MSNBC has a story called “Battling for gay rights, in Allah’s name” where we read about a new form of Islam – I would call it “Reform Islam” – that renounces violence, strives for equality of the sexes and accepts homosexuality. The co-founder of the movement, Ani Zonneveld, has taken a lot of heat from other Muslims for her liberal views. In describing the roots of her activism, Zonneveld says:
… her activism grew out of frustration with other American Muslims for being either too willing to accept the word of conservative imams or unwilling to speak out.
“If there is a homophobic sermon at Friday prayer … nobody would stand up and say, ‘I’m sorry that’s an appalling sermon,’” said Zonneveld. “But I can’t sit with a community where it is acceptable to be homophobic …. How can you just let it slide?”
Muslims for Progressive Values is intended to provide a space to worship and a voice to Muslims who don’t necessarily agree with American Muslim leaders often seen as speaking for the entire flock.
Zonneveld, a lifelong Muslim, spent part of her childhood in Germany and Egypt, then attended college in Illinois. She became a professional singer and songwriter and now works with well-known artists, including include blues singer Keb’Mo and Melissa Manchester. Her husband is from Holland and their 13-year-old daughter goes to a public school.
Since I am not an expert on Islam, I can only wonder if her views can legitimately be called “Islam” or if they might better be described as some other religion. I also wonder if she truly believes Islamic scripture or if she is simply using religion as a vehicle for a social movement. Of course, even she may not know the real answer to that question. Is this movement a natural development that goes hand in hand with the Christian Reformation and Reform Judaism – or is it being supported through our tax dollars by a government that is eager to mitigate the dangers of militant Islam? Is it a positive development that can declaw a dangerous ideology, or will this kinder and gentler Islam lure more people into a faith that is the nemesis of Western civilization? If this Reform Islam ends up being anything like Protestantism or Reform Judaism, it will simply give people more options in life while still being able to call themselves “Muslim”. For the time being, it appears to be a fringe movement with only a few followers.
Frankly, I would think that Mrs. Zonneveld is in danger of having a fatwa declared on her. She seems to be a brave woman.