There is nothing about modernity in general that Islamic teachings are opposed to. In fact, many aspects of modernity, such as the use of science, reasoning, and invention as a means for improving our lives are in line with the Islamic ideology that led to the flowering of science and learning at the height of Islamic civilization. In turn, this blossoming of science and learning contributed to the European Renaissance. Muslims also have a tradition of ijtihad (independent thinking) which facilitates reform and reinterpretation. When nurtured by enlightened scholars, ijtihad revitalizes Islamic societies and moves them forward. Islam is a universal religion compatible with different times and places, with the ability to adopt whatever is positive and good and to modify or avoid what is detrimental. However, Muslims, like members of other religious groups, question some of the specific aspects of modernity that Islam, like other religions, is not compatible with. These include the rejection of the belief in God, or other moral values that have been challenged or rejected in the modern era. Additionally, diverse and multiple groups, including some Muslims in a post-modern era, are increasing pointing out the devastating effects that modernity and its accompanying technological advances, when influenced only by factors relating to economic profit and short-term gain, have had upon our environment and the world.

There is nothing in the Islamic teachings that contradicts the ideals of democracy. On the contrary, there are Islamic principles such as the concept of shura, or “mutual consensus,” that reflect the ideals of democracy. Beyond shura, there is no specified form of Islamic governance.

As we witnessed during the 2011 Arab Spring, people throughout the Arab world in countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and Syria have risked their lives in their struggle for freedom and democratic change in their countries. A 2011 Pew poll shows that a majority of Muslims in the world desire democracy. Today, many Muslim-populated countries are experiencing democratic transformations, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Turkey. Where democracy does not exist, it is usually because of post-colonial dictators who have maintained their rule against the will of the people.

It is also important to remember that even in the West, democracy is a recent phenomenon that developed after centuries of despotic rulers. In the U.S., the road to a more representative democracy has been gradual, as initially only propertied white men were allowed to vote. Whites without property, African Americans, and women had to fight to gain this right which they achieved only gradually.