Reform is always tricky. I think Ali sounds like a very careful man. And I think dialogue with him and others like him is really important and should be encouraged with patient listening and slow reaction. As Siggy says:
…Ali, of Unwilling Self Negation, speaks clearly and eloquently for himself- and he is a voice of moderate Islam.
That voice may or may not always be in harmony with our own. That said, Ali’s voice is one of reason and moderation. What is most admirable is his openess. He is a seeker- ‘If I’m wrong, show me, teach me,’ is the background music of almost everything he writes. In fact, he is more likely to question his own motives and beliefs before he is content with his beliefs. That is no small matter- Ali has his own compass. He is not likely to be drawn off course by any of the agendista’s out there.
And from Ali, on defining Reform:
I believe that ‘reforming Islam’ means: 1) making Muslims who live in non-Muslim and/or secular countries (America, England, the West), the ability to live harmoniously there, 2) making Muslims who live in predominantly Muslim countries which do not have democracies (Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Syria), the ability to agitate for change using moral, just, and humane methods, 3) making Muslim who are agitating for authonomy (Kurds/Palestine/Chechnya), the ability to use Islam as a liberation theology, not as a death theology, 4) making Muslims who live in theocracies (Iran, Saudi Arabia), redefine the Shariah under which they live in such a way that their laws comport with the current human rights norms of the world. Finally, there is 5) an independent element of reforming Islam: that is, to engage the world-wide community of Islamic Jurists and have them figure out why the theoretical Shariah ( i.e. the framework of the Shariah) has ossified in the 11th century.