Netherlands: New site for critical self-reflection on Islam

Netherlands: New site for critical self-reflection on Islam

A group of Islamic 'contemporary thinkers' launched a new website today in order to develop 'critical (self)-reflection' in the Muslim communities in the Netherlands.

The Nieuwemoskee site [New Mosque] wants to break down rigid ideas about Islam and add depth to the fierce, but mostly oversimplified, Islam debate.

This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog -

Reflections about the difficulty of Islam to nestle in Western society are often due to simplicity, according to the founders. In Islamic circles you often hear argument such as 'they understand Islam wrongly'. Or 'We Muslims aren't doing good, but Islam is perfect." While Islam-critics rigorously bring up old filth about the religion, in their view, Islam is the problem.

"With a comment like 'you don't understand Islam well' you kill any discussion," says Ceylan Pektas-Weber, one of the four editors of Nieuwemoskee. "We're looking for fresh, new arguments that you won't read in newspapers, and that you don't hear in the political debate."

Pektas-Weber, former chairman of the Islamic women's organization Al Nisa, says that one example of 'a new way of thinking' is discussions with the Pakistani-American Muslim feminist Asma Barlas. She's the author of 'Believing Women in Islam', in which she focuses on a patriarchal exegesis of the Koran. "Barlas says, for example, that the fact that during Revelation a patriarchal society is assumed, doesn't automatically mean that male domination should remain part of Islam," says Pektas-Weber, independent consultant and publicist in the field of emancipation and Islam.

The other editors, all Muslims, are Kamel Essabane, Arnold Yasin Mol and Rashied Alibux. Essabane works as a municipal engineer and studies philosophy and religion in modern society. Mol, who converted to Islam when he was 20, is co-founder of the international Islamic think-tank Deen Research Center (DRC) and has solid theological schooling. Alibux is former editor of the Islamic broadcaster NMO. Science, environment, identity, philosophy and criticism of religion are some of the main subjects that will be dealt with on the site.

In the future there will be a blog team, to which non-Muslims will also be invited. Contributions of Islam-critics are welcome. Even from PVV leader Geert Wilders. Pektas-Weber: "There is a condition though that his piece will be built on arguments that comply with our criteria, that in addition to being critical, will also refreshing."

The name of the site goes back to the earliest period of Islam, when the mosque, besides being a place for prayer, was also a place where Muslims (men and women) met to discuss various ideas, problems and concerns. According to the founders, there were also regular discussions with non-Muslims and ambassadors from various cultures were received. They hope that the Nieuwemoskee will develop into such a platform, in modern clothing.

Source: Volkskrant (Dutch)

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