What Is Liberal Islam?: The Elusive Reformation

Issue Date April 2003
Volume 14
Issue 2
Page Numbers 34-39
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While Islam as traditionally understood may not favor liberalism, the more “liberal” interpretations of Islam are not democracy friendly either, mainly because they lack wide popular support. The search for an “elusive” Islamic Reformation may not thus be right way to approach the democracy question. Even if such a “Reformation” were to materialize, it is likely to be divisive and disruptive in the short and medium terms. Meanwhile, the liberal movements with the most promising democratic potential appear to be those which have bypassed the theological question altogether and worked to build broad pro-democracy coalitions by agreeing to bypass divisive issues politicians are not equipped to solve.

About the Author

Abdelwahab El-Affendi is a senior research fellow at the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster, and coordinator of the Centre’s Project on Democracy in the Muslim World. His books include Who Needs an Islamic State? (1991) and Rethinking Islam and Modernity (2001).

View all work by Abdelwahab El-Affendi