Islam and Liberalism

So-called modernism is clouding the world at a rapid rate. With an increasing percentage of people abandoning ‘old’ customs and traditions in order to keep up with the so-called ‘modern world’. Whilst, in reality, modern ideology is a mirror of the past. We are seeing a repeat of the same vices and ills creeping back into society as those that caused nations to be destroyed in the past as a consequence of the people of that time not reforming despite warners being sent directly to them. They did not listen nor is the ‘modern world’ listening today. We are now experiencing an amalgamation of all the ills that appeared in various centuries among various parts of the world since the creation of Adam asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him". Why? Because this is that promised era that was foretold by all prophets of the past including the Holy Prophet saabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" of Islam, in which faith will have ascended to the Pleiades and a Messiah would appear to revive and restore the unity of God. That Messiah was none other than Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him".

The coexistence of liberalism and Islam has been an issue that has been widely debated in recent times. Liberalism is portrayed as the saviour to the cries of the oppressed, whilst Islam is portrayed as the oppressor. But is that really how it is? Do the teachings of Islam conflict with basic human values? Is Islam an outdated religion which requires a modern update?

Adolf Hitler once said, “Universal education is the most corroding and disintegrating poison that liberalism has ever invented for its own destruction.”

The so-called liberal ideas that have taken root in the world today have mainly stemmed from the West. In doing so, the rest of the world is made to follow suit without questioning the concept itself, and those who conflict with those views are ostracised and cancelled, going against the very basics of liberalism, to protect and enhance the freedom of every individual.

Looking back to the history of liberalism, it became particularly prominent in the 20th Century, with its main aim at eliminating conflicts and resolving disagreements between states through organisations such as the League of Nations, the UN and the International Court of Justice. Liberalism is highly influenced by time and circumstance, with its values changing, depending on where you are looking in the world. However, the recent wave of liberal ideologies is such that they are being funded and promoted with an agenda to incline the whole world upon those values.

For example, the recent FIFA World Cup that just took place in 2022. It was one of the most controversial events in recent years. The main reason for the controversy is that the authorities stuck to their Islamic principles in light of a great deal of pressure from governments and authorities all over the world. The prohibition of alcohol in stadiums and rainbow flags caused a massive uproar. However, one Qatari official responded, after an American journalist tweeted about his experience whilst trying to enter the football stadium with a rainbow shirt. The Qatari official replied on Twitter saying,

“As a Qatari I’m proud of what happened. I don’t know when will the westerners realise that their values aren’t universal. There are other cultures with different values that should be equally respected. Let’s not forget that the West is not the spokesperson for humanity.”

Perhaps it is time for the West to realise that liberalism is not that only Western values should be given the freedom to be expressed. However, all cultures and values should be free to practice what they believe without prohibition.

Among the popular concepts taking rise in the world today, under the veil of liberalism, is the issue of rights bestowed to women in Islam. A common stereotype of Muslim women is a picture of a wife-beating Muslim man forcing his ‘wives’ to cover up and stay at home whilst the man himself goes and enjoys the world.

Islam, often criticised for its treatment of women, actually contains teachings that promote gender equality and empowerment of women. The Holy Qur’an liberated women in a society where newborn girls would be seen as a stain on the family and would be killed. Where women didn’t have a right to inheritance, nor a right to divorce and would be beaten by their husbands, it was only after the advent of Islam, that people’s mindsets were being changed rather than just their actions.

For example, in Surah An-Nisa, verse 125 Allah the Almighty states:

وَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِنَ الصَّالِحَاتِ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنْثَى وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَأُولَئِكَ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَا يُظْلَمُونَ نَقِيرًا

But whoso does good works, whether male or female, and is a believer, such shall enter Heaven, and shall not be wronged even as much as the little hollow in the back of a date-stone

(The Holy Quran 4:125)

The Holy Qur’an put women on a level playing field against men and gave the glad tidings that no one is inferior or superior in the eyes of God, except he who is more righteous.

Islamic history showcases female scholars, entrepreneurs and leaders who contributed significantly to society. While cultural practices have sometimes deviated from Islamic ideals, a careful examination of Islamic teachings reveals a foundation supportive of gender equality.

Gender Equality. Not Gender Fluidity!

The Holy Qur’an is clear on the fact that there can only be two genders and there’s no other way around it. In chapter 4, verse 2 of the Quran, God Almighty states that we are all descendants of Adam asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" and Eve.

However, along with this, Islam also recognises that medically it is possible to be born with two sex organs. Hence, the Holy Prophet saabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" said that the determining factor in such a case was the organ with which the child urinates.

The relationship between liberalism and Islam is complex and multifaceted, characterised by areas of convergence and points of tension. While challenges exist, the exploration of shared values and principles can lead to fruitful discussions and the potential for finding common ground. Recognising the diversity within both liberalism and Islam is crucial in fostering mutual respect, understanding and cooperation, ultimately paving the way for a more inclusive and harmonious society.

Disclaimer

This article was originally published in the Annual Printed Edition of Majallatul Jamia

Daanish Khurram

Daanish Khurram

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