An Online Discussion with Modernist ‘Muslims’ and Progressive Liberals on Toleration & Ambiguous Hadith Texts

On the 30th May 2013, I posted onto the Facebook group ‘ Muslims for Progressive Values’, a link to my article discussing the intolerant views of famous Liberal Philosopher, John Locke, against religious adherents whose faiths contain political aspects. I always try to get others from differing beliefs to discuss and critique my work, for the benefit of myself and others.

Here is a summary of the ensuing discussion in the comments section. I want to draw particular attention to the comment by Rafi Punjabi, who I feel provided a good example of a phenomena I highlighted. Namely, the phenomena of Modernist ‘Muslims’ taking relatively ambiguous religious texts, and assigning a definite meaning to it irregardless of how untenable the interpretation is. Using this contrived interpretations, they set about laying down a particular principle for Muslims to follow that conveniently justifies Liberal beliefs, and why Muslims should adopt them. Please note that Rafi concedes my demonstrated points about Liberal intolerance.

David Hoffman 

Abdullah Andalusi


Your blog post claims, at the outset, that the revelations you will expose about John Locke’s intolerance further demonstrate that all “western liberalism” is contaminated with that same intolerance. 

You reason that because Locke is 

“credited with giving form to the enlightenment ideas pervading europe, and collecting them, nay coalescing them into a formal system of thought … which would later be called Liberalism” 

that this somehow means that any intolerance found in Locke permeates and taints all other western liberalism, secularism etc. with intolerance. 

You then go on to refer to the (very real and beneficial) virtues of secularism in sarcastic quotation marks, saying they are 
“known euphemistically today as ‘freedom’, or ‘liberty’”. 

and smirk around about what hypocrites liberal secularists are. 

This is identical with Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority and Pat Robertson’s 700-Club smears of “secular humanism” as militant ideologies attacking religious sectarianism under what they claim is a “guise of neutrality”. 

I totally disagree with every bit of this reasoning, and consider it spurious and malevolent.

Abdullah Al Andalusi

 David,

I’m sorry my article irks you so, but please explain as to what part of the article is untrue – rather than railing against the subjective inferences you derive from it.

I made 3 points, 1) John Locke is revered by Liberals and his writings are seminal to Libertarianism/Liberalism 2) John Locke has no fundamental objection to the principle of abolsute theocracy, killing apostates or being intolerant to Muslims and Atheists. 3) Europe now accomodates Atheists, but has problems with Islam & Muslims.

Please tell me which one of those points are untrue? 

You may not like your own inferences of the article, but you haven’t explained how any of these points are untrue. So please don’t shoot the messenger.

David Hoffman 

Abdullah Al Andalusi

That’s a really interesting style of polemics you used, in response to my post. I don’t think it addresses the concerns I raised, though. 

What will best serve truth will be for you to clarify whether you do or don’t believe that the entire western liberal secularist tradition is contaminated with the views you attribute to John Locke. 

Do you believe that it is? 

Or do you believe that people can embrace and advocate secularist, “western enlightenment” values and views, while remaining free of, and innocent of, the horrific views you attribute to Locke? 

Which do you believe is the case? That one can do so? Or that one cannot? 

I think that it was, in fact, your intended message to all readers, that Liberalism of all stripes is contaminated with intolerance, and that this is a result of John Locke’s alleged intolerance – which has in some way tainted all of liberal secularist thought. I don’t believe that this was some unintended “subjective inference” that I mistakenly ascribed to you. 

I am fairly confident that the six other MPV participants who liked my post about your essay also thought this was your intended message. Those multiple FB “likes” are a further indication that my reading of your essay was reasonable. 

So please clarify. 

Thank you.

Rafi Punjabi 

Abdullah, if you are forbidden to disrespect time because time is God then you should not berate modern times.

Prophet Muhammad was fashionable as compared to Noah or Sheeth. This means if he would have been living in the modern time he would have been,may be, more modern than you and me, discussing Islam in coffee shops and clubs. But, Since you are mentally and spiritually living in seventh century the modern way of life sounds you bizarre.With this cultural stagnation you might be able to develop, in your own opinion, closer relationship with God but you will be always away from his creation, the human beings for whom this whole system of cosmos was conceived. This may weigh heavier on your young mind, you better stay with the people of your ilk without condemning the educated progressive Muslims for their secular and liberal outlook.The Quranic verses quoted by you are out of context because they were revealed for a particular type of people living in Mecca and Medina during the times of Prophet Muhammad.

Rafi Punjabi 

Hadith – Sahih Bukhari 8.200, Narrated Abu Huraira, r.a.

Allah’s Apostle said, “Allah said, ‘The offspring of Adam abuse the
Dahr (Time), and I am the Dahr; in My Hands are the night and the
day!’ “

Abdullah Al Andalusi 

Rafi Punjabi,

What has time got to do with culture or ideology? Your conflation of the two is ludicrous. Should we say that if I was an Aztec, I should respect Human sacrifice because it was practiced in its time?’, or perhaps I should laud Fascism, or communism, since those two are modern ideologies? Perhaps the rampaging Viking was merely respecting God (as time), when he partook of the pastime of raping, looting and pillaging?

On a side note, thank you for proving my article correct when I said that Modernists take ambiguous (or irrelevant verse/hadith to the subject at hand), and interpret it to justify anything their hearts desire. 

Oh and the verses on the hypocrites were only for a particular people living at one time, in a specific place? I didn’t know the Quran was so limited according to your view – I mean, it’a not like the hypocrites of medina exhbited a psychological phenomena that reoccurs in humans? No, it must be only at that time that humans acted that way. Ever since then, hypocrites must have ceased to exist, right?

p.s. Btw – why are you believing in Democracy? You must be mentality and spiritually living in the 5th century BC [by your logic]- I hope you don’t wear toga’s.

Abdullah Al Andalusi

David Hoffman,

You Liberals like to disassociate yourselves from the opinions of the founding fathers of Liberalism – however the problem with your attempts to do so, is that your can’t cherry pick an opinion that is based upon the same basis of other opinions you subscribe to. John Locke argued for intolerance for the preservation of the state (so did John Stuart Mill in his later writings).

Now, assuming that no one here is anarchist – you all would probably subscribe to the Liberal opinion that a state is required to guarantee and ensure the Life and Liberty of the people. However, the Liberal state depends on two things 1) its citizens accepting the program (i.e. liberalism) that forms its authority, and 2) the citizens have no other loyalty or affliation that supercedes the state, and is political in nature.

As both Catholics, Communists throughout history, and now jailed Muslims have discovered, Liberalism isn’t so tolerant when your belief has political aspects to it that are not in conformance with Liberalism.

Please read Abdal-Hakim Murad’s masterful essay on ‘Can Liberalism Tolerate Islam?’ – you’ll find more answers there.

Rafi Punjabi 

Abdullah Al Andalusi, I am happy that unlike other faithfuls of your ilk you try to think. That is a good habit and Qur’an also says Afala Taqloon. But, by transcending your limits and trying to fish in the troubled waters you are committing an unpardonable offense.It should not be an invasion in the peaceful territories in the name of ‘jihad’. It is scholarship that is required in discussing John Locke. I understand that John Locke is not my exclusive property but he is also something beyond your understanding. It is better for a thinker of your caliber to concentrate on issues like ‘Khashu’, ‘Khadoo’, ‘wadoo’ etc.That will help Muslims to get educated more on these subjects. John Locke is not your cup of tea. When you could not understand my reference of time and space ,how can you understand John Locke’s legacy of religious freedom? He was right in limiting religious freedom to forms of worship only that had no destabilizing political consequences. But, what should I do to your myopic vision? Try Nursery Rhymes also for mental nourishment…not bad dear.

David Hoffman

I don’t think we will accomplish anything useful with this online argument.

David Hoffman 

I will add this, though, Abdullah Al Andalusi

You have an extremely artificial, cerebralized and dogmatic misconception of who we “liberals and progressives” are. Your fantasies about how we think and why, and how we form our values and our spirituality, constitute a gross and preposterous caricature of who we actually are, think, understand, worship and pray. 

Stop spreading toxic disinformation about me and millions of others. Your writing is slanderous and disinformational. It’s a form of hate campaigning. Wars are being fought right now, based on such gross and prejudicial hostile stereotyping. 

Just as Robert Spencer and Steven Emerson slander Islam, you are slandering progressives and liberals. 

God is truth. Speech which slanders is ungodly.

Abdullah Al Andalusi

Rafi punjabi, and David hoffman.

Thank you for your responses. It is sad to see you don’t engage my points but focus on me instead. I do not slander Liberals, I merely quote Liberal philosophers, and [see the] connect[ion] with current political actions and liberal policies. It is interesting to note that Rafi has actually agreed with John Locke, that ‘He was right in limiting religious freedom to forms of worship only that had no destabilizing political consequences’.

So not only does Rafi agree with John Locke’s intolerance of aspects of a religion that go beyond forms of worship – he also limits worship actions too, to only those that do not create ‘destabilizing political consequences’. I’m sure the French government would agree with you too.

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Categories: Online discussions & debates, Response to Secular Reformation & Modernism, The Muslim Debate Initiative, WRITINGS

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2 replies

  1. “I made 3 points, 1) John Locke is revered by Liberals and his writings are seminal to Libertarianism/Liberalism 2) John Locke has no fundamental objection to the principle of absolute theocracy, killing apostates or being intolerant to Muslims and Atheists. 3) Europe now accomodates Atheists, but has problems with Islam & Muslims. Please tell me which one of those points are untrue?”

    Beautifully summarized, and he *still* dodged the question. Do they ever give straight yes/no black/white answers? On dirait les discussions avec ma famille, subhanAllah.

  2. Right there exposing themselves… conforming to your prev article..
    :O

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