Can liberalism tolerate Islam?

Liberalism of a particularly socially-prescriptive kind seems to be filling the void left by religion, and Europe being the historic land of the divine right of kings, creed here has often been more closely bound up with politics than it was in the traditional Muslim polities. In this case, the critique of a particular expression of eros now functions as a blasphemy, or, in the argot of campus codes, a ‘speech violation’. Other blasphemies include, for instance, the idea that men and women are suited to different tasks, that the death penalty is a just punishment for murder, that parents have the right to use corporal punishment to discipline their children, and that unbelievers are less pleasing to God than believers. The list is quite a long one, and it seems to be growing.

George Steiner’s well-known Nostalgia for the Absolute, in which he proposes that Europe’s major modernist ideologies, (Freudianism, Marxism, Nazism) functioned as ersatz religions to fill the space vacated by Christianity, now needs to add the twenty-first century system of social and body beliefs to its catalogue of new secular faiths.

Abdal Hakim Murad, Travelling Home: Essays on Islam in Europe, page 28.

Categories: Dr Tim Winter, European Muslims, Islam, Life in the West, Recommended reading, Secularism, Sex, Taboo, Traditionalism, Unpopular views, Zeitgeist

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1 reply

  1. A fair comment, I think. As St Augustine famously wrote ‘…are hearts are restless until they rest in You (God)’. Man is by definition a creature of belief, who yearns for the Absolute: to worship and to be guided by a Power beyond them. In our history, Feudalism provided that sense of behavior with regards to the loyalty to the feudal lord which continues to echo in our secular halls even as far as the call to ‘take the knee’ was perceived by Dominic Raab as one of subservience rather than empowerment.

    Liberalism, as the good Sheikh mentions, is based on a variety of principles for which could seem to us now as out of date: divine right of kings, for example, whereas others seem vacuous outside of the religiously informed realpolitik of the 17th – 18th century which was still prominent in the minds of even the secular constitution of the US which affirms that we have ‘inalienable rights endowed by our Creator’. The concept of ‘human rights’ and ‘freedom’ have shape-shifted to suit the popular opinions of leading Western nations who have secured their own dominance through the subjugation of others; namely, those have continued to resist the importation of liberal values.

    Today’s situation is another example of this trend to maintain the words rather than the spirit of those classical maxims of Locke and others in order to convince us of their authority. There is a growing number of non-conformists (I use this term in a deliberately subversive manner) who are losing faith in not only the institutions but also the values which underpin them for, despite their transformation over the years, have allowed such expressions unwittingly to enter in whereas the classical Tradition would have been too clear with its red-lines to allow for it.

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