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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Liberals and Hardliners: Islam at War with Itself By Bramantyo Prijosusilo,

The founder of the Liberal Islam movement in Indonesia, Ulil Abshar Abdalla, frequently receives death threats from Islamists who accuse his movement of being designed by America and "the Jews" to destroy Islam.

However, amongst the educated elite in Indonesia, Liberal Islam's supporters tend to be growing. It actively disseminates its ideas through a website (, through national broadsheets, a network of FM radios and even through Facebook.


The problem is that the Islamists' responses to current issues are stuck in the 13th Century. The Mongols have become the United States, the United Kingdom and their allies. Muslims and the world need a new, relevant, expression of Islam, one that can stand up to the militancy and the desperation of the jihadi Islamists. It must be an expression of Islam that is true to the spirit of the Qur'an and the examples of the Prophet Muhammad, but it must also contribute towards the humanism and ecological awareness of the 21st Century.

American (and Western) Muslims are the best equipped to produce this desperately needed expression of Islam. Traditional Islamic scholars are not well educated on current environmental issues, and do not relate to modern humanistic concepts such as gender equality and democracy. Islamic scholars brought up in the West have a much broader understanding of the issues facing mankind today.

Could these scholars now please stand up and speak?


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