I always find amusing, and a little sad also, when a Muslim from a Muslim background, studies Islam up to scholarly levels, then when they end their studies at Islamic institutions and study at Western universities some suddenly complete a 180 degree turn on almost all their opinions and *coincidentally* all their views now coincide with whatever is mainstream Western ideology in the society the university was located.
To be sure, these people would describe their change of heart/mind as being “wiser” or “enlightened by the philosophy of the West” – but that begs the question why they weren’t enlightened or achieved wisdom by their studies of Islam before coming into contact with Western philosophy? Does Islam not enlighten? Did Allah (SWT) and the Prophet Muhammed (SAAW) require us to wait 1400 years for previously barbarian Germanic tribes to adopt Latin culture, romanised Christianity, a belief in the Trinity and then to discover pagan Greek philosophical texts and produce a philosophy formed from an amalgamation of the both (with an added sprinkling of skepticism against religion and God), in order to come up with a way of life that Allah (SWT) and the Prophet Muhammed (SAAW) *must have* intended all along but *forgot* to make it clear in revelation?
But the West is so advanced technologically and politically you ask? Well let’s not forget the fact that the rights people often point to in Secular Liberal countries today as examples are only very recent innovations within Western history.
The “right” to equality for gay marriage, “freedom of speech” (i.e. the right to blaspheme), identical rights for women and all ethnicities, and “free market” etc etc either only reached realisation as recent as the mid-late 20th century (blasphemy was decriminalised in the UK as late as 2008!), or other rights, like “Free market capitalism” were properly tried, failed and abolished long ago (e.g. free market capitalism caused mass drug addiction and horrific financial crises until it was severely limited and financial transactions have been subject to ever- increasing state regulation and interference under the new Keynesian system. It is highly debatable whether you can still call such a heavily regulated system a “free market”. The criminalisation of freely bought and sold recreational drugs occurred as recent 1924, even if users consent to buy it).
What is forgotten by all except historians, is that previous to the establishing of secular liberalism, the West had undergone massive technological and scientific changes for almost 600 years under non-secular systems and institutions- much of which was under the patronage of the Catholic church (and loads and loads of enslaved natives and “New World” blood-gold!).
Having grown up under Secular Liberalism, being a Secular Liberal, it amazes me why any of its devotees haven’t yet realised its immense irreconcilable contradictions, inconsistencies to human nature (revealed in countless scientific studies of human psychology and sociology), endemic social and financial problems and inequalities- and of course, its inexorable decline in the face of re-emerging civilisations such as the Russians (of Eastern Orthodox Christian heritage), Chinese and many others.
I and many colleagues who are too numerable to mention (but I’ll name drop Daniel Haqiqatjou, Asadullah al Andalusi [regretfully no blood relation…that I know of] and Dr Sherman Jackson) came from secular Liberal backgrounds and after growing up on it, came to a deep and profound realisation about the realities of this political philosophy, and after encountering Islam, gained true enlightenment and guidance. Our journeys being completely opposite to the journeys of some Muslims who change completely when they encounter just a little bit of Western philosophy.
Sometimes these “Muslim” secularists (or “reformists”, “modernists” or whatever name they call themselves) engage and decry any Muslims who either haven’t joined them, or like ourselves, have studied too much of Western philosophy to be duped by its specious arguments.
I find it even more laughable when they use secular liberal pseudo-intellectual arguments against mainstream Islamic beliefs and practices, thinking this helps them refute “ignorant backward Muslims stuck in the past” or people like ourselves who were former-Secular liberals. Ah, they think secular liberal philosophy is their ally? They merely adopted the philosophy. People like me were born in it, moulded by it, we never encountered Islam until we were already grown men, and by then it was nothing but truly guiding. Their secular liberal ideas betray them because they belonged to us – and we know its faults and contradictions better than them.
Heck, scholars like Ghazali, Farabi and many others were already aware of Greek philosophy, and in Farabi’s case, the Greek concept of Democracy, which he rejected and refuted saying that in such a system, despite all citizens being seemly equal, the rich would rule over the poor (see his Kitab al-Madinat al-Fadhilah).
Of course, the Muslim world is currently in a state of backwardness and ignorance, and many Muslims follow Islam either as a collection of rituals and creeds (with some added superstitions and non-Islamic beliefs and cultural practices) oblivious to how it can shape their societies and lives. But just because one civilisation is currently declined, doesn’t make another one automatically correct. When Muslims encountered the germanic inheritors of the collapsed former Western Roman empire, or as we called them, the “Faranji”, we thought them to be backward barbarians incapable of sophistication and advanced culture (as the Romans previously did). It took a long time for them, but after 600 years they acquired technological parity with us, and then in the last 400 years, began to surpass us. Lesson learned.
As Muslim today we have three choices open to us, we can 1) either blindly follow our parents generation and continue to treat Islam as a mere culture, or 2) we can copy everything the West does, and complete the process of colonialism that will render us emulators of the West and mental clients to them in perpetuity. Or 3) we can do what the Sahabah did: take the Quran and the Sunnah as guidance and study *only* the technology and scientific learning of other civilisations, improve them, add to them, and understand how to use this knowledge to attain and complete the world project the Prophet Muhammed (SAAW) started – namely, to free mankind from false idols, establish peace and justice in the world and be an example and sign of the guidance given to us by the creator for all mankind.
To this end, I’m going to begin a #Return2Reason campaign, that will rationally critique and review the claims of Secular Liberalism, with special emphasis on the Modernists irrational creeds and their attempts to apply Liberal Theology upon Islam and their demands for Muslims to change mainstream Islamic creeds. We’ll see what is truly rational or not, and who the real irrationalists are.
Imam Ghazali wrote his tahafut al falsafa (approximate translation: “incoherence of the philosophers”) to expose the hidden contradictions (and kufr) of some thinkers who mistakenly adopted some Greek thinking that contradicts Islam and rationality, (like e.g. Ibn Sina’s belief in the eternity of the universe, and therefore not created by God!). It’s time for a new endeavour, and I encourage everyone to get involved in a new “tahafut alfalsifat ilgharbiyya” (incoherence of Western philosophy).
To get the ball rolling, please read an article I previously published ‘The Irrationality of Western Ideology & the Blind Faith of ‘Muslim’ Modernists'
We aim not to keep Muslim minds closed, or to tell them to stop asking questions – as the modernists like to strawman those who don’t join their cult. On the contrary, as the Quran commands mankind to think, we call all to return to reason; scrutinise ALL dogmas (Secular Liberalism included), until Muslims have ground their beliefs on firm conviction and taken upon themselves a sharply rational way of thinking that brooks no openings for the assumptions of any culture, whether outside the West, or inside it. It is an endeavour that will not make us depart from Islam, but on the contrary, it will return us back to Islam with a refreshed vigour and outlook broader than ever before. A mindset we’re going to need for the Islamic revival to continue the Prophet’s (SAAW) mission he (SAAW) bequeathed to us all. For before our actions can change, our way of thinking must change.
To adapt a phrase by Francis Bacon:
A little Western philosophy inclineth man’s mind to Secular liberalism or Communism, but depth in all philosophy bringeth people’s minds back to religion and it’s guidance for societies.
More to come soon Insha’Allah…