MLT – Pluralism in Islam

Faiz Khan

need to define terms or can’t have a conversation

share points of view

don’t walk on eggshells

shari’a: etymology-path [to water]; often translated as law; more similar to dharma, why you conduct your life

pluralism: acceptability/embrac e of more than one way or modality of expression or behavior

pluralism as applied to doctrine:

pluralism of world-view

theocentric (taqwa)

theoreductionist (only worried about God occasionally)

theophobic (God not on the radar, but not atheism)

inter-religious pluralism

exclusivisim vs. pluralism (only we are saved)

peaceful coexistence at the level of worldly operations

convert them?/tolerate and pity them?/embrace and recognize their expressions of taqwa?

do we need to “catch-up” to espouse peaceful coexistence?

historical revisionism/distortions

intra-Islamic pluralism

is there a pluralistic way to practice shari’ah?

[begs the question of there being only one shari’ah]

who creates/interprets shari’ah?

turns over to panelists for self-introductions

now he asks the panelist to label themselves as liberal/salafi/shi’ah/sunni/conservative/etc.

[oh yes, this is very problematic, just like the grammar of this sentence]

a number of panelists simply identify themselves as “Muslim”

this is, of course, the privilege of power, they mean they are Sunni Muslim because they do not accept Ali as an Imam

Yasir Qadhi

theology and pluralism

not all theologies can be true, there can be only one truth

the issue is how you deal with difference

i can respect others, but not believe they are right

Irshad Manji

appreciate different notions of pluralism

trouble with islam today is literalism

qualifies it as sweeping statement

Reza Aslan

other faiths express this literalism

no central authority in Islam [so this literalism is not a tenet of faith]

there are orthodoxic and orthopraxic faiths, but we are not orthodoxic [argument would be stronger if we weren’t orthopraxic]

Anas Osman

do believe Qur’an to be the word of God and thus incapable of error

humans are bound to err in all faiths

Zahra Jamal

the Qur’an itself articulates the diversity within the faiths, and amongst other faiths

not a supercession of other revelations, but a continuation [and completion?] of other revelations

Youcef Mammeri

pluralism is natural

Faiz: How can there be unity amongst the different approaches to faith? How do you define unity?


need to acknowledge God’s law


unity is not uniformity

belief in one God is not belief in one way

referring to the cartoon crisis: we were upset by mocking the Prophet, who is not God. why do we engage in this idolatry of the Prophet?


outraged by cartoons not b/c of representation of the Prophet, but emblematic of rampant Islamophobia in Europe

we have no church, the ummah is the sum of the individual parts

no one of us can define what the ummah means, those who attempt to are heretical


Islam is tolerant b/c God is loving and is one

everything that God has created reflects the Creator


unity is based on the shahada

respect for historical and contextual understandings of the faith

draw on the ethical message of the Prophet


ijma serves as our Pope

Side Panelists

Saleemah Abdul Ghafur

suspend judgement

look at day-to-day life

Kecia Ali

living tradition that is something where people have a sense of arguing about something they agree is worthwhile

Itrath Syed

don’t like unity, prefer solidarity

what’s missing is a discussion of material reality

burden of unity is placed on the marginal

Naz Georges

Prophet united with enemies by forgiving them and being compassionate and kind

these are the values we need to practice


not all Christians are exclusivist


does the ummah practice pluralism in the world?


at the turn of the century, for various reasons, sinning is no longer just sinning, but a sign of disbelief, resulting in loss of plurality


we don’t behave as if we are an ummah

directed to Irshad – what makes us Muslim? why must you be a secular Muslim as opposed to a Muslim secularist? – to the panel do we need to secularize Islam?


not arguing for secularizing Islam

arguing for opening gates of ijtihad

my faith is in Allah, not rituals

thrilled to be Muslim


the difference between secular humanism and Islam is Allah

we throw out a lot of terms and hadith

can be used to justify anything

let’s be careful about the words and how we interpret them


God has given us great diversity

we have more tolerance for sometimes Muslim than for theocentric Muslims

where does the closing of the gates of ijtihad come from as it is not in our tradition?


numerous schools were quickly reduced, something happened

no church or clergy in Islam? what is that? no religious authority?


authority is not divinely ordained, but come with scholarship

is the literalism we are seeing today a resurgence of Arab particularism over the universal message of Islam?




only one truth out there


legal thought has continued to grow and develop in ijtihad

Technorati Tags: