From Khaled Abou El Fadl, "The Ugly Modern and the Modern Ugly", in Progressive Muslims:  On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism, Omid Safi, ed. (Oxford:  Oneworld Publications, 2003), pp. 33-77.


Confronted by extreme acts of ugliness, there is no alternative for a Muslim, who is interested in reclaiming the moral authority of Islam, but to confront the quintessential questions of: Is this Islam?  Can this be Islam?  And, should this be Islam?  It is simply too easy to shirk off responsibility for extreme acts of ugliness to Western imperialism, and colonialism, to engage in the morally evasive strategy of complaining about false universals, and to blame everything and everyone else, but refuse a confrontation with oneís own conscience.  With every major human tragedy committed in the name of Islam, I think that it is imperative for every Muslim to put aside, for a while, the various intellectual methods by which responsibility is projected, transferred, diluted, and distributed, and to engage in a conscientious pause.  In this pause, a Muslim ought to critically evaluate the prevailing systems of belief within Islam, and reflect upon the ways that these systems of belief might have contributed to, legitimated, or in any way facilitated the tragedy.  In my view, this is the only way for a Muslim to honor human life, dignify Godís creation, and uphold the integrity of the Islamic religion. 


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