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  1. #1
    Uthman's Avatar
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    Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

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    Imams are out of touch with the needs of Western Muslims, and divorced from the struggles their congregants face in secular society, according to a new report from a leading Canadian scholar.

    Many religious leaders don't offer constructive advice about how to reconcile traditional beliefs with the challenges of integration in Western societies, concludes the study, which is based on focus groups with 60 lay Muslims in Ottawa, Washington and Britain.

    "My ultimate fantasy would be to find an imam who gives a sermon in a Friday mosque, who happens to be someone who goes out to work from 9 to 5, takes the bus, is dealing with his kid who is picking up a marijuana joint at the age of 13," one interviewee said, "and not speaking to me about the battles that we won 1,200 years ago."

    Karim Karim, director of Carleton University's School of Journalism and Communication, is the author of the report to be published today by the Montreal-based Institute for Research on Public Policy.

    "We need to acknowledge the soul searching in the Muslim world," he said, "and the diversity of voices, and not let the process be hijacked by the groups or individuals who claim to speak for 'the Muslim community.' "

    Some Muslims in the survey complained about "the cultural illiteracy" of imported imams. Others expressed the desire for a more elevated discourse in the mosque and a critical approach to dogma.

    "What I am looking for is an intellectual Islam that examines where we are today and how we move forward," a participant noted.

    Others took issue with conservatism in the mosque, including dress codes for women, and imams who insist women fast when they are pregnant or menstruating.

    In fact, a lot of Muslim scholars are "reopening the gates of reasoning," said Prof. Karim, and engaging more with contemporary society. "Religious law's governance of the minutiae of daily life under religious law is contentious not only for Western Muslims but also for Muslims living in majority-Muslim countries," he notes.

    To counter the power of conservative imams, some Muslim institutions in Britain and the United States are training imams to develop a more critical approach to traditional religious issues. The report also recommends that Canadian policy-makers target "Islamophobia" through anti-discrimination programs and by supporting cross-cultural initiatives, such as the twinning of mosques and synagogues.

    Source

    Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report


    "I spent thirty years learning manners, and I spent twenty years learning knowledge."

    ~ 'Abdullāh bin al-Mubārak (rahimahullah)

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    Uthman's Avatar
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    Re: Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

    What can we do to address this problem? Do we agree that there is a problem, first and foremost?
    Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report


    "I spent thirty years learning manners, and I spent twenty years learning knowledge."

    ~ 'Abdullāh bin al-Mubārak (rahimahullah)

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    Re: Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report


    Interesting article. I'd say yes, there is a problem, and it's not all with the imams. The problems and solutions are definitely a two-way street. And one of the problems in the minds of us laypeople is exemplified by this quote from the article:

    "My ultimate fantasy would be to find an imam who gives a sermon in a Friday mosque, who happens to be someone who goes out to work from 9 to 5, takes the bus, is dealing with his kid who is picking up a marijuana joint at the age of 13," one interviewee said, "and not speaking to me about the battles that we won 1,200 years ago."
    What on earth is that all about?! That's like saying, "My ideal doctor would be one who collects the garbage for half the day before he takes my appointment." Seriously, it drips with contempt for the 'uluma, and assumes that they do nothing all week except show up for Jumuah salaah. And those battles that were won 1200 years ago? If we'd open our minds, maybe we'd learn the lessons from them and be able to relate them to our current day conditions. Or does that type of critical-thinking ability need to spoon-fed to us as followers of the deen too?

    Well, that's my two cents. I know there are more layers to explore in this issue, but these are my initial thoughts. Thanks for sharing this article.

    Last edited by zanjabeela; 02-28-2009 at 09:29 AM.
    Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

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    Uthman's Avatar
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    Re: Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

    Wa 'Alaykum As-salaam.

    I fully agree with you sister. Although there is perhaps more that they can do, it is definitely unfair to place all the blame on the Imaams. The quote you cited does indeed exemplify the problem of those Muslims who view the world and Islam through a purely Western mindset. That shouldn't be the case.
    Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report


    "I spent thirty years learning manners, and I spent twenty years learning knowledge."

    ~ 'Abdullāh bin al-Mubārak (rahimahullah)

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    Re: Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

    Others took issue with conservatism in the mosque, including dress codes for women, and imams who insist women fast when they are pregnant or menstruating.


    Conservatism? That's sheer lack of knowledge.

    Yes, there is a problem. But not with every imam, ah c'mon, one can't say every on issues like these. Oh I hate that word. As if every teachers was a bad teacher, or every Christian was a bad person etc.

    OK, sorry I'm drifting away.

    I can understand what zanjabeela here is saying, that "if we open our minds" we can understand the wisdom and knowledge behind those stories. But I think people expect more from imams, like advanced counselling, which in my experience with imams, they haven't 'studied' it. Counselling isn't easy and it doesn't just come with the package of studying religion.


    People really are ignorant if they think imams don't work or live a "normal" life. As I said earlier, they also expect some kind of amazing package of intelligence, wisdom and counselling. Imams develop, just like a teacher gets better and better. Or they're simply gifted.

    And again, just statistics and based on "that" something "alarming" is found.
    Last edited by Al-Zaara; 02-28-2009 at 09:34 AM.
    Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

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    zanjabeela's Avatar
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    Re: Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report



    Oh, and one other thing...if that imaam actually had a kid who picked up a marijuana joint, the community would probably scream bloody murder and say, "How can he lecture us when he can't teach his own kids any better?" Really. What drivel.

    Quote Originally Posted by Osman View Post
    Wa 'Alaykum As-salaam.

    I fully agree with you sister. Although there is perhaps more that they can do, it is definitely unfair to place all the blame on the Imaams. The quote you cited does indeed exemplify the problem of those Muslims who view the world and Islam through a purely Western mindset. That shouldn't be the case.
    True...this sounds like exactly what they are doing, implying an inferiority to pure Islamic knowledge and scholars of said knowledge.

    And yes, sis Al-Zaara...they really do seem to be confusing lack of knowledge for conservatism. What a pity!

    Last edited by zanjabeela; 02-28-2009 at 09:40 AM.
    Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

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    Re: Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

    Stupidness objectified. Yeah there are some who need to be told that they are living in US/UK/Aus not "back home" but this "report" seems to generalize a lot.
    Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

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    Re: Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

    sister zanjabeela made a very good point, if we do get an imam with such a son, or takes the bus, works 9-5 etc etc, some would say hmmm is he even fit to be an imam?!

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    Re: Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report



    i cant speak for the canadians who contributed to this report but i can certainly understand where many muslims in britain are coming from.

    there seems to be two types of imams here...

    1. cultural, likely only qualification is being hafiz in quran and knows little or nothing about the rulings or how they are devived, most likely cannot speak and often refuses to learn english.

    2. mufti-saab, sometimes someone with huge amounts of ilm, but it is totally beyond the reach of most people who dont approach him, dont know they can just pop in and ask him questions, also there is a big 'translation' problem because he is speaking about islam using complex terms and ideas that are quite frankly beyond most people.

    alhamdulillah there are a few imams who are different, but they are few and far between but i have noticed the imams trained in bury and al-madina make big efforts to speak english as well as urdu /arabic but once again we still need to sometimes bring it down to a level people can understand.

    people are lacking deen so much in their lives, we need the ulema to reach out to them, not just expect them to be jumping into an alim class straight away after they come in from the street, only just stopping whatever haram has been recently in their lives.

    Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

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    Re: Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

    This article confuses conservatism with being uninformed and makes me very angry.


    Really, is there even such a thing as a "conservative" Muslim???

    Were the Sahaba "conservative" or "liberal"???

    These god forsaken words have NO freaking place in Islam. NONE.


    Being a Muslim is being a Muslim and that means following the Prophet pbuh's and the sahaba's example. There is no conservatism, liberalism BS.


    This report is poison for the Ummah and smells of innovation. "An imam who doesnt talk about battles that we won 1200 years ago???"

    You dont want to talk about the most important triumph of religion with YOUR IMAM???

    Get religious advice from Imams and professional help from a family counselor you retard!
    Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

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    Re: Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

    I think there is a lack of Imams thus anyone can act as an Imam. .. I have already seen small mosques where they resort to cassettes for both prayer and sermon...

    and yes many of them are divorced from the needs of the community, and the good ones feel that they are better suited for Muslim countries, I have seen a great sheikh leave for the middle east he had both Al-Azhar and Yale education.. those don't come around often and when they leave it is a complete loss for the community they are meant to serve.

    Sometimes I also feel like the current anti-Islamic climate prevents them from addressing needed topics, so they focus on the most superficial aspects of how wide your jelbab and what drab color as opposed to really pressing problems which is the original purpose of sermons as I understand.. see what the problems are of the community and address them...

    Already in the Quran we are told
    .
    تِلْكَ أُمَّةٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَلَكُم مَّا كَسَبْتُمْ وَلاَ تُسْأَلُونَ عَمَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ {134}
    [Pickthal 2:134] Those are a people who have passed away. Theirs is that which they earned, and yours is that which ye earn. And ye will not be asked of what they used to do.

    so yes there is no point of them addressing the issues of previous ummas, when this umma is suffering now

    my two cents

    and Allah swt knows best


    Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

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    Re: Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

    Quote Originally Posted by AntiKarateKid View Post
    This article confuses conservatism with being uninformed and makes me very angry.


    Really, is there even such a thing as a "conservative" Muslim???

    Were the Sahaba "conservative" or "liberal"???

    These god forsaken words have NO freaking place in Islam. NONE.
    I agree with you akhee. I also dislike the terms 'moderate' and 'extreme'.

    Being described as a 'moderate' Muslim implies that I'm not doing enough and 'extreme' implies that I'm doing too much, as if that's even possible.
    Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report


    "I spent thirty years learning manners, and I spent twenty years learning knowledge."

    ~ 'Abdullāh bin al-Mubārak (rahimahullah)

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    Re: Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

    Quote Originally Posted by AntiKarateKid View Post
    Really, is there even such a thing as a "conservative" Muslim???

    Were the Sahaba "conservative" or "liberal"???

    These god forsaken words have NO freaking place in Islam. NONE.

    Being a Muslim is being a Muslim and that means following the Prophet pbuh's and the sahaba's example. There is no conservatism, liberalism BS.
    I think you are missing the point. Both 'liberal' and 'conservative' Muslims claim to be following Islam. This isn't about the question if one thing or another that the Prophet has done is good or bad, it is a question what about he has done and what he has prescribed. This is a problem of interpretation of Islamic sources.

    What is true Islam? Is it your Islam? Or Osman's Islam? Some Saudi Imam's Islam?

    The fallacy here is the idea that there is only one interpretation possible. Islamic interpretations are like noses, everybody has one. There might well be a true Islam, but as mere humans it doesn't appear Muslims are capable of agreeing on what it is!

    IMHO anyway.
    Last edited by KAding; 03-01-2009 at 07:24 PM.

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    Uthman's Avatar
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    Re: Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

    Greetings KAding,

    I hope you're well.

    A couple of questions:

    Would you agree that it is essential to have a sound knowledge of Qur'anic Arabic and to have studied in detail Prophet Muhammad's life (for context) before deciding that you can interpret the Qur'an?

    Quote Originally Posted by KAding View Post
    Islamic interpretations are like noses, everybody has one.
    I appreciate that you are probably exaggerating a little, but from where did you get this impression?

    Regards
    Last edited by Uthman; 03-01-2009 at 11:03 PM.
    Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report


    "I spent thirty years learning manners, and I spent twenty years learning knowledge."

    ~ 'Abdullāh bin al-Mubārak (rahimahullah)

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    Re: Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

    Sometimes I also feel like the current anti-Islamic climate prevents them from addressing needed topics,
    I don't see how anything stops imams from talking about some of the problems like DV, drug use, suicide....ect.
    Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

    O my Lord,

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    If I worship you
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    Re: Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

    quote:"My ultimate fantasy would be to find an imam who gives a sermon in a Friday mosque, who happens to be someone who goes out to work from 9 to 5, takes the bus, is dealing with his kid who is picking up a marijuana joint at the age of 13,"


    Hello? How could someone be an Imam if they work 9-5 in an office? The person is confusing khateeb with an Imam. The former can have an ordinary job, but they can just be a learned person or not so learned, but able to give an inspirational khutba. The latter usually works full time in a mosque....... carrying out marriages, teaching quran to kids, solving fmaily disputes, perhaps working with the local community and gang violence. Depending on the Imam it is. Secondly, why does this person think that Imams are out from this world and they do not have the same problems as everyone else. Maybe the Imam son has problems too, but, anwyay, why should it be a critrea for an imam?


    Lastly, one should never belittle the stories and battles of the past. Why do you think Allah(SWT) mentions some of the stories of the past nations, as though they are one in the same? because there are some sunnan which stay the same and those who learn from them will avoid falling into the traps of the people of yesterday.



    How many times has the epic battle of Badr being repeated and a small army defeated a superior one? How many times has the disobedience of uhud cost the Muslims their lands and livelihoods? The piling up mass wealth, sexual practices, shirk, arrogance, and oppression of some of the modern nations are no different to that of thamud, ad, phoaroah(How many gardens and fountains they left behind, and ripe crops and noble residences. What comfort and ease they had delighted in! So it was. Yet We bequeathed these things to another people. (44:25-28)), lut, greece and rome. In fact, the latter two civilizations inspire and form much of the current ideology.


    Do you not see what your Lord did with 'Ad-Iram of the Columns whose like was not created in any land-and Thamud who carved out rocks in the valley-side, and Pharaoh of the Stakes, all of whom were tyrants in their lands and caused much corruption in them? (89:6-12)

    However, I do agree that the khutbas should be carefully written and should reflect the different needs and situations of the Muslims in the West. Sexual education, gang violence should be covered, not just giving a khutba on charity each week. At the same the basics, the foundation, the building block, which is tawheed, should alawys be emphasised, again, and again, and again; there should no compromise on this matter as some are seeking.
    Last edited by Omar_Mukhtar; 03-02-2009 at 03:34 AM.

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    Re: Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

    Questioner
    Muhammad - United States

    Title
    Role of Friday Khutbah

    Question
    As-Salamu `alakum. What is the role of the Friday sermon (khutbah) in Islam? Can you give supporting evidence to your answer from the life of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him? May Allah reward you?

    Date
    24/Feb/2003

    Name of Counsellor

    Topic
    Friday Prayer
    Answer
    Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
    In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

    All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

    Brother, first of all, we’d like to say that we are impressed by your question, which emanates from a thoughtful heart. May Allah Almighty help us all adhere to the principles of this true religion, Islam, and enable us to be among the dwellers of Paradise in the Hereafter, Ameen.

    In fact, the purpose of Friday khutbah (sermon) is to remind the Muslims about their responsibilities and to motivate them to stop evil and promote good in their lives, families and in the community. It is also the purpose of the Friday khutbah to inform the Muslims about the condition of the Ummah and the world.

    Dealing with the question in point, the European council for Fatwa and Research, headed by the prominent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, issues the following Fatwa:

    "The Friday sermon is a reminder, a call, a guidance and a means of education. We learn that whenever Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) delivered the sermon, his eyes would become red, his voice rose, with intense emotion as one giving a warning against the enemy.

    Such a spellbinding way of delivering sermon related to the fact that the overwhelming motive was to remind the Muslims. Hence, it is narrated that he used to read surat Qaf in the Friday prayer, which by itself, is a reminder and a warning. However, it should be borne in mind that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used not to prolong the sermon so as not to bore the listeners. He is also reported to have said, ‘Shortening the sermon and prolonging the prayer is a sign of the man’s knowledge.’

    May Allah guide us all to the straight path and direct us to that which pleases Him, Amen.



    http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/S...=1119503544372
    Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

    Text without context is pretext
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    KAding's Avatar
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    Re: Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

    Quote Originally Posted by Osman View Post
    Greetings KAding,

    I hope you're well.
    Thanks. And you?

    A couple of questions:

    Would you agree that it is essential to have a sound knowledge of Qur'anic Arabic and to have studied in detail Prophet Muhammad's life (for context) before deciding that you can interpret the Qur'an?
    Yes, I would say that is largely correct. Are you suggesting that everyone who has those qualities would end up interpreting Islam in the same way? That they would all end up following the same and "true" Islam? I think Ayatollah Khomeini, the Imam's behind islam-qa.com and more 'moderate' Imam's at, say, IslamOnline.net all have that knowledge. Yet, they often appear to reach different conclusions on what Islam teaches. A lot of it I suppose depends on whether you insist on taking the Qu'ran literal and whether you think Islam teaches you that you can supplant a 7th century society into today's world.

    Fact of the matter is that there are both more 'liberal' and more 'conservative' interpretations of Islam. That in itself makes these words useful when describing Islamic movements or certain scholars. That some believe that only their interpretation is right and that therefor those with other interpretations are wrong doesn't seem very important. In the end you still have liberal and conservative Muslims and Imams. Some might not like it, but its a fact. What other neutral words should we use to describe this real-world phenomenon? I have the feeling a lot of 'there-is-only-one-Islam-and-that-is-my-Islam' people would prefer to use more judgemental words, like Munafiq or kaffir.

    Especially for me that wouldn't make sense. After all, who am I to say, as non-Muslim, who is right or wrong.

    I appreciate that you are probably exaggerating a little, but from where did you get this impression?

    Regards
    Yes, it is absolutely an exaggeration . I suppose it all depends on what you are talking about. If you are talking about religious schools of thought there are certainly fewer, but if you are talking about how individual Muslims live their lives then it certainly seems Islam means something different to each of them. I always am surprised by the contrast between what I read here and what I then see Muslims do in my own city. And I'm not talking about sinners as such, many of these genuinely seem to believe that Islam allows them to act as they do (examples: listen to music, have contact with the other sex, not wear a headscarf).

    I would agree that these are probably "bad Muslims". But hey, once again, who am I to say what the 'true' Islam is. These people exist, and we still need words to describe them.
    Last edited by KAding; 03-02-2009 at 02:08 PM.

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    Re: Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

    I agree with some but disagree with others. The job of the Imam is to teach the word of Allah. His 9 to 5 is to study the Quran nothing else. That is why people donate to the mosque. I disagree with the fast ing of pregnant women. It is dangerous to the unborn child.

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    Re: Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report

    Greetings KAding,

    Quote Originally Posted by KAding View Post
    Thanks. And you?
    I'm fine, by Allah's grace.

    Quote Originally Posted by KAding View Post
    Are you suggesting that everyone who has those qualities would end up interpreting Islam in the same way? That they would all end up following the same and "true" Islam? I think Ayatollah Khomeini, the Imam's behind islam-qa.com and more 'moderate' Imam's at, say, IslamOnline.net all have that knowledge. Yet, they often appear to reach different conclusions on what Islam teaches.
    I'm not suggesting that at all. I would argue though, that people who possess these qualities would only differ on a very small percentage of issues, and minor theological issues at that. What I don't think has been explained very clearly to most Non-Muslims is that Islam does allow some leeway for differences of opinion. In fact, the four sunni schools of thought differ on various issues of theology, yet all four Imaams are still highly respected by all Muslims.

    Furthermore, in a saying of Prophet Muhammad (the authenticity of which is disputed), he described Ikhtilaf (differences of opinion) as being a Rahma (mercy) for the Ummah.

    So to sum up, I believe that, were people to have a proper understanding of Qur'anic Arabic and a correct undertanding of the context in which the verses were revealed, they would agree on most issues and only perhaps differ on minor issues upon which different conclusions can be reached depending on the type of reasoning which is applied.

    Quote Originally Posted by KAding View Post
    A lot of it I suppose depends on whether you insist on taking the Qu'ran literal
    Again, I would argue that a proper understanding of Arabic and the context in which each verse was revealed would be essential to determine when the Qur'an means something literally and when not.

    Quote Originally Posted by KAding View Post
    and whether you think Islam teaches you that you can supplant a 7th century society into today's world.
    I'm not aware of anybody who holds that opinion. Please elaborate!

    Quote Originally Posted by KAding View Post
    Fact of the matter is that there are both more 'liberal' and more 'conservative' interpretations of Islam.
    Absolutely. As for whether the people who make such interpretations are 'qualified' or knowedgeable enough to make them is a slightly different matter perhaps. As far as I'm concerned, the Qur'an is not as ambiguous as it is made out to be, but due to a lack of knowledge people tend to interpret it willy-nilly (pardon the expression).

    Quote Originally Posted by KAding View Post
    That in itself makes these words useful when describing Islamic movements or certain scholars. That some believe that only their interpretation is right and that therefor those with other interpretations are wrong doesn't seem very important. In the end you still have liberal and conservative Muslims and Imams. Some might not like it, but its a fact. What other neutral words should we use to describe this real-world phenomenon?
    I see where you're coming from here, and am inclined to agree with you on this point.

    Quote Originally Posted by KAding View Post
    I suppose it all depends on what you are talking about. If you are talking about religious schools of thought there are certainly fewer, but if you are talking about how individual Muslims live their lives then it certainly seems Islam means something different to each of them. I always am surprised by the contrast between what I read here and what I then see Muslims do in my own city. And I'm not talking about sinners as such, many of these genuinely seem to believe that Islam allows them to act as they do (examples: listen to music, have contact with the other sex, not wear a headscarf).
    Are you sure that their actions are based upon what they believe Islam does or does not allow them to do? Are you sure that they are not simply ignorant of Islam's teachings, as many Muslims are?

    Quote Originally Posted by KAding View Post
    These people exist, and we still need words to describe them.
    Fair enough.

    Regards
    Imams unable to grasp needs of Western Muslims: report


    "I spent thirty years learning manners, and I spent twenty years learning knowledge."

    ~ 'Abdullāh bin al-Mubārak (rahimahullah)


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