Advocates of Islamic reform who hold that a proper reformulation of Islamic beliefs and law will accomodate Islam to modern science and liberal values. This reformulation is to be achieved through a critique of traditional Islam, a return to the sources to rediscover the original message of Islam, and an ongoing adaptation to new circumstances through ijtihad.

Modernists have argued that modernity, far from being opposed to Islam, is actually based on Islamic values, and was developed by Europeans on the basis of Islamic learning transmitted to Europe through Muslim Spain.

Modernists may be distinguished from islamists (who also seek a return to original Islam through ijtihad) chiefly by their conviction that true Islam is in harmony with modern rationalism and liberalism, though not with all aspects of modern Western culture.

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