List of liberal and progressive Muslims

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Template:Dynamic list Liberal and progressive Muslims are professed Muslims who have produced a considerable body of liberal thought on the re-interpretation and reform of Islamic understanding and practice.[1][2] Their work is sometimes characterized as "progressive Islam" (Template:Lang-ar Template:Transl), some regard progressive Islam and liberal Islam as two distinct movements.[3]

Afghanistan

Malalai Joya: (born April 25, 1978) is an activist, writer, and a former politician from Afghanistan.[4] She served as a Parliamentarian in the National Assembly of Afghanistan from 2005 until early 2007, after being dismissed for publicly denouncing the presence of warlords and war criminals in the Afghan Parliament. She is an outspoken critic of the Karzai administration and its western supporters, particularly the United States.[5][6] Her suspension in May 2007 has generated protest internationally and appeals for her reinstatement have been signed by high-profile writers, intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky, and politicians including Members of Parliament from Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Spain.[7] She was called "the bravest woman in Afghanistan" by the BBC.[8]

Meena Keshwar Kamal: (February 27, 1956 – February 4, 1987), commonly known as Meena, was an Afghan revolutionary political activist, feminist, women's rights activist and founder of Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), who was assassinated in 1987. In 1979 she campaigned against DRA, and organized meetings in schools to mobilize support against it, and in 1981, she launched a bilingual feminist magazine, Payam-e-Zan (Women's Message).[9][10][11] She also founded Watan Schools to aid refugee children and their mothers, offering both hospitalization and the teaching of practical skills.[11][12] In a special issue of the Time Magazine on November 13, 2006, included Meena among "60 Asian Heroes" and wrote that "Although she was only 30 when she died, Meena had already planted the seeds of an Afghan women's rights movement based on the power of knowledge." [13]

Shukria Barakzai: is an Afghan politician, journalist and a prominent Muslim feminist. She campaigns on issues such as maternal and infant mortality.[14] Barakzai states, "Child marriage, forced marriage, and violence against women are still common and accepted practices."[15] She focuses on large issues, saying, "in my opinion the burka is not that important. What is important is education, democracy, and freedom."[14] She also uses her position to point out the lack of freedom of the press and the risks to journalists.[15] She is one of only a handful of female MPs who speak up for women's rights, and faces death threats for her views.[16] While expressing gratitude for "the support of the international community" in creating the conditions by 2004 in which hundreds of publications and dozens of radio stations could flourish, Barakzai condemns "the support of armed groups and outlaws, a key part of U.S. policy".[15]

Algeria

Mohammed Arkoun: (1928–2010) is an Algerian scholar and thinker, he was considered to have been one of the most influential secular scholars in Islamic studies contributing to contemporary intellectual Islamic reform. In a career of more than 30 years, he had been a critic of the tensions embedded in his field of study, advocating Islamic modernism, secularism, and humanism.[17]

Salima Ghezali: (born 1958) is an Algerian journalist and writer.[18] A founding member of Women in Europe and the Maghreb, president of the association for the advancement of women, editor of the women's magazine NYSSA, which she founded, and editor of the French-language weekly La Nation, Salima Ghezali is an activist of women's rights and human rights and democracy in Algeria.[19]

Canada

El-Farouk Khaki: (born October 26, 1963) is a Canadian refugee and immigration lawyer, and human rights activist on issues including gender equality, sexual orientation, and progressive Islam. Khaki founded Salaam, the first gay Muslim group in Canada and second in the world, in 1993, and organized the Salaam/Al-Fateha International Conference in 2003.[20] He co-founded and served as Secretary General of the Muslim Canadian Congress, in August 2006 until the group split. Khaki and other members including much of the leadership of the MCC created a new organization, the Canadian Muslim Union (CMU). He also founded, with academic Laury Silvers, and his partner Troy Jackson the El-Tawhid Juma Circle. ETJC is a gender-equal, LGBTQ affirming space for Friday prayers.

Faisal Kutty: is a lawyer, academic, writer, public speaker and human rights activist.[21] He has called for reforms in the area of Islam and adoptions citing how contemporary practice clashes with the spirit behind the Quran's calls to take care of orphans.[22] He does not believe that face veils are mandatory according to the most authentic interpretations of Islamic law but he defends the rights of women to choose to wear them in a liberal democratic society.[23] He further argues that scholars are unanimous in holding that the face must be uncovered during circumambulation of the Kaaba in Mecca, during what is arguably considered a peak moment of Islamic spirituality.

Irshad Manji: (born 1968) is a Muslim Canadian author, educator, and advocate of a reformist interpretation of Islam. Manji is a well-known critic of traditional mainstream Islam.[24] Manji's previous book, The Trouble with Islam Today, has been published in more than 30 languages, including Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Malay and Indonesian.[25] She was troubled by how Islam is practised today and by the Arab influence on Islam that took away women's individuality and introduced the concept of group honour.[26] Manji has produced a PBS documentary in the America at a Crossroads series titled "Faith Without Fear", chronicling her attempt to "reconcile her faith in Allah with her love of freedom".[27]

Raheel Raza: (born 1949) is a Pakistani-Canadian journalist, author, public speaker, media consultant, human rights and anti-racism activist, interfaith discussion leader, and has advocated what she believes is gender equality, especially for Muslim women.[28][29][30][31][32][33] She advocate for secularism and separation of church and state.[34] She opposes Islamic extremism, terrorism and all violence in the name of religion, and in the name of Islam in particular.[31][28][28] Raza is a board member of and Director of Interfaith Affairs for the Muslim Canadian Congress.[35][36][37] She founded and is currently president of Forum for Learning, an interfaith discussion group. It is a non-profit organization.[38] She became the first woman to lead mixed-gender Muslim prayers in Canada, in 2005 and received death threats following the event.[39][40][41] She is also against the use of hijab and the burqa.[42]

Tarek Fatah: (born 20 November 1949) is a Canadian writer,[43][44] broadcaster, secularist and liberal activist.[45] Fatah is a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress and served as its communications officer and spokesperson. Fatah advocates gay rights, a separation of religion and state, opposition to sharia law, and advocacy for a "liberal, progressive form" of Islam.[46] Some of his activism and statements have been met with criticism from right-wing Muslim groups.

Denmark

Naser Khader: (born July 1, 1963) is Danish-Syrian and a member of the Parliament of Denmark for the Conservative People's Party. Khader co-founded an association of Islamism critics in 2008, with the aim to promote freedom of speech and inspire moderate Muslims worldwide.[47] Khader and the Conservative Party advocate a complete ban on the burqa as part of an integration initiative by the Conservatives' parliamentary group, describing it as "un-Danish" and "oppression against women".[48]

Egypt

Ahmed Subhy Mansour: (born March 1, 1949) is an Egyptian American activist.[49] He founded the small Egyptian Quranists sect that is neither Sunni nor Shia, was exiled from Egypt, and lives in the United States as a political refugee.[50] Mansour was an advocate for democracy and human rights in Egypt for many years, during which time he was isolated by Islamic extremist clerics and persecuted by the government. He was arrested and served time in prison for his liberal political, religious, and social views.[51] Mansour sought and was granted political asylum in the United States in 2002. He has served as a visiting fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, and at the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School.[51] Sheikh Mansour was fired from Al-Azhar University after expressing his hadith rejector views.[52]

Farag Foda: was a prominent professor, writer, columnist,[53] and human rights activist.[54] Foda was noted for his critical articles and trenchant satires about Islamic fundamentalism in Egypt. In many newspaper articles, he pointed out weak points in Islamist ideology and its demand for Sharia law, asking how it would deal with specific problems such as the housing shortage. Foda felt that he was defending Islam against its distortion by Islamists, stating ‘Islam is a religion and Muslims are human beings; religion is blameless, while humans make mistakes’.[55] After an Islamist periodical condemned as immoral the broadcast of the ballet Swan Lake on television, he argued that the problem lay with "the onlooker (mushahid) rather than the looked upon (mushahad)" and quoted passages from a 1979 book The Jurisprudence of Looking in Islam, which directs men to avoid looking at both women and males and, "in particular, smooth-faced boys".[55] He was assassinated on 9th of June 1992 by members of Islamist group al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya after being accused of blasphemy by a committee of clerics (ulama) at Al-Azhar University.[53]

Gamal al-Banna: (15 December 1920 – 30 January 2013) was an Egyptian author, and trade unionist. He was the youngest brother of Hassan al-Banna (1906–49), founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.[56] Al-Banna was considered a liberal scholar, known for his criticism of Islamic traditional narratives rejecting 635 Hadiths of Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim which he finds contradictory to the Qur'an.[57] Gamal al-Banna represented an interpretation of Islam which is rationalist, humanist, egalitarian, feminist, anti-authoritarian, liberal and secular. As a political thinker and social reformer he adopted an anti-capitalist position.[58][59] Al-Banna was a religious Muslim who opposed the notion of an "Islamic state", for it is abused by politicians for political ends whereby both the Muslims and Islam are harmed. He championed the separation of state and religion, to protect Muslims and Islam from the political establishment's misuse of Islam.[59]

Muhammad Shahrour: (born 1938) is an Islamic thinker and author. He is an Emeritus Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Damascus who writes extensively about Islam.[60] He refers to the book of Prophet Mohammad as "The Book" not the Quran; which makes him unique and different from all other Islamic thinkers and traditional scholars. Yet similar to Quraniyoon Muslims, he does not consider Hadith as a divine source.[61]

Nasr Abu Zayd: (July 10, 1943 – July 5, 2010) was an Egyptian Qur'anic thinker, author, academic and one of the leading liberal theologians in Islam. He is famous for his project of a humanistic Qur'anic hermeneutics, which "challenged mainstream views" on the Qur'an sparking "controversy and debate."[62] While not denying that the Qur'an was of divine origin, Zayd argued that it was a "cultural product" that had to be read in the context of the language and culture of seventh century Arabs,[63] and could be interpreted in more than one way.[64] He also criticized the use of religion to exert political power.[65] In 1995 an Egyptian Sharia court declared him an apostate, this led to threats of death and his fleeing Egypt several week later.[65] He later "quietly" returned to Egypt where he died.[65]

Saad Eddin Ibrahim: Sociologist, is one of Egypt's leading human rights and democracy activists. He is the founder of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies in Cairo, the Arab Organization for Human Rights and the Arab Council of Childhood and Development. He is also a board member of the Arab Democracy Foundation.[66][67]

Sayyid Al-Qemany: is an Egyptian secular writer and thinker. His works emphasize the importance of critical thinking, and he is an opponent of Islamic fundamentalism, supporting separation of religion and state, and tolerance. Al-Qemany views the Koran as more than religious scripture and contends that it is legitimate to study it from a historical perspective using the same scientific tools and criteria that are employed for other disciplines.[68]

France

Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed: is the founder imam of the first European inclusive mosque in Paris, France, with the goal of accommodating the LGBT and feminist Muslim communities. Zahed is the first French Muslim man to be civilly married with another man (in South Africa).[69][70] Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed calls for an Islam that is neither homophobic nor misogynistic.[71] In France, he has openly taken the position in favor of same-sex marriage. Zahed is the founder of the group 'Homosexual Muslims of France' and, in November 2012, he set up a prayer room in Paris. It was described by the press as the first gay-friendly mosque in Europe.

India

Khān Abdul Ghaffār Khān: (1890–1988) nicknamed Bāchā Khān (king of chiefs) or Pāchā Khān, was a Pashtun independence activist against the rule of the British Raj. He was a political and spiritual leader known for his nonviolent opposition, and a lifelong pacifist and devout Muslim.[72] Bacha Khan founded the Khudai Khidmatgar ("Servants of God") movement in 1929, whose success triggered a harsh crackdown by the British Empire against him and his supporters, and they suffered some of the most severe repression of the Indian independence movement.[73]

Indonesia

Abdurrahman Wahid: (7 September 1940 – 30 December 2009), colloquially known as Gus Dur, was an Indonesian Muslim religious and political leader who served as the President of Indonesia from 1999 to 2001. The long-time president of the Nahdlatul Ulama and the founder of the National Awakening Party (PKB), Wahid was the first elected president of Indonesia after the resignation of Suharto in 1998. Wahid was an advocate of interfaith dialogue and sat on the Board of World Religious Leaders for The Elijah Interfaith Institute.[74]

Djohan Effendi: (born October 1, 1939) is the former Secretary of State of Indonesia, serving the cabinet of President Abdurrahman Wahid.[75] He is known as a prominent liberal thinker of Islam in Indonesia. He is an advocate for Ahmadiyya movement and considered as a senior of Indonesian liberal Islamic activists. In Djohan's view, Ahmadis have the same right to practice their beliefs in Indonesia.[76]

Harun Nasution: (1919–1998) was an Indonesian scholar who described himself as a neo-Mutazilite, a modern follower of the medieval movement of the Mutazila. His work was part of a small but significant trend within Islamic thought to champion rationalist and humanist principles. Nasution's influence on his fellow Indonesia thinkers is significant. His fellow Indonesian thinker Nurcholish Madjid argues that Nasution was an important influence in the development of modern Indonesian religious thought, particularly through his influence on students at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University Jakarta.[77]

Nurcholish Madjid: (March 17, 1939 – August 29, 2005), in his homeland affectionately known as Cak Nur, was a prominent Indonesian Muslim intellectual. Early in his academic career, Nurcholish was a leader in various student organizations. He soon became well known as a proponent for modernization within Islam. Throughout his career he continued to argue that for Islam to be victorious in the global struggle of ideas, it needs to embrace the concepts of tolerance, democracy and pluralism. In the 1970s, Cak Nur coined the slogan: 'Islam, yes; Islamic parties, no', which became very popular. The slogan helped combat the view that it was sinful for Muslims to vote against Islamic parties.[78]

Ulil Abshar Abdalla: (born 11 January 1967) is an Orientalist scholar from Indonesia affiliated to Jaringan Islam Liberal (Liberal Islam Network), a group who claim to deliver a liberal interpretation of Islam. Due to his activism in this group, he gained praises, sometimes deemed as another reformer after Nurcholish Madjid, as well as controversies.

Iran

Abdolkarim Soroush: is an Iranian thinker, reformer, Rumi scholar and a former professor of philosophy at the University of Tehran and Imam Khomeini International University.[79] He is arguably the most influential figure in the religious intellectual movement of Iran. He was named by TIME as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2005, and by Prospect magazine as one of the most influential intellectuals in the world in 2008.[80] Soroush's ideas, founded on Relativism, prompted both supporters and critics to compare his role in reforming Islam to that of Martin Luther in reforming Christianity.[81][82]

Heshmatollah Tabarzadi: (born March 21, 1959) is an Iranian democratic activist. Tabarzadi has been arrested several times on charges related to his political activities, most recently in December 2009.[83] In October 2010, a court sentenced him to nine additional years in jail and 74 lashes, a sentence that was reduced to eight years on appeal. Tabarzadi served as the leader of the banned opposition group, the Democratic Front of Iran.[83] Tabarzadi was viewed by the government as one of the leaders of the student protests of July 9, 1999.[84] He was arrested and spent nine years in Evin Prison, including two in solitary confinement, for his activities as a student leader.[85]

Isa Saharkhiz: (born 1953) is an Iranian journalist, political figure, and former head of the press department at the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Education during former President Khatami's administration.[86] He is also a member of the central council of the Association for the Defense of Press Freedom in Iran.[87] He was arrested in July 2009 during the post-presidential-election crackdown and is currently serving a three-year sentence on charges of "insulting Iran's supreme leader" and "spreading propaganda against the regime."[87] According to his son Saharkhiz completed this three years prison in June 2012 and he is not released yet. Isa Saharkhiz was released on October 3, 2013 two months before the end of his sentence.

Kourosh Zaim: (born May 17, 1939) is an Iranian author, inventor, engineer, translator, and nonviolent political activist. He was born in Kashan, Iran, on May 17, 1939. A vocal advocate of secular democracy and human rights since youth, Kourosh rose to prominence as a political analyst[88] and Secretary to the Leadership Committee of Iran’s National Front party, or Jebhe Melli, Iran's largest pro-democracy political organization.[89] Membership in Jebhe Melli has been illegal since 1981.[90] As of 2017, Kourosh is incarcerated in Iran as a political prisoner. He was last arrested on July 16, 2016 for charges of "undermining the Islamic Republic" and "promoting anti-regime activity", and is currently serving a four-year prison term in Evin Prison,[91] the sixth time he has been imprisoned for his views since Iran's Islamic Revolution.[92][93]

Nasrin Sotoudeh: ( (1963-05-30) 30 May 1963 (age 58)) is a human rights lawyer in Iran. She has represented imprisoned Iranian opposition activists and politicians following the disputed June 2009 Iranian presidential elections as well as prisoners sentenced to death for crimes committed when they were minors.[94] Her clients have included journalist Isa Saharkhiz, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, and Heshmat Tabarzadi.[95] Sotoudeh was arrested in September 2010 on charges of spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security[94] and was imprisoned in solitary confinement in Evin Prison. Additionally, she has been barred from practicing law and from leaving the country for 20 years.[96][97] In mid-September 2011, an appeals court reduced Nasrin Sotoudeh's prison sentence to six years; her ban from working as a lawyer was reduced to ten years.[98]

Omid Memarian: (born 1974~) is an Iranian journalist and blogger. In 2013 he edited Sketches of Iran: A Glimpse from the Front Lines of Human Rights.[99] Since 2007, Memarian has taught training courses for journalists at the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) among other media organizations. Memarian was the editor of Volunteer Actors Quarterly which dealt with civil society issues.[100] On 10 October 2004, Memarian was arrested on the orders of the Tehran Prosecutor's Office's Ninth Chamber. He was detained for posting articles on several reformist newspapers, his blogs and online publications, and was charged with spreading a "dark picture of the country and stoking women's issues."[101] According to Human Rights Watch, Memarian and other journalists who had been detained were subjected to torture and solitary confinement.[102]

Shirin Ebadi: (born 21 June 1947) is an Iranian lawyer, a former judge and human rights activist and founder of Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran. On 10 October 2003, Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her significant and pioneering efforts for democracy and human rights, especially women's, children's, and refugee rights. She was the first Iranian and the first woman to receive the prize,[103] and thousands greeted her at the airport when she returned from Paris after receiving the news that she had won the prize. The response to the Award in Iran was mixed—enthusiastic supporters greeted her at the airport upon her return, the conservative media underplayed it, and then-Iranian President Mohammad Khatami criticized it as political.[104][105] In her book Iran Awakening, Ebadi explains her political/religious views on Islam, democracy and gender equality:

In the last 23 years, from the day I was stripped of my judgeship to the years of doing battle in the revolutionary courts of Tehran, I had repeated one refrain: an interpretation of Islam that is in harmony with equality and democracy is an authentic expression of faith. It is not religion that binds women, but the selective dictates of those who wish them cloistered. That belief, along with the conviction that change in Iran must come peacefully and from within, has underpinned my work."[106]

Iraq

Ahmed Al-Gubbanchi: is an Iraqi liberal Muslim intellectual, born in Najaf in 1958, who focuses on developing a "Civil Islam" which is consistent with human rights, justice and modern circumstances. He addresses the problems of traditional Islamic thought as he thinks that the literal interpretation of Quran leads to the incapability of Islam to get use of modern development and achievements, which leads, in turn, to the end of Islam. He sees every Islamic thought as a mere opinion on Islam and that the Islamic scripture had to comply with the historic situations of the ancient society of the prophet Mohammed, therefore it can not be considered literally. He considers Sharia alterable depending on the society, time and place, one of the evidence to support that is the Quran verses themselves whose orders have been changed at the time of the prophet which is called Naskh. He also translated many books of Abdolkarim Soroush into Arabic.

Malaysia

Zainah Anwar: is a prominent Malaysian non-governmental organisation leader, activist and Muslim feminist.[107] She was the head of Sisters in Islam for over two decades before stepping down. Through its fora and education programmes, SIS has shown that the concerns of Muslim women are "not the monopoly of religious scholars. Everyone has the right to speak". SIS has been at the forefront of NGOs influencing amendments to Islamic Family Law. It has espoused equality and justice for women, discussed dress and modesty, the right to guardianship, women as judges, fundamental liberties in Islam, and apostasy and freedom of religion.

Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto: (June 1953 – 27 December 2007) was a Pakistani politician who served as Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1996. She was the first woman to head a democratic government in a Muslim majority nation. Bhutto regarded herself as an ardent supporter of women's rights,Template:Sfn and took a hard stance against militant Islamism.Template:Sfn Although she had to compromise with Pakistan's powerful Islamist lobby, she favoured a secular government for the country.Template:Sfn Under Bhutto's leadership, the PPP was officially secular,Template:Sfn as were the governments which she led.Template:Sfn Bhutto described her main role model as Fatimah, the daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, stating that she admired her piety, wisdom, and courage.Template:Sfn She also described the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as a political inspiration.Template:Sfn

Fazlur Rahman Malik: (September 21, 1919 – July 26, 1988) was a Modernist scholar of Islam from South Asia. As an Islamic Modernist, Rahman disagreed to the notion that all and any interest on loans riba and a "curse", believing that only high-interest loans were riba, and in particularly that riba referred only to a particular type of interest charged in the time of Muhammad.

Malala Yousafzai: (born 1997) is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.[108][109][110] She is known for human rights advocacy, especially education of women in her native Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Her advocacy has since grown into an international movement. On the afternoon of 9 October 2012, Yousafzai was injured after a Taliban gunman attempted to murder her.[111] Since recovering, Yousafzai became a prominent education activist. Based out of Birmingham, she founded the Malala Fund, a non-profit[112] and in 2013 co-authored I am Malala, an international bestseller.[113] In 2014, she was announced as the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Kailash Satyarthi, for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Aged 17 at the time, she became the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.[114][115][116] On 12 July 2015, her 18th birthday, Yousafzai opened a school in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, near the Syrian border, for Syrian refugees. The school, funded by the not-for-profit Malala Fund, offers education and training to girls aged 14 to 18 years. Yousafzai called on world leaders to invest in "books, not bullets".[117][118]

Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri: (born 19 February 1951) is a Pakistani politician and Sunni Islamic scholar[119]. He was also a professor of international constitutional law at the University of the Punjab.[120] Qadri is also the founding chairman of Minhaj-ul-Quran International and also of Minhaj Institute of Qira'at and Tafizul Quran. Qadri has delivered more than 8000 lectures on various topics including radicalism[121] and has been given the honorific title Shaykh al-Islām.[122][123] The Fatwa on Terrorism and Suicide Bombings is a 600-page (Urdu version), 512-page (English version) Islamic decree by Qadri which demonstrates from the Quran and Sunnah that terrorism and suicide bombings are unjust and evil, and thus un-Islamic. It was published in London as a book.[124] This fatwa is a direct refutation of the ideology of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The fatwa received widespread media attention and was positively covered by the international press.[125]

Saudi Arabia

Raif Badawi: is a Saudi writer, dissident and activist, as well as the creator of the website Free Saudi Liberals. Badawi was arrested in 2012 on a charge of "insulting Islam through electronic channels" and brought to court on several charges, including apostasy. In 2013 he was convicted on several charges and sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. In 2014 his sentence was increased to 10 years in prison, 1000 lashes, and a fine. Following the 2012 arrest, Amnesty International designated Badawi a prisoner of conscience, "detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression", and said: "Even in Saudi Arabia where state repression is rife, it is beyond the pale to seek the death penalty for an activist whose only 'crime' was to enable social debate online".[126]

South Africa

Shamima Shaikh: (14 September 1960 – 8 January 1998) was South Africa's best known Muslim women's rights activist, notable Islamic feminist and journalist. She became the first National Co-ordinator of the Muslim Youth Movement Gender Desk, a position that again put her on the MYM’s National Executive. Under Shaikh's leadership, the MYM Gender Desk rapidly became the most outspoken Muslim organisation on the question of Muslim women's rights and gender within the Muslim community and the leading organisation in the South African articulation of Islamic feminism.

Sudan

Fatima Ahmed Ibrahim: (born 1933) is a Sudanese writer, women rights activist and Socialist leader.[127] After she started at Omdurman Girls' Secondary School she began to support women's rights. In 1954 Fatima joined the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), and for a short period Fatima became a member of the Central Committee of the SCP (the SCP was the first Sudanese Party which had an internal women's structure, since 1946). In 1990 Fatima left Sudan after the Omar Hassan al-Bashir military coup, and joined the opposition in exile as the President of the banned Sudanese Women's Union. In 1991 Fatima was elected President of the Women's International Democratic Federation. She returned to Sudan in 2005 after a reconciliation between the government and opposition, and was appointed as a deputy in the parliament representing the SCP. Her brother is also a writer and involved in politics Salah Ahmed Ibrahim.[128]

Mahmoud Mohammed Taha: (1909 – 18 January 1985) was a Sudanese religious thinker, leader, and trained engineer. He developed what he called the "Second Message of Islam", which postulated that the verses of the Qur'an revealed in Medina were appropriate in their time as the basis of Islamic law, (Sharia), but that the verses revealed in Mecca represented the ideal religion, would be revived when humanity had reached a stage of development capable of accepting them, ushering in a renewed Islam based on freedom and equality.[129] He was executed for apostasy for his religious preaching at the age of 76 by the regime of Gaafar Nimeiry.[130][131]

Salah Ahmed Ibrahim: (1933-1993) was a Sudanese writer, poet and diplomat. Salah Ibrahim was described in 1963 as the most important Sudanese poet of his generation, and that: "in his poetry there is all the yearning, all the frustration of his generation. He writes his poetry with miraculous ease and beauty."[132] Ibrahim was also noted for his socialist realist fiction, of which he was a notable proponent.[133]

Salih Mahmoud Osman: is a Sudanese human rights lawyer. Osman is well known for having provided free legal representation to hundreds of victims of ethnic violence in Sudan over more than two decades. He has been widely honored for his work on human rights issues in Sudan, receiving the Human Rights Watch award in 2005, the International Human Rights Award from the American Bar Association in 2006, and was included in European Voices 50 most influential persons in Europe in 2007. Also in 2007 the European Parliament voted unanimously to award him the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

Sweden

Siavosh Derakhti: (born July 3, 1991) is an Iranian-Swedish social activist. In recognition of his activism to reduce antisemitism and xenophobia, the government of Sweden presented him in 2013 with the Raoul Wallenberg Award. The selection committee said Derakhti set a "positive example" in his hometown of Malmö and throughout Sweden. "He is a role model for others," the Wallenberg Award committee wrote, "showing through his actions and determination that one person can make a difference."[134][135][136]

Syria

Ali Farzat: (born 22 June 1951) is a Syrian political cartoonist. He has published more than 15,000 caricatures between Syrian, Arab and international newspapers.[137] He serves as the head of the Arab Cartoonists' Association. In 2011 he received Sakharov Prize for peace.[138] Farzat was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2012.[139] Farzat's drawings criticized bureaucracy, corruption and hypocrisy within the government and the wealthy elite. His drawings, typically without captions, are noted for their scathing criticism and for depicting types rather than individuals.[137] However, since the uprising in Syria began Farzat has been more direct in his caricatures, depicting actual figures including the President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad.[140]

Bassma Kodmani: (born 29 April 1958) is a Syrian Muslim academic and former spokesperson of the Syrian National Council. She is the Executive Director of the Arab Reform Initiative, a network of independent Arab research and policy institutes working to promote democracy in the Arab world.[141][142][143] She is affiliated to the National Bloc.[144][145]

Tunisia

Naziha Réjiba: is a Tunisian journalist.[146] In 2000, Réjiba co-founded Kalima, along with Sihem Bensedrine. In 2001, Réjiba and Bensedrine founded Observatoire de la Liberté de la Presse, de L'Edition et de la Création (OLPEC), a group that promotes freedom of the press and which was banned in Tunisia.[146] In 2009, Réjiba won an International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists.[147]

United Kingdom

Maajid Nawaz: (born 2 November 1977) is a British activist, author, columnist, radio host and politician. He was the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for London's Hampstead and Kilburn constituency in the 2015 general election.[148] He is also the founding chairman of Quilliam, a counter-extremism think tank that seeks to challenge the narratives of Islamist extremists.[149]

Sadiq Aman Khan: is a Muslim British politician and the current Mayor of London since 2016. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tooting from 2005 to 2016. A member of the Labour Party, he is situated on the party's soft left and has been ideologically characterised as a social democrat and social liberal,[150][151][152][153] and Khan has self-described as a "proud feminist".[153] While fasting for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in 2016, Khan declared that he would use the period as an opportunity to hel "break down the mystique and suspicion" surrounding Islam in Britain and help to "get out there and build bridges" between communities, organising iftars to be held at synagogues, churches, and mosques.[154][155] He then appeared at a Trafalgar Square celebration of Eid al-Fitr, endorsing religious freedom and lambasting "criminals who do bad things and use the name of Islam to justify what they do".[152] Following the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, Khan attended a vigil in Old Compton Street, Soho, and insisted that he would "will do everything in [his] power to ensure that LGBT Londoners feel safe in every part of our city";[156] later that month he marched in the LGBT Pride London parade.[157]

United States

Amina Wadud: (born September 25, 1952) is an American Muslim woman with a progressive focus on Qur'anic exegesis. Wadud has spoken at universities, as well as grassroots, government and non-government forums throughout the world. Her speaking engagements include the Regional Conference on Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Muslim Societies, hosted by United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and a lecture on “Tawhid and Spiritual Development for Social Action” at Muslims for Progressive Values at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California in July 2011. Wadud has also openly advocated "pluralism" and "equality" as an endorsement of a LGBT rights.[158][159]

Asra Nomani: is an India-born American activist and writer who taught journalism at Georgetown University. She has defied literalist interpretations of Islam that segregate women from men in prayers at mosques, and was a lead organizer of the woman-led Muslim prayer in New York City on March 18, 2005, which has been described as "the first mixed-gender prayer on record led by a Muslim woman in 1,400 years."[160] Various mixed-gender prayers have been led privately by a Muslim woman, including a 1997 funeral prayer led by a South African Muslim feminist Shamima Shaikh.[161]

Daayiee Abdullah: (born 1954)[162][163] is an African American, gay Imam in Washington, D.C.[162][164][165] Abdullah is said to be one of three openly gay Imams in the world (the others being Template:Interlanguage link multi of South Africa and Ludovic Mohamed-Zahed of France)[166][167][168][169] Abdullah is the imam and religious director of Masjid An-Nur Al-Isslaah (English: "Mosque for Enlightenment and Reformation" or "Light of Reform Mosque"), an LGBT-welcoming mosque.[170] He is on the Advisory Board of Muslims for Progressive Values.[171]

Edip Yüksel: (born December 20, 1957 in Norşin, Turkey) is a Kurdish American intellectual considered one of the prime figures in the modern Islamic reform and Quranism (Quraniyoon) movements. Author of many books on the Qur'an and Islam, he has gained much attention through his works and speeches.[172][173][174] His main aim, as stated throughout his writings, is to spread an Islamic understanding that is rational, progressive, and humanistic, which in his eyes can only be gained through accepting the Qur'an as the only Divine authority.[175] He is also a promoter of Theistic evolution, an understanding he gets from science and the Qur'an, instead of Creationism.[176] Specifically, Yüksel is critical of Islamic creationists such as Harun Yahya.[177]

Faisal Alam: is a gay Pakistani American who founded the Al-Fatiha Foundation, an organization dedicated to advancing the cause of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Muslims.[178] In 2013, the Queer Muslim Working Group launched a new organization: the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity (MASGD).[179] He is a former member of the Advisory Committee of the LGBT Program at Human Rights Watch.[180]

Khaled Abou El Fadl: (born 1963 in Kuwait) is the Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law. He is also the Chair of the Islamic Studies Program at the University of California, Los Angeles.[181] Abou El Fadl believes that the usuli tradition "naturally leads Islam" to an ethical humanism, or a set of ideas about justice and beauty that help to achieve God's will.[182] He has criticized puritanical and Wahhabi Islam[183] for among other things its disinterest in morality, which the Wahhabis argue "shouldn't affect the implementation of Koranic law."[182] He would like to return to the "Golden Age of Islam where "numerous traditions" emphasized the "pursuit of knowledge is an act of permanent worship", and to abandon the current state of affairs where "rampant apologetics" of Muslim thinkers has "produced a culture that eschews self-critical and introspective insight and embraces projection of blame and a fantasy-like level of confidence and arrogance."[182]

Linda Sarsour: is a Palestinian-American political activist and former executive director of the Arab American Association of New York. She was one of the organizers of the 2017 Women's March. Sarsour's early activism included defending the civil rights of Muslim Americans following the September 11 attacks of 2001.Template:Refn Sarsour has gained attention for protesting the police surveillance of Muslim Americans.Template:Refn[184] Sarsour became a regular attendee at Black Lives Matter demonstrations as well as a frequent television commentator on feminism.[185] According to Eli Rosenberg of the New York Times, Sarsour "has tackled issues like immigration policy, mass incarceration, stop-and-frisk and the New York Police Department’s spying operation on Muslims — all of which have largely inured her to hate-tinged criticism."[186] Sarsour's activism has drawn praise from liberal politicians and activists.[187] In 2012, during the presidency of Barack Obama, the White House recognized Sarsour as a "champion of change".Template:Refn After President Donald Trump took office, the White House removed the mention of Sarsour from its website.Template:Refn

Mona Eltahawy: (born August 1, 1967) is a freelance Egyptian-American journalist and commentator based in New York City. She has written essays and op-eds for publications worldwide on Egypt and the Islamic world, including women's issues and Muslim political and social affairs. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, and the Miami Herald among others. Headscarves and Hymens, Eltahawy's first book, was published in May 2015. Eltahawy has also been a guest analyst on U.S. radio and television news shows. Eltahawy has also spoken publicly at universities, panel discussions and interfaith gatherings on human rights and reform in the Islamic world, feminism and Egyptian Muslim–Christian relations in addition to her other concerns.

Qasim Rashid: (born July 21, 1982) is a human rights activist and advocate of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in America. He is an attorney and graduate of the Richmond School of Law.[188] He has authored two books, The Wrong Kind of Muslim and Extremist: A Response to Geert Wilders & Terrorists Everywhere, and has co-authored and co-edited two books, Towards a Greater Jihad and By the Dawn's Early Light.

Rabia Chaudry: is an attorney and a writer. She attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the George Mason University School of Law.[189] She has been a fellow at the US Institute of Peace and at the New America Foundation.[190] She is founder and president of the Safe Nation Collaborative, a project that offers education on Islamic faith, dialogue between law enforcement and Muslim communities, and countering violent extremism.[189]

Reza Aslan: (born May 3, 1972) is an Iranian-American author, public intellectual, religious studies scholar, producer, and television host. In a 2013 interview with WNYC host Brian Lehrer, Aslan said: "I'm definitely a Muslim and Sufism is the tradition within Islam that I most closely adhere to."[191] He also proclaims himself a "genuinely committed disciple of Jesus of Nazareth."[192] In a 2013 article in the Washington Post, Aslan states: "It's not [that] I think Islam is correct and Christianity is incorrect. It's that all religions are nothing more than a language made up of symbols and metaphors to help an individual explain faith."[193] In 2014, in an interview with Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, Aslan described Islam as:

a man-made institution. It's a set of symbols and metaphors that provides a language for which to express what is inexpressible, and that is faith. It's symbols and metaphors that I prefer, but it's not more right or more wrong than any other symbols and metaphors. It's a language, that's all it is.[194]

Yemen

Amat Al Alim Alsoswa: (August 27, 1958) is a Yemeni journalist and politician for the Yemeni Socialist Party. From 1989 to 1991, Alsoswa led the Yemeni Women's Union before Yemeni unification.[195] Alsoswa has written and spoken on women's rights and democracy. She has been an activist for Human Rights in general and freedom of expression in particular. Alsoswa asserts that in order for women to fight against discrimination in Arab countries, older traditions of interpretations of Islamic texts which were once more favorable to women must be revived, girls need equal access to education and recognizing women's contributions to the family and society as important and valuable are necessary for change.[196] She also stresses that "even against immense odds, women remain catalysts for reform in Arab countries."[196]

Ramziya al-Iryani: (1954 – November 14, 2013) was a pioneering Yemeni novelist, writer, diplomat and feminist. She was head of the Yemeni Women's Union (YWU) and was a board member of the Arab Family Organization.[197] In her political work, she was a tireless supporter of feminism in Yemen and encouraged women to run for political office.[198] Al-Iryani's writing addresses gender issues in a predominantly patriarchal, Islamic society.[199] She also writes about the importance of education for women in an Arab society.[200] Other themes in her work include Yemeni political struggles of the day.[201] Al-Iryani started publishing when still in her teens. Her novel Ḍaḥīyat al-Jashaʿ (The Victim of Greed), published in 1970, is considered to be the first novel by a Yemeni woman.[202][203]

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