What is “Muslim Reform Movement”?
It is a religious fellowship started by a group of progressive minded Muslims united in their concern that, as the human society has evolved over the centuries with expansion of knowledge and interactions between cultures, there has developed a great need to restate the Quranic ideals and principles in terms that are relevant to the contemporary world. In doing so we seek to revitalize Islam as a viable and global religion whose guiding principles and ideals remain effective in addressing mankind’s needs for all times, irrespective of mankind’s cultural and societal circumstances.
Why the word “Reform”?
Reform is not a new concept in Islam. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself was a reformist who restated the eternal message of “Islam” as it was revealed to previous “Muslim” prophets in the Psalms, Torah, and Bible, in terms that were relevant to the seventh century society and it’s cultural practices. In “reforming our lives”, we wish to re-apply Islam’s eternal message to our modern lives to become better Muslims.
But what is wrong with the “traditional” method of studying Islam?
We at MRMO believe that the traditional methods of studying the Quran limit our understanding of it’s ideals and principles as they applied to the seventh century lifestyles, thereby promoting obscurantist (backward looking) tendencies in our modern Muslim lives. This has created a great deal of conflict, especially in the minds of our youth many of whom, in trying to hold on to anachronistic (outdated) Muslim lifestyles, have developed dual personalities to cope with the resulting cultural conflicts and have lost their inner “peace in surrender”. This, we believe, was not the Noble intention of God! Islam’s message transcends all cultures and all times, and will remain as applicable ten thousand years from now and beyond, as it was fifteen hundred years ago!
What about Sunnah and Hadith (prophet’s lifestyle and his sayings)?
Prophet’s (PBUH) actions and his sayings were effective in the context of his society as he emancipated and uplifted his people, thereby promoting the Quranic ideals and principles. Therefore, as a reformist, he is our role model. But it is God the Creator, who deserves our primary focus and worship, and whose words in the Quran we need to understand and follow, in order to achieve peace within us, to attain communal harmony, and to contribute to the welfare and upliftment of the society around us. That, we believe, is the purpose and the basic message of Islam.
What do you mean by: “revelation is a continuous process?
Quran declares revelation to be the universal property of all life. Nothing moves without God’s will! (‘Allah created out of water every creature………..Allah createth what He will. Behold, Allah is over all things all-determining’. Q.24:45). And God’s will is communicated to His creation in the form of revelations. (“It is not fitting for a man that God should speak to him except by inspiration, or from behind a veil, or by the sending of a Messenger, to reveal with God’s permission, what God wills: for He is most High Most Wise!” Q.42:51). Thus the process of revelation occurs in one of three forms:
A: Through inspiration,
B: From behind a veil,
C: Through a Messenger (i.e. Gabriel).
A: Through inspiration: This form of “inspirational revelation” is available to all mankind. It came with the divine gift of reasoning conferred upon mankind when mankind accepted the challenge of free will, and “the heavens and the earth and the mountains demurred” (Q.33:72). This divine gift gives mankind the right to ask questions of metaphysical and metacosmical nature during his/her introspective reflections, and expect answers! God will never put a burden on mankind without providing it with the means to handle it! Many a scientists and holy men have been inspired by a “higher being” and have affected great accomplishments in the service of humanity. It has been said about Einstein that he was inspired by God and the vastness of the universe and guided by this internal light and following his intuitions, was able to come up with his world famous thesis. A popular term to describe such a phenomenon of “inspirational revelation” will be “ilhaam” or intuition. “Inspirational revelations” cannot claim divine authorship, and they may or may not be true.
B: From behind a veil: veil being all the objects of sense-perception surrounding our temporal world that can create optical illusions, which affect our perception of the Ultimate Reality. This form of revelation occurs to highly spiritual, God-conscious and pious, human beings as a result of a great deal of introspective reflections, meditations or after long periods of “Tahhajud” (mid-night till pre-dawn hours) prayers performed with great deal of “Khushuu” (intense concentration). Many mystical experiences have been attributed to such an “unveiling”. In popular terminology this particular form of “unveiling revelation” also fits in the category of “ilhaam” (intuition). “Unveiling revelations” cannot claim divine authorship either, and they may or may not be true.
C: Prophetic Revelation: These Revelations have divine authorship, therefore they contain nothing but the truth, and they happen to prophets only. Last such Revelations were received by prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and have been compiled by his companions, as per his instructions, in the book form called, The Holy Quran. In claiming the finality over such Revelations, (of divine origin), Quran declares a challenge to the thinking and reasoning mankind to continue the journey on it’s own, of probing and discovering the depths of the worlds within and without, exploring the microcosm and the macrocosm, thereby cultivating and nurturing a consciousness that, when fully realized, would make mankind worthy of being God’s “khalifa” (vicegerent) on earth!
It is clear from the above commentary how vital a role all revelations (inspirational revelations, unveiling revelations, and prophetic or divine Revelations) play in the development and maturation of human intellect and consciousness. Unfortunately, throughout history, many a holy and pious people have been persecuted for claiming to have been divinely inspired and any discussions of metaphysical approaches toward religion have been discouraged and shunned. As a result Muslims are becoming devoid of spirituality, are extremely intolerant and judgmental, and God has become a force outside of us and very distant, (even though Quran categorically declares that we have God’s spirit within us and are therefore capable of cultivating all His divine attributes, and that God is closer to us than our jugular and knows all!). We at MRMO believe that if a humble bee can be a recipient of revelations, then as an “Ashraf-ul-Makhluqaat” (crown of the creation), mankind is definitely not cut off from this source of guidance. Whether through meditating over Quran’s verses, or through God conscious acts of charity and piety, or whether through living truly in the spirit of Islam, God does answer mankind’s prayers and send us signals. To decode these signals that Quran calls “Ayat-allah” (signs of God), one needs a clean and loving heart (he who has not loved, does not know God), and a God conscious mind (la illaha ill-lullah), which has intelligence (mandating every Muslim man and woman to develop his/her intellect) and therefore is capable of reflection (between heavens and earth are signs for those who reflect). For that is a promise made to mankind by none other than Allah SWT himself! If we take one step towards God, God takes ten steps towards us, if we walk towards Him, He will run towards us!!
How do I become a member?
Before you become a member, we would like you to get to know us first. If you consider yourself a progressive Muslim we encourage you to participate in our weekly meetings. After attending eight meetings you can apply for provisional membership. The application has to be approved by the MRMO Board of Trustees.
A provisional member must be at least eighteen years of age and must agree in writing to adhere to the manifesto of MRMO.
After one year of provisional membership you are eligible to become a voting member of MRMO.
Membership of MRMO does not preclude membership in other religious or secular organizations. However, in order to be an office holder in MRMO, you may not hold a position in another religious organization in a policy-making capacity.