As much as there has been a rise in extremist Islamist movements over the past decade, the religious arena has also seen a rise of a moderate and reformist Islamist trends. This development with all its prominent figures has become increasingly courageous in presenting their opinions as they no longer practice hypocrisy in trying to win over the public rather than revealing to them the truth.
There are numerous emerging figures in the field of religious reform in Saudi Arabia. Recently, they have begun to express their ideas and this was evident through the latest cultural event of the International Book Fair in Riyadh, which revealed that a social and ideological mobilization is beginning to materialize, that deserves observation and support. This cultural event had also reflected the fact that the extremist Islamist trend with its restrictive outlook is no longer the sole voice to be heard. A new reformist trend is on the rise that uses reason and wise interpretations of Islamic history and teachings to link that which is religious and that which is of this world.
Religious reform is a necessity for the renaissance of nations. A clear example was the extremist interpretations of Christianity that once controlled lives in Europe and had impeded all attempts of development. This lasted until religious reform movements in Europe had emerged to reevaluate these interpretations blocking the extremists and narrow-minded radicals.
Religious reform is not about negotiating the basics of our creed. What is necessary however, is to look at the relationships amongst Muslims, their relationships with the rest of the world, the relationship between the state and religion, the rights of women and minorities, tolerance, science and technology, the shortcomings of backwardness, hatred and narrow-mindedness and how to evolve in an era of understanding, love and respect for life and the balance between religion and this world.
Religious reform in Saudi Arabia has surprised us however, these various attempts should be united, especially for those who want to reclaim Islam from the extremist ideologies and rescue Islam from the actions of neo-Kharijites. These dispersed movements must unify and try to find new means and methods of communication. Furthermore, such movements should be encouraged, as it is not fair that a religion as great as Islam should fall victim to misinterpretation and distorted practices that should be ended abruptly.