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The Lived Experiences of Progressive Muslims: Testing the Limits of Pluralism and Cosmopolitanism
Lisa Worthington

Last modified: 2015-08-31


Abdullahi An-Na’im (2006) argues that following the September 11 attacks there was a need for many Muslims, especially in the West, to seek and craft an Islam that they believed was compatible with Western values of pluralism and human rights. Progressive groups such as Muslims for Progressive Values and El-Tawhid Juma Circle are social manifestations of this need. The varied manifestations of progressive Islam all strive to realise social justice and equality through a critical engagement with Islamic sources and rely on an inquiry into prevalent contemporary Islamic practices. Although there is considerable literature on progressive Islamic thought (Esack 1997; Safi 2003a; Duderija 2011; Wadud 2006) not much is known about its social manifestations and the implications of these materials. To discover more about the lived experiences of progressive Muslims fieldwork was conducted though twenty in-depth interviews and observations in the United States and via Skype in 2013. This paper will argue that progressive Muslim practice can be explained through theories of cosmopolitanism and pluralism, however the pluralism of progressive Muslims does have a limit.


progressive Islam; pluralism; equality; cosmopolitanism