Dear Omid (Safi)
Lately I have found the environment with Progressive Muslims Union extremely oppressive, abusive and hateful. I have found both PMU and MWU extremely intolerant of difference and disagreement. This is the only Muslim group where people who believe in the teachings of the Quran are ridiculed and those who express ambivalence about it even about the existence of God are celebrated.
But lately the culture of takfir and the absolutely lack of basic adab and simple etiquette that is becoming a defining characteristic of PMU has become suffocating.I have been extremely critical of many Muslim organizations, specially ISNA, AMSS and CAIR organizations that are routinely ridiculed by PMU members who feel that they are morally superior to all Muslims -- both in private and in writing but have never, ever been abused by any of them and most importantly never ever been made to feel that I do not belong.
It should not be a great loss to PMU. Even though I was member of the advisory board for a year, I was never consulted even once on any of its decisions. The advisory board never met even once and we never even had a single meeting with the executive committee. It is a sham anyway.
My close interaction with PMU has taught me three things, (1) that clearly I am not sufficiently indifferent to the teachings of Quran and the traditions of the Islamic heritage to be a "good Progressive Muslim"; (2) I was too gullible to believe in its empty claims of openness and tolerance for different perspectives. And (3) I have also learned that I am completely opposite in nature to most of the members of PMU. For example I believe that a rational argument precedes the moral judgment.
PMU is operating with a set of moral principles randomly acquired from Marxism and/or postmodern cultural trends and is treating them as absolutely moral truths, and are now looking for arguments [hopefully with some Islamic content] to justify them. PMU members unleash fanatical rage when this is questioned and resort to abuse, distortion, false accusations as a substitute to argument.
I can understand, sympathize and participate in exercises of Ijtihad that seek to reassess "human understanding" of Islam. I have been advocating this for over a decade. My website Ijtihad was launched in 1999. But not to observe Islamic values after recognizing them as such to me is a sin. I cannot for example in good conscience approve of alcohol consumption by those who acknowledge it as forbidden. To demand that I do so in order to remain a member of the community is exactly the kind of oppression that I though we had come together to fight.
I have been very prolific in presenting my views and opinions on myriad things Islamic or otherwise and hence there is very little about my politics that can be claimed to remain unknown. So when PMU invited me to join the advisory board, it was with full knowledge of my positions, so why the uproar now over my refusal to toe the party line. I have never, ever, hesitated from expressing my views and dissenting with any majority in every organization that I have worked with. But, the extent of intolerance that I have experienced from members of PMU has been shockingly unexpected and unprecedented. I have come to this sad realization that PMU's moral claims on social justice and tolerance and the "big tent approach" are shallow and indeed false. PMU is just another organization as intolerant and closed as any in our society.
Please liberate me from the oppressive and intolerant culture of PMU and accept my resignation from the advisory board with immediate effect.
Your Brother in IslamMuqtedar KhanM. A. Muqtedar Khan, Ph.D.
Director of International StudiesChair, Political Science Department, Adrian CollegeNon-Resident Fellow, Brookings InstitutionTel: 517-264-3949URL: http://www.glocaleye.orgURL: http://www.ijtihad.org