The article on the so-called “Progressive Islam”, published on our website, raises the question of the attitude towards that ideology and it’s opponents.

As for “Progressive Islam,” which denies the basic and consensual principles of Islamic theology, nothing to speak about — it is not Islam. Considering the fact that a significant number of white European Muslims are converts, for them it is of no interest at all, because there is almost no difference between such “Progressive Islam” and modern Christianity. And then why should we abandon the culturally customary religion to get the same thing, but from a different cultural milieu?

The issue with alternatives is more complicated. In his article Shadee Elmasrey refers to Imam Zaid Shakir, and to Abdal Hakim Murad critics of feminism and ‘progressive Islam’. His readers gladly reposted this article, however, among them there are many who, in other cases, mock both the shyakh of Zaytuna college, and Abdal Hakim Murad, calling them pseudo-traditionalists.

That is, apparently, there are situations in which these camps can act together as part of one wider camp, but inside of it their roads already diverge. As for the consolidated position, it is obvious – it is about protecting the borders of Islam as such from associating with those things that can not be connected or ‘’incorporated’’ to Islam, like queer Muslims, etc. But with that, as to the divergence of these ways, it needs to be understood.

The fact is that Abdal Hakim Murad, Zaytuna college and other like them are Islamic preachers and scientists who represent the Islamic vision born inside the West, and as a rule, by its indigenous inhabitants – white Europeans and Americans or African-Americans. Sometimes white Europeans and Americans and African Americans are among the critics of these shyukh from hardcore positions. But let’s be honest, a breeding ground for hardcore sentiment, their core is mainly Islamic communities associated with the Subcontinent and sometimes other countries of Asia. White and African-American converts only join this environment, but this environment reflects the specific reality and mentality of Asia.

It matters not so much from a racial point of view, although racial characteristics can also influence collective social mentality and practices. More importantly, we are talking about the based social milieu, a factory in which generations have developed their own understanding about what is permissible and unacceptable. We are not talking about whether these milieus and their understanding are good or not, but that they differ from the Western‘s, with it’s culture and history.

This is a key issue, because the discrepancies in the Islamic camp, which can be called conservative by it’s essence, moderate conservatives or conservative liberals and ultra-conservatives, are fundamentally based not on religious values, but on social practices and approaches to social adaptation or social isolation.

At the same time, it should be noted that the desire of the immigrant Islamic communities to isolate themselves from the influence of the western kufr in their milieu and conserve it, is quite natural. However, in this logic there is no place for us, white converts, except for those who want to assimilate in non-white immigrant communities. This is their right, but we do not want this, and we also do not believe that this is a path that is productive for the development of Islam and, especially, its spreading among dominant or demographically significant local communities.

In the moral sense, Islam is essentially conservative, and therefore we must repulse the so-called “Progressive Islam”. But if we want the Islamic call to be addressed to Western society and its indigenous communities, including white Europeans, then we need a culturally and socially adapted conservatism. However, we will not get it from closed communities and ghettos that do not want to adapt, but, on the contrary, have an aim of isolation. This “product” can only be produced by Islamic environment, grown from within Western society.

Is a broad conservative, actually just Islamic, front against “progressive Islam” possible? It is possible, if we are ready to honestly recognize what is common between us and what is different and assess the priority of this. Also, the rules of the game in the relationship of our differences are necessary. It seems that the most reasonable approach would be to refuse interventions in each other’s affairs on secondary issues and respect our differences, even if we do not agree with each other in some way. Since we belong to the same religion, we should give up missionary attitudes towards each other, which often comes from neophytes. Whether they come from immigrant communities that feel themselves to be Westerners, or white converts that want to join immigrant communities. The best option for them would be simply to transite to a new cultural environment and benefit it, instead of attacking their old milieu.

If we want to fight together, we need to learn to negotiate. But first of all, Western Muslims must determine their own way and their needs.



  1. Brilliant article!

    This is the point; European, White and Black converts are the brothers of the immigrants. As such, the concerns of each community must be respected and the dialogue must progress in terms of recognizing each other’s rightful and equal place in the Islamic brotherhood.

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