Despite a population of nearly 2 billion, Muslims have faced a relentless barrage of attacks on several fronts for the best part of two decades. While Western colonial policy on Muslim lands continues to this day, it could be argued that the greatest threat to the Islamic way of life is something far more insidious.
This threat is the threat of liberal philosophy. It is so pervasive yet so subtle, that many Muslim adherents do not even realise they have already subscribed to it.
This is because liberalism has been marketed as a “neutral” platform that doesn’t carry ideological baggage or a sinister agenda. The unwitting victim of the liberal system does not know how many of his own beliefs have to be discarded for this new belief! As the saying goes, ‘the best ideology is when you don’t know it’s an ideology.’ This ambiguity means that it becomes almost impossible to treat a problem that you can’t diagnose!
Only if liberalism is understood for what it is, a religion and a distinct way of life in itself, can we truly understand that it is the basis for many modern movements and ideas that contradict Islam.
Whether it’s the separation of traditional religion and state, the rise of feminism, nationalism, hyper-individualism, the sexualisation of society and ‘personalised’ versions of Islam – all of these can be directly linked to the liberal philosophy.
These are not ideas that occur randomly in a vacuum simply for the sake of empowerment or from a rational thought process – rather they are born from decades of propaganda courtesy of our education system, the media and government policy. It is not simply the passage of time that has increased the love of Dunya and corruption within our communities, but a liberal belief system and a way of life that rewards unislamic behaviour and punishes God-consciousness.
Often, liberalism’s believers utter mantras that, on the surface, can sound reasonable and even pleasing. But a critical look at the implications of what they call for shows otherwise.
“Freedom of speech” is the freedom to insult what everyone else holds sacred and erode social cohesion,
“Freedom of expression” is, in fact, freedom from God and slavery to desires,
“Free markets” is a shorthand for economic exploitation and monopolisation and
“Democracy” is a myth peddled to hand control to the ones who can buy the most influence.
Muslims have ignorantly adopted this language and allowed it to become a Trojan Horse into our own beliefs, thereby letting it influence our distinct Islamic concepts. How often do we find Muslims erroneously using “freedom of expression” as a basis for Muslim women to wear the hijab, only to find that they have also heedlessly enforced the right of women to do the exact opposite in contravention of Islamic principles? Language has always been one of the most ensnaring ways to control a population. After all, it was Orwell who said, “if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
Essentially, liberalism is a hedonistic way of life that claims all religions are free to operate – the only caveat being that they must be stripped down to rituals alone and play no role in public affairs!
Instead, we are expected to allow undiluted materialism to regulate our lives or adopt views that have developed in the interests of those with social power. It’s no wonder that we live in a society where moral, spiritual and humanitarian considerations are quickly discarded for financial values.
So how did we get here?
Perhaps we misunderstood what it means to have an Aqeedah. For centuries, opposing beliefs and ways of life were easily identified by the early Muslims as Arab pagans, Persian Zoroastrians and Roman Christians worshipped false deities that were clearly visible. It was simple to disassociate yourself with an act that required you to physically bow or kneel to something other than Allah (ﷻ). However, we failed to realise that not all false belief systems need physical idols.
أَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ
“Have you seen the one who takes as his god his own desire?” [Al-Furqan : 43]
Since the European revolutions and subsequent separation from the Church, the new gods are now precisely human desires. Under the guise of liberal philosophy, its founding prophets have derived a whole set of core beliefs, language, sacred books, customs and a political model that is the antithesis of Islam. The inability of Muslims to recognise this as an independent Aqeedah means they have blindly adopted many of its tenets; while a Christmas greeting doesn’t mean Muslims have adopted Christian beliefs, it certainly means they have adopted liberalism which aims to put all religions on the same, irrelevant pedestal so that none are considered unique and true. In this scenario, the only truth is liberalism – everything else is expected to be compromised.
وَدُّوا لَوْ تُدْهِنُ فَيُدْهِنُونَ
“They wish that you compromise, so they too can compromise.” [AL-Qalam : 9]
How else do we explain Muslims’ indifference to scholars who support tyrannical regimes? Only a belief system that fundamentally separates religion and politics can create a Muslim population that is satisfied with the preaching of individual ‘ibadah and morality at the expense of wider societal policies that are taken from sources other than Islam.
أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ يَزْعُمُونَ أَنَّهُمْ آمَنُوا بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ مِن قَبْلِكَ يُرِيدُونَ أَن يَتَحَاكَمُوا إِلَى الطَّاغُوتِ وَقَدْ أُمِرُوا أَن يَكْفُرُوا بِهِ وَيُرِيدُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَن يُضِلَّهُمْ ضَلَالًا بَعِيدًا
“Have you not seen those who claim to have believed in what was revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what was revealed before you? They wish to refer legislation to Taghut, while they were commanded to reject it; and Satan wishes to lead them far astray.” [An-Nisa: 60]
Once Muslims are able to identify and deconstruct this false Aqeedah, we will be able to challenge it with Islam instead of sacrificing it at the altar of liberalism.
We will be able to see that liberalism is not a blank canvas but uses non-coercive means very effectively to promote and naturalise certain views in society that the people start adopting as common sense.
We will find that all movements from the left side of the political spectrum to the right can be traced back to this doctrine. How much of what we believe and what we say is actually tainted or even produced by liberalism?
La illaha illallah is the detachment of Muslims from all false gods and beliefs systems and the submission to Allah alone.
Our Aqeedah means that we must detach ourselves from the religion of liberalism by reevaluating our existing assumptions and worldview, and secondly, construct an outlook based solely on what has been given to us by Allah and His Messenger (ﷺ). Only then can we identify and treat the causes of many problems that plague the Muslim ummah today that, for too long, we have simply misdiagnosed.