Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Islam?

I have a post over at Talk Islam in which I attempt to open up a discussion regarding continuing responses of various Muslims to modernity and our current situation and whether these can be analogized to Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative Judaism.

I should emphasize that of course I am in no way trying to call for or encourage division nor even labelling amongst Muslims, but attempting to understand different intellectual reactions to our situation through broad categories in an academic way.

One Response to “Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Islam?”

  1. fairuza Says:

    Abu Noor, Asalamu-alaikum,

    This is a very interesting issue to talk about. We are an Ummah who closest resembles the Jews, and that is from the Prophet’s (saws) own mouth; so to not look at their experience as being similar to our own would be a shame. Judaism has always been a changing religion. It had to change right after the destruction of the second Temple. The religion couldn’t be fully realized without an existing Temple; hence the reason for the Talmud. The next challenge for the Jews was modernity and assimilation. That struggle formed all the various Jewish sects and movements that we see today (I would add Chasidism, Reconstructionist, and I am sure there are yet more to come). The way I see it is that we already have all the same type of groups within our mainstream Muslim community (reform, conservative, orthodox), but they have NOT been able to split into distinct communities as of yet. Nothing is “on paper” so to speak, but all the makings for the splits are in existence. I think the reasons for this (why we haven’t split yet) are fascinating and worthy of deeper exploration. Personally, I see the reason for the absence of a concrete split is because of the huge guilt complex that all Muslims have about possibly “dividing” the Ummah. Nobody wants to be the first one to do it. I think those who cannot stomach the “mainstream” at either end of the spectrum (sufis on one end, extremists on the other) have already effectively made their split. But they leave behind a huge middle group who all are trying (within the mainstream community) to stake their claim and make their voices heard as to what they believe “Islam is”. As for myself, I have to make peace in my heart with my religion and my beliefs and balance that with my own life experiences and, of course, my own sense of reason and logic. Fortunately, my husband and I have found (after a long and exhausting search) a group of scholars which truly speak to our hearts and have allowed us sufficent breathing room in what was becoming an increasingly stifling (and demoralizing) religious setting. I wish that the community would not split and that we could remain one big happy family….however, the longer that I am a Muslim, I no longer see that aim as being realistic….however unfortunate and sad it is.

    If we could all agree on what that “middle path” means…what an accomplishment that would be!

    Once a scholar who taught my husband said, and it may be worth quoting here given the topic: “You know that you are on the middle path when the Sufis call you a Salafi, and the Salafis call you a Sufi”.

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