progressive muslims

I note that the attempt to create a "muslim daily kos" has failed, with ProgressiveIslam.org essentially chasing away Ali Eteraz (who has returned to his old blog haunts).

The basic problem I have with the so-called "progressive" muslim movement is the deep infatuation it has with "progressive" American political leftism. The very fact that a contributor to PI.org would choose the name "muslim hedonist" is in some sense indicative of the general "salad bar" attitude towards faith that makes a mockery of the very concept of Islam - asubmission to truth. Verily I will support the right of any muslim to define and interpret the truth as they see fit; but there is an engrained hostility towards faith - and particularly those who take a less "hedonistic" and more traditional interpretation of faith - that undermines their very claim to diversity. As with leftist groups in general, diversity is a thing in the abstract, whereas the reality is a strict code of orthodoxy not that different from the uber-religious muslims; yin and yang, on the surface different as night and day, yet in true shape completely alike.

Good luck to ProgressiveIslam.org, but they do not speak for me, I speak for myself. And I respect genuine defenders of the right to have faith - a freedom that I have never felt that PI.org or their supporters ever acknowledged - such as Thabet and Haroon far more than I do the narcissistic essays of Michael Muhammad Knight or Muslim Hedonist or Amina Wadud.

On this blog I strive to integrate modernity with faith and I succeed. I will not give up either; both are precious to me. That is my heritage and I am not ashamed to express it - with brass.

UPDATE: Mohja Kahf, writing at MWU:

The lazier among the progressives in the U.S. and Canada tend to act like House Slave Muslims. Too much reliance on what is pc in left-liberal Western discourse and what is au courrant in postmodern thought as the basis for their critique rather than a truly independent grounding in alternative spiritual paths. Here they should take a cue from the South African progressives & others abroad. If only the U.S. progs had experience with any sort of extra-systemic thought, with environmentalist thought, black radical thought, anything that would give them some backbone, some honest-to-goodness principles of their own. Instead, they run the other way wringing their hands abjectly whenever the nasty Field Slave Muslims say something Not Nice to Massa. Hey proggies, sometimes the Field Slave Muslims get it right, you know, even when one disagrees with their brute violence.



OmarG2 said...

Salaams, I think you say something right about leftist orientation of progressives. Sometimes, I think it gets in the way of fixing our communities and making them more livable for everyone. But, a civil society is constructed of multiple lines of effort.

Lastly, I objected to Mohja's above comment when she first wrote it. I noted that it was odd for an Arab immigrant woman of privelage to appropriate slave terminology. She, and all the other immigrants do not possess the heritage the having slave ancestors. For full disclosure, I am white, but I would never imagine myself (mis)appropriating the sorrowful legacy of slavery to make a political point, especially as one who does not have to live with that legacy. Appropriating that lexicon only seemed to reinforce my impression of how poorly immigrant Muslims relate to thier Black american Muslim brothers and sisters.

Aziz Poonawalla said...

She, and all the other immigrants do not possess the heritage the having slave ancestors.

I'm sorry but I don't really agree that having distant slave ancestors gives anyone more perspective on slavery than someone who doesn't.

Frankly I think it is unseemly to suggest that black americans have specific issues (within the context of being muslim) that other muslims don't. Black issues are one thing, muslim issues another, but black muslim issues? It doesn't make sense to me.

Perhaps if some muslims relate poorly to other muslims who happen to be black, then it's partly because not enough emphasis is being made on the shared muslim identity. That's a two way street.

Dustin said...

Aziz, just a note on something--

There is a philosophy called "Christian hedonism" that has an emphasis on finding joy in one's service to God.

I'm by no means a scholar on Islam, but I find it hard to believe that you don't have an analogue.

OmarG2 said...

Salaams, well I don't necesarily subscribe to the notion that a Muslim context submerges differing needs and erases pre- or non-Muslim experiences. I don't think one can neatly partition a person's "black issues" from thier "muslim issues" if only because a black american muslim has all of these identities and issues within a single person and I've rarely seen them as rigidly compartmentalized as you may have. The same, admittedly, goes for any other ethnicity, I think.

But, to say there are no black american muslim issues seems to ignore the experience of racism *within* Muslim communities. I may not be black, but I was raised in a black neighborhood and found myself more comfortable being with orthodox blackamerican Muslims; I saw plenty of instances of intra-Muslim racism exclusively towards them. Being white, it was hardly ever directed to me. So why talk about blackamerican muslim issues? They are the largest group of Muslims in America; they were here first; take your pick, but the moral repungnancy of immigrants missappropriating and redirecting the metaphors of a slavery they never experienced as privelaged latecomers doesn't at all sit right with me. But, its just my perspective. I'll ask a few of my freinds what they think of her usage. I'll report back in a while...

thabet said...


Muslim Hedonist explains why she calls herself that in this post.

...but there is an engrained hostility towards faith - and particularly those who take a less "hedonistic" and more traditional interpretation of faith - that undermines their very claim to diversity.

This is something I noted too. It appears the first thing more liberal/progressive Muslims want to do is not merely to combat what they perceive to be injustices (and which, it must be conceded, some traditionalists or conservatives will defend), but to pull down all strands of "conservative" or "traditional" Islamic thought and practice. They wish to deny Islamic pluralism as much as their religious opponents.