azim consisting of 13 left-wing political parties and "independent political and youth activists".[295] It has been defined by Reuters as the internal opposition's main umbrella group.[296] The NCC initially had several Kurdish political parties as members, but all except for the Democratic Union Party left in October 2011 to join the Kurdish National Council.[297] Relations with other Syrian political opposition groups are generally poor. The Syrian Revolution General Commission, the Local Coordination Committees of Syria or the Supreme Council of the Syrian Revolution oppose the NCC calls to dialogue with the Syrian government.[298] In September 2012, the Syrian National Council (SNC) reaffirmed that despite broadening its membership, it would not join with "currents close to [the] NCC".[299] Despite recognizing the Free Syrian Army on 23 September 2012,[300] the FSA has dismissed the NCC as an extension of the government, stating that "this opposition is just the other face of the same coin".[296]

The NCC formally called for the "overthrowing [of] the regime with all its symbols".[301] The Preparatory Committee issued an eight-point statement which called for:

  • Toppling the government.[300]
  • A rejection of sectarianism.[300]
  • "Adopting non-violent resistance as the strategy to accomplish the goals of the revolution".[300]
  • "Extract[ing]" the Syrian Army "from the clutches of the regime".[300]
  • Holding the government accountable for its actions.[300]
  • The protection of civilians and the upholding of international law.[300]
  • Resolving the status of Kurds within a democratic framework.[300]
  • The "undivided" cohesion of the Syrian nation.[300]
National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces[edit]

The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (Arabic: الائتلاف الوطني لقوى الثورة والمعارضة السورية‎‎), commonly named the Syrian National Coalition (Arabic: الائتلاف الوطني السوري‎‎), is a coalition of opposition groups in the Syrian Civil War that was founded in Doha, Qatar, in November 2012. Former imam of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Moaz al-Khatib, considered a moderate, was elected the president of the coalition, and resigned on 21 April 2013.[302] Riad Seif and Suheir Atassi, both prominent democracy activists and the latter a secular human rights advocate, were elected vice presidents. The post of a third vice president will remain vacant for a Kurdish figure to be elected.[303] Mustafa Sabbagh was elected as the coalition's secretary-general.[304] The coalition has a council of 114 seats, though not all of them are filled.[305]

On 31 May 2013, the coalition gave membership to 15 representatives of the Free Syrian Army, allowing direct representation of rebels from Syria in a political group for the first time.[305] On 6 July, the coalition elected new leadership. Ahmad Asi Al-Jarba was elected president and Anas Al-Abdah was elected as secretary general. On 14 September 2013, the National Coalition selected Ahmad Tu'mah as prime minister of an interim government for Syria.[306] On 25 September 2013, some Islamist factions rejected the Syrian National Coalition stating that "All groups formed abroad without having returned to the country do not represent us."[307]

On September 2016, Ahmad Jarba met with the leader of the Movement for a Democratic Society, representing the de facto autonomous administration of the Federation of Northern Syria - Rojava, in order to form an agreement to participate in the governing of northeastern Syria.[308] They issued a joint statement that "the monist powers insisting on one party, one flag and one nation are doomed to fail, and peoples are trying to realize their dreams for a democratic, pluralist and united Syria."[309][310] By extension his forces the al-Nukhbat Brigade also joined the SDF.[311][312][313]

Syria's Tomorrow Movement[edit]

The Syria's Tomorrow Movement (Arabic: تيار الغد السوري) is a Syrian opposition party founded in March 2016 in Cairo by Ahmad Jarba, a Syrian National Council member. The party is backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and cooperates with the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, although it is not part of the coalition.[314][315] They also cooperate with the Syrian Democratic Council and the associated de facto autonomous administration of the Federation of Northern Syria - Rojava.[309] The movement is described as pluralist[316] and liberal democratic[317] and secularist.[317][315] the movement aims to decentralize Syria and implement pluralist democracy. However, it opposes any partition of the state.[316] The party considers Alawites, as with all other ethnic groups in Syria, to be an essential component of the Syrian people and called for greater inclusion of them in the opposition.[314]


United Kingdom[edit]

Sadiq Aman Khan current Mayor of London since 2016.

Sadiq Aman Khan is a Muslim British politician and the current Mayor of London since 2016. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tooting from 2005 to 2016. A member of the Labour Party, he is situated on the party's soft left and has been ideologically characterised as a social democrat and social liberal,[318][319][320] and Khan has self-described as a "proud feminist".[321]

Khan at Pride in London, June 2016

While fasting for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in 2016, Khan declared that he would use the period as an opportunity to help "break down the mystique and suspicion" surrounding Islam in Britain and help to "get out there and build bridges" between communities, organising iftars to be held at synagogues, churches, and mosques.[322][323] He then appeared at a Trafalgar Square celebration of Eid al-Fitr, endorsing religious freedom and lambasting "criminals who do bad things and use the name of Islam to justify what they do".[320] Following the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, Khan attended a vigil in Old Compton Street, Soho, and insisted that he would "will do everything in [his] power to ensure that LGBT Londoners feel safe in every part of our city";[324] later that month he marched in the LGBT Pride London parade.[325] Khan has stated that he received death threats for voting in favour of the same-sex marriage equality bill.[326] There was a fatwa put out against him, in which an Imam declared him to be no longer a Muslim; he had been given police advice on protection.[327]

British Muslims for Secular Democracy[edit]

British Muslims for Secular Democracy is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting secularism in the United Kingdom.[328] It was founded in 2006 by Nasreen Rehman and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.[329] The group believes the diversity of views among British Muslims is not adequately represented to wider British society and that their image is distorted.[330][331] The organization is one of the growing number of feminist and progressive Muslim organizations.[332]


Quilliam is a London-based left-of-center[333] think tank that focuses on counter-extremism, specifically against Islamism, which it argues represents a desire to impose a given interpretation of Islam on society. Founded as The Quilliam Foundation, it lobbies government and public institutions for more nuanced policies regarding Islam and on the need for greater democracy in the Muslim world whilst empowering moderate Muslim voices.

According to one of its co-founders, Maajid Nawaz, "We wish to raise awareness around Islamism";[334] he also said, "I want to demonstrate how the Islamist ideology is incompatible with Islam. Secondly … develop a Western Islam that is at home in Britain and in Europe … reverse radicalisation by taking on their arguments and countering them."[335]

The organisation opposes any Islamist ideology and champions freedom of expression. The critique of Islamist ideology by its founders, Maajid Nawaz, Rashad Zaman Ali and Ed Husain, is based, in part, on their personal experiences.[336]

Progressive British Muslims[edit]

Progressive British Muslims (PBM) was a group of Liberal British Muslims that formed following the London terrorist attacks of July 7, 2005. The organisation was founded and is chaired by Farmida Bi, an expert in Islamic Finance to provide a voice for progressive Muslims who she felt were unrepresented by existing faith organisations. [337]


Democratic Muslims[edit]
Naser Khader, one of the founders of Democratic Muslims

Democratic Muslims (Danish: Demokratiske muslimer) is a political organization in Denmark founded by Naser Khader, Yildiz Akdogan and other Muslims in February 2006 after the escalation of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy. Its goal is a peaceful co-existence of Islam and democracy.[338] Naser Khader left his position as leader in 2007. In 2009 and 2011, it was reported that the organization had few members and little activity.[339][340]


Ittifaq al-Muslimin[edit]
Main article: Ittifaq al-Muslimin

The Jadids were Muslim modernist reformers within the Russian Empire in the late 19th and early 20th century. They normally referred to themselves by the Turkic terms Taraqqiparvarlar ('progressives'), Ziyalilar ('intellectuals'), or simply Yäşlär/Yoshlar ('youth').[341] Jadids maintained that Muslims in the Russian Empire had entered a period of decay that could only be rectified by the acquisition of a new kind of knowledge and modernist, European-modeled cultural reform. Although there were substantial ideological differences within the movement, Jadids were marked by their widespread use of print media in promoting their messages and advocacy of the usul ul-jadid[342] or "new method" of teaching in the maktabs of the empire, from which the term Jadidism is derived. A leading figure in the efforts to reform education was the Crimean Tatar Ismail Gasprinski who lived from 1851–1914. Intellectuals such as Mahmud Khoja (author of the famous play "The Patricide" and founder of one of Turkestan's first Jadid schools) carried Gaspirali's ideas back to Central Asia.[343]


Young People Against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia[edit]
I wanted to build bridges between Jews and Muslims in Malmö because antisemitism is a problem in the city. After that I realised how great the need was to talk about this. Now I work to combat all kinds of xenophobia. — Siavosh Derakhti[344]

Siavosh Derakhti (Persian: سیاوش درختی‎‎; born July 3, 1991) is a Swedish social activist, founder of Young People Against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia. In 2016, Derakhti was named by Forbes Magazine to its list of 30 influential leaders under the age of 30.[345] In recognition of his activism to reduce prejudice and xenophobia, the government of Sweden presented him in 2013 with the Raoul Wallenberg Award, an honor named after the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews from Nazi death camps during WWII. The selection committee said Derakhti set a "positive example" in his hometown of Malmö and throughout Sweden. "He is a role model for others," the Wallenberg Award committee wrote, "showing through his actions and determination that one person can make a difference."[346] On Nov. 8, 2012, the Swedish Committee Against Antisemitism gave Derakhti its first Elsa Award, established by Committee member Henrik Frenkel in memory of his parents to encourage young people to incorporate social media into the battle against Swedish anti-Semitism.[347] Sia, as he is known, travels throughout Sweden and gives presentations at schools, businesses and public organizations on the "equal dignity of all human beings." His team has also started a program for youth ambassadors, organized visits to concentration camps and sponsored training for young people involving exercises on cooperation and values.[348] In addition to combating anti-Semitism, the organization intends to fight Islamophobia, Antiziganism and homophobia, though Derakhti prefers to remain focused and face one issue at a time.[349]

North America[edit]

American Islamic Congress[edit]

The American Islamic Congress (AIC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in the United States. AIC was founded in November 2001 by a group of American Muslims to promote tolerance following the September 11, 2001 attacks.[350] AIC is a non-religious, civil rights organization whose stated goal is to build interfaith and inter-ethnic understanding.[351] It receives significant funding from the U.S. government.[352] Zainab Al-Suwaij co-founded the organitazion to "represent those American Muslims who cherished the freedoms of the U.S. after living under repressive regimes."[353] Suwaij was a prominent public supporter of the 2003 U.S. war with Iraq.[354][355]

American Islamic Forum for Democracy[edit]

American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) is an American Muslim think tank formed in 2003 by a small group of Muslim professionals in Phoenix, Arizona. The group's founder is Zuhdi Jasser who is also the group’s president and chief spokesman.[356] AIFD advocates for the separation of religion and state and confronts the ideologies of political Islam and openly counters the belief that the Muslim faith is inextricably rooted to the concept of the Islamic state.[357][358] Jasser and a group of American Muslims founded the group with the goal of demonstrating the compatibility of Islam with democracy and American values.[359] The AIFD supports separation of religion and state, religious pluralism, equality of the sexes, the unconditional recognition of Israel, and the creation of an independent Palestine “on the current ‘occupied territories.’”[359] The organization rejects terrorism and any justification for it.[359] Zuhdi Jasser has been the center of various controversies and has been criticized by several muslims and non muslims alike.

Canadian Muslim Union[edit]

Main article: Canadian Muslim Union

Center for Islamic Pluralism[edit]

The Center for Islamic Pluralism (CIP) is a United States-based Islamic think tank challenging Islamist interpretations of Islam. It was founded in 2004 by eight people including the Sufi Muslim author Stephen Suleyman Schwartz[360] and officially opened on March 25, 2005.[361] With its headquarters in Washington, D.C., today it has subsidiaries in London and Cologne, Germany and correspondents in 32 countries of the world.[360]

Muslim Canadian Congress[edit]

Tarek Fatah and other MCC board members at anti-war and anti-zionist demonstration in Toronto related with the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict.

Formed in December 2001, the Muslim Canadian Congress was organized to provide a voice to Muslims who support a "progressive, liberal, pluralistic, democratic, and secular society where everyone has the freedom of religion."[362] Tarek Fatah was one of the founders of the Muslim Canadian Congress in 2001, after the September 11 attacks[363] and served as its communications director and spokesperson until 2006. The group gained prominence by opposing the implementation of Shariah in civil law in Ontario and supporting the country's same-sex marriage legislation. The group also promotes gender equality and was involved in organizing a Muslim prayer session in which the prayers were led by a woman, Raheel Raza. It has also been critical of Islamic fundamentalism and has urged the government to ban donations to Canadian religious institutions from abroad arguing that doing so will curb extremism.[362]

Muslims for Progressive Values[edit]

Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV) was founded and incorporated by Ani Zonneveld in August 2007, headquartered in Los Angeles and with a regional office in Malaysia. In December 2013, United Nations recognized Muslims for Progressive Values as an official non-government organization (NGO) association member.[364] The NGO/DPI Executive Committee represents 1,500 NGO organizations with monthly meetings.[365] MPV’s consultative status enable its advocacy to go global by challenging human rights abuses in the name of Sharia law of Muslim-majority countries at the United Nations and at the Human Rights Council on issues of women's rights, LGBT rights, Freedom of Expression and Freedom of and from Religion and Belief.[366] MPV has a board of advisors including scholars and activists such as: Reza Aslan, Amir Hussein, Karima Bennoune, Daayiee Abdullah, Zainah Anwar, Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur, and El-Farouk Khaki.[367]

Muslim Reform Movement[edit]

The Muslim Reform Movement is an organization dedicated to reform in Islam based on values of peace, human rights and secular governance. The organization was founded on December 4, 2015 when the founders read a "Declaration of Reform" at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The founders then went to the Saudi-affiliated Islamic Center of Washington[368] and posted the Declaration of Reform on the doors of mosque "denouncing violent jihad, rejecting Islamic statism and opposing the 'ideology of violent Islamic extremism.'"[369]

Founding signatories of the Muslim Reform Movement are Asra Nomani, Tahir Aslam Gora, Tawfik Hamid, Usama Hasan, Arif Humayun, Farahnaz Ispahani, Zuhdi Jasser, Naser Khader, Courtney Lonergan, Hasan Mahmud, Raheel Raza, Sohail Raza, and Salma Siddiqui.[368]

Progressive Muslim Union[edit]

Secular Islam Summit[edit]

The Secular Islam Summit was an international forum for secularists of Islamic societies, held 4–5 March 2007 in St. Petersburg, Florida. It was largely organized and funded by the Center for Inquiry, a secular humanist educational organization, along with secular Muslims such as Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi and in partnership with the International Intelligence Summit, a forum on terrorism.[370][371]

The common ground of the participants was the belief that Islam and secular democracy should be compatible.[372] They agreed that Islam must be either a religion or a political philosophy, not both.[373] According to Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, one of the organizers, one of the summit's goals was to be a "sanctuary" for victims of Islamism and a forum for the embrace of secular values.[374]

Speakers ranged from former believers to devout reformers,[372] including Ibn Warraq (the pen name of an ex-Muslim author known for criticism of Islam), Tawfik Hamid (an ex-jihadist, now in hiding), Afshin Ellian (an Iranian refugee under police protection), Irshad Manji (a self-described "radical traditionalist"), Ayaan Hirsi Ali (a former member of the Dutch Parliament), and Hasan Mahmud (director of Shariah at the Muslim Canadian Congress).[375][376]

Several devout Muslims that had been invited to speak, such as Faisal Abdul Rauf and Mike Ghouse, did not attend; one that did, Irshad Manji, criticized the summit for "not making stronger overtures to practicing Muslims", and urged them to seek common ground.[377]


Over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, in accordance with their increasingly modern societies and outlooks, liberal Muslims have tended to reinterpret many aspects of the application of their religion in their life in an attempt to reconnect. This is particularly true of Muslims who now find themselves living in non-Muslim countries.[378]

At least one observer (Max Rodenbeck) has noted several challenges to "reform"—i.e. accommodation with the enlightenment, reason and science, the separation of religion and politics—that the other two Abrahamic faiths did not have to grapple with:

whereas Christian and Jewish reform evolved over centuries, in relatively organic and self-generated—albeit often bloody—fashion, the challenge to Islam of such concepts as empirical reasoning, the nation-state, the theory of evolution, and individualism arrived all in a heap and all too often at the point of a gun.[379]

In addition traditional sharia law has been shaped in all its complexity by serving for centuries as "the backbone" of legal systems of Muslim states, while millions of Muslim now live in non-Muslim states. Islam also lacks a "widely recognized religious hierarchy to explain doctrinal changes or to enforce them" because it has no [central] church.[379]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ "Islamic modernism was the first Muslim ideological response to the Western cultural challenge. Started in India and Egypt in the second part of the 19th century ... reflected in the work of a group of like-minded Muslim scholars, featuring a critical reexamination of the classical conceptions and methods of jurisprudence and a formulation of a new approach to Islamic theology and Quranic exegesis. This new approach, which was nothing short of an outright rebellion against Islamic orthodoxy, displayed astonishing compatibility with the ideas of the Enlightenment."[43]
  2. ^ "Salafism is, therefore, a modern phenomenon, being the desire of contemporary Muslims to rediscover what they see as the pure, original and authentic Islam, ... However, there is a difference between two profoundly different trends which sought inspiration from the concept of salafiyya. Indeed, between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of 20th century, intellectuals such as Jamal Edin al-Afghani and Muhammad Abdu used salafiyya to mean a renovation of Islamic thought, with features that would today be described as rationalist, modernist and even progressive. This salafiyya movement is often known in the West as “Islamic modernism.‘ However, the term salafism is today generally employed to signify ideologies such as Wahhabism, the puritanical ideology of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."[46]


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  3. ^ a b Asma Afsaruddin (2016). "Islamic World". In William H. McNeill. Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History (2 ed.). Berkshire Publishing Group. (subscription required (help)). The Islamic world is generally defined contemporaneously as consisting of nation-states whose population contains a majority of Muslims. [...] in the contemporary era, the term Islamic world now includes not only the traditional heartlands of Islam, but also Europe and North America, both of which have sizeable minority Muslim populations 
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