Progressive Islam is an inclusive Islamic interpretation that supports women’s rights, LGBT rights, economic parity, and education for all.
Over the past one hundred years, progressive Islamic thought has found strength and comfort within a secular-based governance, as Turkey moved from caliphate to secular democracy, Muslims under secular governance have brought about significant change in how human rights standards and progressive Islamic thought are compatible for our modern world. When Muslims develop an inclusive Islamic interpretation that supports women’s rights, LGBT rights, economic parity, and education for all, there is a broader participation in the modern world. When traditional practices of faith in Allah, emphasizes social justice, human compassion and unlimited mercy, there is a reciprocal, positive spiritual re-invigoration that proves Islam’s alternative ideologies can and do improve the lives of modern-day Muslims.
Universally, progressive Islamic thought is a dual process that calls for reeducating Muslim minds to reevaluate nascent Quranic teachings and history, which ultimately creates a believer who is comfortable with secular governance. Knowing the place of Islam’s origin, and a clarity of Quranic content in its historical context, provides a deeper understanding of what Islam’s possibilities can be in a modern-day and futuristic world. Whether inside and outside of secular states, MECCA’s goal to train local leaders in a progressive and inclusive Islamic philosophy will proffer a thoroughly rehabilitative and futuristic outlook and help to correct the past 250 years of debilitating Arab Wahhabist theological teachings that dominates discourse and causes ongoing decay of the Islamic faith today.
It is quite obvious that oil wealth from the Gulf states has been instrumental in promoting a one-size-fits-all Islamic philosophy to proliferate globally. For the past 60-plus years, the Arab Wahhabist ideology has been imported to Muslim and non-Muslim lands. Their teachings have negatively influenced Islamic educational standards in both Islamic schools and Western institutions of higher education. Accumulated evidence reveals the Wahhabist philosophy – and how it is practiced by jihadists worldwide – has killed thousands of non-Muslims, and negatively harmed many millions of Muslim lives.
Globally, radicalism in Muslim states is carried out by groups such as Al Qaeda, ISIS/Daesh, El-Shabab, Boko Haram, and other spinoff groups. Their approach implements Wahhabism to dictate what is Islamic faith, and how Wahhabist views support jihadist efforts to reestablish an Islamic caliphate. Utilizing physical intimidation, rape of men and women, child soldiers, and public displays of extreme violence and murder, which instilled debilitating fear within the masses.
In the West, Muslim schools and Western academic institutions are well-funded and sponsored by Wahhabists from Gulf states. These schools receive significant amounts of money each year – in the millions of dollars – to teach a Wahhabist curriculum indoctrinating young children and young adults. In colleges and universities, Gulf state endowments establish Islamic studies centers that promote Wahhabist-oriented curriculums leaning quite favorably towards Gulf state polity. When people are influenced by the Wahhabist ideology, particularly young people, they are already comfortable with jihadist ideologies and such organizations entice them to join their causes of jihad proliferating the world today. Whether the indoctrination is done inside a Muslim state or outside in a secular society, the inculcation of Arab Gulf state culture as “indicators” of the Islamic faith, it is very easy for Muslims of all backgrounds to believe as they are taught.
The Wahhabist ideology can be countered when an inclusive and progressive Islamic theology is emphasized. Reeducating people to understand the importance of a secular legal system, which supports a multifaith and multi-religious society, one can learn to realize an uncompromising Islamic theology based upon the earliest principles of the nascent Muslim community Prophet Muhammad established. When people inculcate an Islamic ideology that builds spiritual and moral integrity based upon universal human rights standards, they realize what is appropriate for our modern world today.
MECCA Institute is a part of the secular non-Muslim West, using modern technology to dissemination the Institute’s inclusive and progressive Islamic theology. MECCA has a diverse administrative leadership, highly-qualified and well-rounded Islamic professors, and an inclusive student body of women, men, LGBT and interfaith, expressing the diversity of Muslim and non-Muslim backgrounds. Revised and renewed evaluative tools use for teaching the Islamic faith, uproots the current educational standards that nurtures a jihadist mindset. New levels of enlightenment from the Quran and early Islamic history empowers Muslims, individually and collectively. Learning to offset the many negatives of Arab-focused culture is far better improvement over the current ideals that proliferates in many Muslim communities today. Such reeducation not only dampens radicalization, but also alters other ill-intended practices of oppressing women, children, sexual minorities, Muslim minorities that plague and devastate modern Muslim and non-Muslim lives.
MECCA Institute’s reeducation program and establishment of alternative mosques, Muslims learn and understand the diversity of Muslim cultures in the Islamic world, the diversity of their membership as minority or majority groups, and ways to increase cooperation between Muslims and non-Muslims collectively, within our secular governance. Thus, it is imperative MECCA establish inclusive mosques that are headed by religious leaders trained in our inclusive Islamic theology. Such centers provide the much needed spaces to provide opportunities to live an Islamic faith without the imposition and limitations imposed by Wahhabist ideology and frees Muslims from their tyranny.
Supporting MECCA Institute’s seminary, its Islamic think tank and research center Saloonaat, and MECCA’s online broadcasting system, you support an open portal that provides access to our inclusive and progressive theology – one our global community needs very much to revive, reform and enlighten our modern world.
Daayiee Abdullah is the Executive Director of MECCA Institute, a progressive Islamic institute with a think tank and a school.