This is a list of individual liberal and progressive Islamic movements in Europe, sorted by country. See also Islam in Europe and Euroislam.


Democratic Muslims

Naser Khader, one of the founders of Democratic Muslims
Naser Khader, one of the founders of Democratic Muslims

Democratic Muslims is a political organization in Denmark founded by Naser Khader, Yildiz Akdogan and other Muslims in February 2006 after the escalation of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy. Its goal is a peaceful co-existence of Islam and democracy.[1] Naser Khader left his position as leader in 2007. In 2009 and 2011, it was reported that the organization had few members and little activity.[2][3]


In June 2017, female human attorney, author and human rights activist Seyran Ateş opened the Ibn Ruschd-Goethe mosque in Berlin in which worshippers of all Islamic sects and homosexuals were welcome to worship. Men and women pray together unlike in other mosques while face-covering veils such as burqas and niqab were banned on the premises[4] as such garments are by Ateş considered political statements rather than religious clothing.[5] This caused outrage in the Muslim world and the founder of the mosque received hundreds of death threats from Muslims across the world.[6] The legal department of Al-Azhar University in Egypt issued a fatwa[clarification needed] against the mosque along with all other liberal mosques.[7][8]


Main article: Ahmed Aboutaleb


Ittifaq al-Muslimin

Main article: Ittifaq al-Muslimin


The Jadids were Muslim modernist reformers within the Russian Empire in the late 19th and early 20th century. They normally referred to themselves by the Turkic terms Taraqqiparvarlar ('progressives'), Ziyalilar ('intellectuals'), or simply Yäşlär/Yoshlar ('youth').[9] Jadids maintained that Muslims in the Russian Empire had entered a period of decay that could only be rectified by the acquisition of a new kind of knowledge and modernist, European-modeled cultural reform. Although there were substantial ideological differences within the movement, Jadids were marked by their widespread use of print media in promoting their messages and advocacy of the usul ul-jadid[10] or "new method" of teaching in the maktabs of the empire, from which the term Jadidism is derived. A leading figure in the efforts to reform education was the Crimean Tatar Ismail Gasprinski who lived from 1851–1914. Intellectuals such as Mahmud Khoja (author of the famous play "The Patricide" and founder of one of Turkestan's first Jadid schools) carried Gaspirali's ideas back to Central Asia.[11]


Young People Against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia

I wanted to build bridges between Jews and Muslims in Malmö because antisemitism is a problem in the city. After that I realised how great the need was to talk about this. Now I work to combat all kinds of xenophobia. — Siavosh Derakhti[12]
I wanted to build bridges between Jews and Muslims in Malmö because antisemitism is a problem in the city. After that I realised how great the need was to talk about this. Now I work to combat all kinds of xenophobia. — Siavosh Derakhti[12]

See also: Siavosh Derakhti

Siavosh Derakhti (born July 3, 1991) is a Swedish social activist, founder of Young People Against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia. In recognition of his activism to reduce antisemitism and xenophobia, the government of Sweden presented him in 2013 with the Raoul Wallenberg Award. The selection committee said Derakhti set a "positive example" in his hometown of Malmö and throughout Sweden. "He is a role model for others," the Wallenberg Award committee wrote, "showing through his actions and determination that one person can make a difference."[13][14][15]

United Kingdom

Progressive British Muslims

Progressive British Muslims (PBM) was a group of Liberal British Muslims that formed following the London terrorist attacks of July 7, 2005. The organisation was founded and is chaired by Farmida Bi, an expert in Islamic Finance to provide a voice for progressive Muslims who she felt were unrepresented by existing faith organisations. [16]

British Muslims for Secular Democracy

Founded in 2006, British Muslims for Secular Democracy is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting secularism in the United Kingdom.[17][18] It was founded in 2006 by Nasreen Rehman and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.[19] The group believes the diversity of views among British Muslims is not adequately represented to wider British society and that their image is distorted.[20][21] The organization is one of the growing number of feminist and progressive Muslim organizations.[22]


Main article: Quilliam (think tank)

Quilliam is a London-based left-of-center[23] think tank founded in 2008, that focuses on counter-extremism, specifically against Islamism, which it argues represents a desire to impose a given interpretation of Islam on society. Founded as The Quilliam Foundation, it lobbies government and public institutions for more nuanced policies regarding Islam and on the need for greater democracy in the Muslim world whilst empowering moderate Muslim voices.

According to one of its co-founders, Maajid Nawaz, "We wish to raise awareness around Islamism";[24] he also said, "I want to demonstrate how the Islamist ideology is incompatible with Islam. Secondly … develop a Western Islam that is at home in Britain and in Europe … reverse radicalisation by taking on their arguments and countering them."[25]

The organisation opposes any Islamist ideology and champions freedom of expression. The critique of Islamist ideology by its founders, Maajid Usman Nawaz, Rashad Zaman Ali and Ed Husain, is based, in part, on their personal experiences.[26]

Maajid Nawaz at West Hampstead, London hustings 2015
Maajid Nawaz at West Hampstead, London hustings 2015

Co-founder Maajid Nawaz is a British activist, author, columnist, radio host and politician.[27] He was the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for London's Hampstead and Kilburn constituency in the 2015 general election.[28] Nawaz is a former member of the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. This association led to his arrest in Egypt in December 2001, where he remained imprisoned until 2006. Reading books on human rights and interacting with Amnesty International, which adopted him as a prisoner of conscience, resulted in a change of heart. This led Nawaz to leave Hizb-ut-Tahrir in 2007, renounce his Islamist past and call for a "Secular Islam".[29] He wrote an autobiography, Radical, which was published in 2012. Since then, he has become a prominent critic of Islamism in the United Kingdom. He is a regular op-ed contributor, debater and public commenter.[30] He presented his views on radicalisation in front of US Senate Committee and UK Home Affairs Committee in their respective inquiries on the roots of radical extremism.[31][32][33] His writings have been published in various international newspapers and has delivered lectures at LSE and University of Liverpool, and has given talks at UK Defence Academy and Marshall Center for Security Studies.[34][35][36][37][38][39]

Nawaz argues that society must build a competing brand by adhering to its own values and visibly distinguishing its actions from those of the extremists. He warned against the illiberal approach of seeking new powers to intercept communications, or banning non-violent groups, and asserted that liberalism will kill totalitarianism softly, not by mimicking it.[40] He advocates a civil society push back against extremism, just like it was done against racism and homophobia, by seeding grass-roots initiatives and making extremist narratives a taboo.[40] In Nawaz's view, society is moving from an era of Nation-States and Globalisation, where identity is defined by national allegiances and citizenship, to an "Age of Behaviour" where behaviour is shaped by transnational ideas, narratives and allegiances.[41]

Nawaz notes how all transnational social movements of today, whether European Neo-fascism or Islamism, are extremist in nature, and democracy aspirants all over the world are left behind.[41] He criticises the idea of political correctness, and the hesitation of democrats in asserting the universality of democratic norms.[41] He also points to the political failure of many states in the Muslim world as a contributing factor. According to him, there is absence of democratic choice in many Muslim-majority countries, which means that their democratic parties often find themselves competing with non-democratic parties, including theocratic and military-backed ones. The political failure of democratic parties is taken as a failure of democracy itself in the Muslim world.[41]

According to Nawaz, all social movements are made up of some basic elements, and to challenge any movement, its elements have to be replaced with better alternatives.[41] The four elements are:

As a solution, Nawaz suggests building of global youth-led democratic movements that are above politics, and that build demand for democracy at the civilisational level.[41] He notes that while Islamists offer a full package to the Muslim youth, the democrats of the Muslim world offer nothing: there is nothing to dream, no democratic leaders to follow and no democratic symbolism to admire.[42] He cites Malala Yousafzai as a successful symbol of democracy and women's rights, but stresses the need for more such symbols which young Muslims can look up to.[43]

In his essay On Blasphemy, Nawaz notes that all prophets and reformers blasphemed against the existing orders of their time, and that heresy is the only guarantee of progress.[44] He lamented the revival of the atmosphere of blasphemy, and the neo-orientalist unwillingness to defend the ideals of free speech. He also criticised the term Islamophobia which, according to him, is a muzzle on free speech and deployed as a shield against genuine criticism.[44]

Inclusive Mosque Initiative

The Inclusive Mosque Initiative (commonly known as IMI) was founded in 2012, in London, UK. It is a grassroots activist organization which works toward "Establishing a place of worship for the promotion and practice of an inclusive Islam."[45] Since its inception the organisation has spread rapidly, with chapters across the UK and IMI internationally (Malaysia, Kashmir, Pakistan and Zurich). The London group remains the most active of IMI sites, and is structured around a majlis or committee of volunteers who share the everyday running of the organisation.[46] The beginning of IMI came out of their frustrations with the situation for women in many British mosques, where often women's sections do not exist and "[s]ometimes the facilities for women are very inferior, cramped, and not at all conducive to the attitude of worship."[47]

Relatedly, and thematically linking both the above channels of influence is the work of progressive, feminist and liberationist scholars rereading primarily Islamic sources in practice-based ways, such as Wadud's canonical work and activist endeavours on gender equality, and Asra Nomani's "Islamic Bill of Rights for Women".[48][49] IMI provides a space where families can pray together and at times are led by women. In all circumstances, regardless of the madhab of salah or who's leading, there is no compulsion for attendants to join in salah.[50][51]

Inclusive Mosque Initiative is intentionally inclusive and welcomes everyone who is interested in its activities. Whilst IMI is not a specifically queer organisation, amongst its social justice campaigns, IMI is openly concerned with the rights and safety of the LGBT community,[52] Imi also works with, and follows, guidance of progressive, liberationist readings of Islam, and welcomes everyone regardless of gender or sexual identities.[53]

See also


  1. ^ Ritzau: Ny formand for Demokratiske Muslimer Kristeligt Dagblad, (in Danish) 26 February 2007
  2. ^ Naser Khaders ry bremser muslimsk forening (in Danish) Berlingske Tidende, 16 February 2009
  3. ^ De demokratiske muslimer – hvor blev de af? Archived 2011-01-24 at the Wayback Machine (in Danish),, 13 January 2011
  4. ^ "Ibn-Rushd-Goethe-Mosque Facts: First LGBT 'Liberal' Mosque Of Germany Opens Inside Protestant Church". Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  5. ^ (, Deutsche Welle. "Germany's first liberal mosque opens in Berlin | Culture | DW | 16.06.2017". DW.COM. Retrieved 2017-07-16.
  6. ^ "Berlin woman risks life for liberal mosque". Deutsche Welle.
  7. ^ "Liberal Berlin mosque to stay open despite fatwa from Egypt". The Guardian. 25 June 2017.
  8. ^ ""Death threats every day" for woman behind new liberal mosque". Retrieved 2017-07-16.
  9. ^ Khalid (1998), p. 93.
  10. ^ Paul Bergne (29 June 2007). Birth of Tajikistan: National Identity and the Origins of the Republic. I.B.Tauris. pp. 16–. ISBN 978-0-85771-091-8.
  11. ^ Khalid (1998), p. 80.
  12. ^ Siavosh Derakhti from Malmö collected first Raoul Wallenberg Award Archived 2014-03-03 at the Wayback Machine The Government of Sweden, 28 August 2013
  13. ^ Siavosh Derakhti, a young Muslim, defends Jews and others targeted by hate crimes The Christian Science Monitor, 15 November 2013
  14. ^ Machzorim for Lund: A Ray of Hope The Baltimore Jewish Times, 14 July 2013
  15. ^ Siavosh brings young people together against racism European Youth Portal, 24 March 2015
  16. ^ "Farmida Bi: IBA profile". International Bar Association. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  17. ^ "What I now have in common with Jemima". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  18. ^ "Muslims launch new organisation to challenge perceptions". Asians in Media Magxine. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  19. ^ Ahmad, Imran (2008-05-01). "Representing ourselves better". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  20. ^ "British Muslims for Secular Democracy asks for pro-bono support". PR Week. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  21. ^ Whitaker, Brian (2008-05-01). "Scratching secularism's surface". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  22. ^ Nancy Graham Holm (2 February 2013). "Lonely Progressive Muslims: Trapped in the Crossfire Between Islamophobes and Intra-Muslim Hatred". Huffington Post.
  23. ^ "Can a Former Islamist Make It Cool to Be Moderate?". New York Times.
  24. ^ Gardham, Duncan (2010-08-05). "Mainstream Islamic organisations 'share al-Qaeda ideology'". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  25. ^ "How I'll fight against Islamic extremism". Echo News. Retrieved 2010-08-05.
  26. ^ Nawaz, Maajid. Radical. W.H. Allen, London: 2012
  27. ^ "The Quilliam Foundation Ltd. - Annual Return" (PDF).
  28. ^ "UK vote could create cross-border dynasty". Al Jazeera. 15 January 2014.
  29. ^ "Former Islamist Maajid Nawaz to fight marginal parliamentary seat for Lib Dems in 2015 election". 2013-07-19.
  30. ^ "Lib Dem Profile of Maajid Nawaz".(subscription required)
  31. ^ "UK Home Affairs Select Committee".
  32. ^ "US Senate Testimony".
  33. ^ "The Roots of Violent Extremism – Maajid Nawaz (US Senate Committee)".
  34. ^ "Maajid Nawaz". LBC.
  35. ^ "LSE Lecture: Radicalisation and Counterradicalisation".
  36. ^ "Maajid Nawaz at University of Liverpool". Archived from the original on 2015-11-20.
  37. ^ "Quilliam on Marshall Center".
  38. ^ "Maajid Nawaz speaks on Islamist radicalization to the next generation of leaders in the British Armed Forces". Quilliam.
  39. ^ "Marshall Center [PDF]" (PDF).
  40. ^ a b "To defeat terror we must destroy the jihadist brand". Financial Times.
  41. ^ a b c d e f "A Global Culture to Fight Radicalization".
  42. ^ "Talk: From Islamism to Secular Liberalism: Socrateslezing".
  43. ^ "Debate – From Islamism to Secular Liberalism: Socrateslezing 2015 Maajid Nawaz". Humanistisch Verbond.
  44. ^ a b "On Blasphemy". 2015-01-28.
  45. ^ Inclusive Mosque Initiative. "Statement of Intent". Retrieved 2014-10-27.
  46. ^ IMI FAQS. Retrieved 2014-10-28. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  47. ^ Maqsood, R (2005). The Role of the Mosque in Britain. London: The Muslim Parliament of Great Britain. pp. 7–8.
  48. ^ Kalmbach (2012). p. 1. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  49. ^ A History of Women in Islam, By Jamal Khawaja
  50. ^ *Men and women praying together in mosques
  51. ^ *Women promote mosques ‘for all’ in Britain
  52. ^ "juma circle". Archived from the original on 20 June 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  53. ^ Bano, Rahila (14 June 2013). "Alternative mosques for all genders and sexualities". BBC News. Retrieved 24 October 2016 – via