Is there room for liberalism in Islam?

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Yes, there is no reason why there cannot be.

As Fareed Zakaria points out, unlike in Christianity, for example, ‘Islam has no religious establishment- no popes or bishops- that can declare by fiat which is the correct interpretation’ (5). The absence of an official clergy, therefore, allows for groups such as ISIS or al-Qaeda to claim to speak on behalf of Islam, thereby promoting their own interpretations of official doctrines. When these extreme interpretations are brought to international attention, it makes sense that so many who know so little about Islam take these extremist and/or ultra-conservative practices (like Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia) to be genuine Islam.

Zakaria, Fareed. “Islam, Democracy, and Constitutional Liberalism.” Political Science Quarterly 119.1 (2004): 1-20. 

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