Islam contains a greater plurality of theology than is often realised. Here two “alternative voices” are chosen as examples of how cultural accretions can be questioned to what is taken to be the original, pure voice of Islam. Amina Wadud has led a mixed congregation in prayer in New York and has demonstrated, not without opposition, that women can be imams. There follows a discussion of the historical debate about women as imams and reactions to Wadud’s actions. The second voice is Hasan Askari, an Indian Muslim who has written widely on inter-faith dialogue. He maintains that to reduce differences between Judaism, Christianity and Islam, differences should be interpreted symbolically rather than literally. He questions all claims to finality in any religion and he believes that historical Islam has yet to be transformed to “universal Islam”. Religious differences can only be finally transcended at a level of mystical experience.
Citation: Calderini, S. (2008). Islam and diversity: Alternative voices within contemporary Islam. New Blackfriars, 89(1021), 324-336.