The role of religion, and especially Islam, in the process of reform and change was a particular focus of the Nahda. Issues debated included the role of Islamic tradition and jurisprudence, religious doctrine, and the practice of ijtihad as well as others. At the center of the debate was also the compatibility of Islam with modern sciences and scientific inquiry as well as with progress and modernization in general. The dominant trend was the belief that reform, progress and modernization are compatible with religion, and in particular with Islam.
In recent years religion in the Arab region has become increasingly the predominant organizing force in public and private lives. Social divisions, economic disparities, and political repressive governments have been justified under the guise of religion. One of the most important and immediate effects is also the stifling of public debate on religion. ARDD aims at initiating a debate on the role of religion, in particular in view of its use by radicalized forces for the promotion of their political agenda.