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The Reformers I: Ex- and Liberal Muslim Radicals Who Need Our Support Now More Than Ever

Installment one of my two-part series on Islam reformers. They are the liberals, seculars, creatives, activists, and scholars at the heart of reform.

These Islam reformers may be our best shelter for a gathering storm

Believe me, I’ve worked hard to stay away from political material. For most of my life, actually.

I’ve had my reasons but, in the days since the Orlando shooting, I’ve arrived at the belief that if I don’t say something sufficiently pointed about the problem of religious extremism, and make what case I can for the universality of liberal progressive values, I will not be doing everything in my power to end this nightmare.

I don’t know if this is the “right” move, and maybe I’ll decide against it further down the road but, as of now, this is where my head and heart are at. To my readers, that means I’ll be writing more openly, and posting more freely on Facebook and Twitter, about these topics.

For example, I recently asked a question on Facebook about what we can do as individuals to stop violence by radical Islamists:

Personally, I’ve come to believe that one of the most important social actions we can take at this moment in history is to support the work of liberal Muslims and Islam reformers. They who have risked everything to apostatize and to take a stance against the Islamic dark side.

Their stories are diverse, their strategies wide-ranging, and their lives are at risk. But they are the members of the global community closest to the issue, and they are working to the extent that they can within their communities to galvanize truly constructive change.

Reformer Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes:

Today, there are many dissidents who challenge Islam. Yet the West either ignores them or dismisses them as “not representative.” This is a grave mistake. Reformers such as Asra Nomani, Irshad Manji, Tawfiq Hamid, Maajid Nawaz, Zuhdi Jasser, Saleem Ahmed, Yunis Qandil, Seyran Ates, Bassam Tibi and Abd al-Hamid al-Ansari must be supported and protected. These reformers should be as well known in the West as Solzhenitsyn, Sakharov and Havel were generations earlier.

The purpose of this post and the one to follow, then, is to share the best resources I’ve found from the Islam reformers. Keep an eye out for my next post, which will elaborate on the contributions of a handful of these men and women.

After all, so much rides on the shoulders of these brave crusaders.

If you’re interested in more reading on the topic of religious extremism, you can find more Food for Free Thought posts here.

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