Progressive Muslims: Looking Back in Time

Ernest Renan’s reply to Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani:

[The] human mind must be freed of all supernatural belief if it wishes to work on its essential work, which is the positive construction of science. This does not imply the violent destruction nor brusque rapture. The Christian does not have to abandon Christianity nor the Muslim Islam. The enlightened parties of Christianity and Islam should arrive at that state of benevolent indifference where religious beliefs become inoffensive. This has happened in about half of the Christian countries, let us hope it will happen in Islam. Naturally on that day the Sheikh [Afghani] and I [Renan] will agree in applauding? There will be distinguished individuals (though there will be few as distinguished as Sheikh Jemmal-Eddin) who will separate themselves from Islam, as we separate ourselves from Catholocism. Certain more or less will break with the religion of the Koran; but I [Renan] doubt that the movement of renaissance will be made with the official support of Islam.

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