Resources on Liberal Islam?
January 27, 2012 7:34 AM   Subscribe

I need help finding resources on moderate or liberal Islam. This is for a new fiction project and I want to be sure to be as respectful as possible.

I'm a professional creator. The new book will be nationally distributed. I realize that there is always going to be someone who will get offended, but I'm trying to keep it on the low side.

The character's religion isn't the focal point of the book at all, but the character is one of the protagonists. In fact, I will specifically avoiding directly addressing the topic- The character is a person who happens to be a Muslim, it is not a "Muslim Character". I need enough information to get a feel for things that would be totally out of line- I don't want to accidentally write a scene with the kid being drunk and eating a pork sandwich on a friday night at the mall, get me?

Specifically I want more about counter-culture kids/adults who are still somewhat religious. Taqwacore blogs aren't really doing it, and they seem to be petering out. I don't feel like I have enough of an understanding of basic principles or fundamental differences in interpretation to write a character who lives their life informed by their religion.

I get that there are a zillion ways that people practice Islam and that that country of origin is a big deal- American Muslim kids with parents from Indonesia are going to be very different culturally from British kids with grandparents from Spain. More Info, more better.

Books, blogs, websites, NYC local resources all would be good. Especially resources that are talking to an audience that doesn't have much of a foundation with the religion in the first place.

What I don't want to hear is that I shouldn't write this character at all- if we only wrote about what we had personal experiences with, all my characters would thirty-year-old white atheist women living in Brooklyn.
posted by Blisterlips to Religion & Philosophy (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
"Beyond Faith" by V.S. Naipul is an observation on how Islam influences the cultures where it has been adopted. It is also a good read.
posted by three blind mice at 7:44 AM on January 27, 2012

Wikipedia has an article on Liberal movements within Islam.

Sufism is a fairly broad tradition in Islam, transcending the Sunni/Shia divide, and is more-or-less synonymous with Islamic mysticism. It isn't really an analog to liberal theology in Christianity, and it's been around for a long time, but I get the impression that the kind of character you're talking about might actually be a Sufi of some description or other. There are actually Sufis who aren't Muslims at all.
posted by valkyryn at 8:02 AM on January 27, 2012

posted by empath at 8:12 AM on January 27, 2012

There's actually a book called Liberal Islam - A Source Book, but it might be more academic than you need.

One of the characters in Elif Shafak's The Bastard of Istanbul is a tattoo artist living in Istanbul and it gave a sense of the daily life of someone who was part of the counterculture and is not particularly devout but whose life is influenced by Islam.

You might also want to just look for blogs by people who are Muslims but happen to be blogging about other things. Reddit appears to have a sub-Reddit about Islam, including this thread pondering whether it is haram to eat the virtual porkchops in Minecraft. :)
posted by bbq_ribs at 8:34 AM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

You might try checking out the Islamic Society of Boston.

And if you're in the Boston area, they host Islam 101 seminars/classes for free to the general public. (I've been wanting to go to one to learn more than I do about Islam, actually.)

If not, I'm sure someone associated would be willing to speak with you by phone.
posted by zizzle at 9:23 AM on January 27, 2012

It's a silly little comedy, but Little Mosque on the Prairie does a pretty good job at showing liberal Muslim characters, albeit within the context of small town Canada.
posted by asnider at 11:23 AM on January 27, 2012

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