Monday, April 18, 2005

Islam’s Encounter with American Culture: Making Sense of the Progressive Muslim Agenda

The Progressive Muslim Union (PMU)’s drive to realign Islam to progressive values has stirred a controversy that was felt beyond the American shores. While the immediate questions of the controversy evolved around the right of women to lead a mixed-gender prayer, the discussion revealed deeper and profounder issues and concerns. At the core of the debate lies the old question of understanding divine intent and relating the revealed word to social context and cultural practices. How does one interpret Islamic sources in the contemporary world? How can one differentiate the universal elements of Islam from cultural practices that have particular relevance to specific time and place? And, above all, how does Islam affects, and is affected by, American cultures and traditions.