William Fisher, who “has managed economic development programs in the Middle East for the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development,” writes this in “Progressive Islam, or how to accept it’s time to start a-changin,'” in Lebanon’s Daily Star (thanks to Mackie):
In the United States there is an impression that no internal struggle exists within Islam between reformers and more rigid conservatives. The truth is, however, that such an internal debate, centering on how to interpret the Koran, has been going on for centuries. It is also true that today the debate has risen to a new level, fueled by the emergence of a small but rapidly growing branch of the faith known as Progressive Islam.
Great news, Mr. Fisher! And who is the foremost exponent of this Progressive Islam? Why, none other than my man Omid Safi, the egregiously haughty prof who does his students’ thinking for him by smearing whole classes of scholars and researchers as “Islamophobes”:
What is Progressive Islam, where is it, what does it believe? Long before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, many Muslim spokesmen realized there was a growing, worldwide network of Muslim terrorists killing in the name of God. They also knew that the rights of women and non-Muslims were being routinely denied by Islamic regimes, such as the one in Saudi Arabia.
“We have our fanatics just like everyone else,” says Omid Safi, the co-chair of the Study of Islam section at the American Academy of Religion, and a professor of philosophy and religion at Colgate University. Safi was one of the co-founders of the Progressive Muslim Union, which was launched in 2004. “We have to take a stand against Saudi-infected extremism,” insists Safi. Many American Muslim communities, he adds, “are far too uncritical of Salafi and Wahhabi tendencies.”
Yes, Omid, and why is that? If you aren’t still afraid to debate me, I’d be happy to discuss it with you at Colgate.
He and other progressives believe that unless these radical tendencies are defeated, “the humanity of Muslims will be reduced to the caricature of violent zealots painted by fanatics from both inside and outside the Muslim community. It is time to start a-changin’,” he says, borrowing from the lyrics of a famous Bob Dylan song.
Bob also said, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” It is the jihadists who have the intellectual initiative within Islam at this point, and folks like Safi aren’t helping by spending their time smearing people who are resisting them. If Omid Safi is Exhibit A of this marvelous new Progressive Islam, I will remain skeptical, thanks.