People often wonder why we use the term "progressive" to define our values? What does progressive even mean? And how does it reflect what we stand for?

Definition of progressive

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the adjective progressive as:

: moving forward

: happening or developing gradually over a period of time

: using or interested in new or modern ideas especially in politics and education


Islam is inherently progressive

Islam, as a religion for all times and people, is inherently designed by God as a progressive religion. There are clear examples of how Islam was progressive even during the life of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

  • God revealed the Quran to the prophet Muhammad progressively over more than twenty years. 
  • God delivered his message incrementally: for example initially believers were commanded not to pray while intoxicated, and progressively intoxication was forbidden altogether.
  • Even the abolishment of slavery happened progressively, with Quranic verses encouraging mercy and freeing of slaves with the aim of a gradual reduction in slave numbers and eventual abolishment.
Righteousness is not turning your faces towards the east or the west. Righteous are those who believe in God, the Last Day, the angels, the scripture, and the prophets; and they give the money, cheerfully, to the relatives, the orphans, the needy, the traveller, the beggars, and to free the slaves
— Quran 2L177

Applying progressive values to Islam today

As Muslims for Progressive Values, we apply the same progressive approach to understanding the Quran and the Hadeeth. For example, in relation to gender equality, we believe that the Quran was leading the way in emancipating women (for example by giving them agency, rights to inherit and divorce). As Muslims we should continue on this trajectory of emancipating women just as our ancestors did with attitudes towards slavery.

Using a progressive approach to understand our deen means we continually return to the intentions and values that the Quran was espousing: compassion, justice, kindness, modesty, benevolence. By approaching our texts this way, we believe that rather than holding Islam back by insisting practices and beliefs stay stagnant, we are in fact being true to its message and progressing the religion so it may stay relevant to all humankind and for all times.


Click here to learn more about how we understand the Quran.