Back home in Malaysia, there appears to be some growing consensus towards opposing liberal Islam, maybe it isn’t that bad a growth, but Malaysia is far from having people with a sense of individuality, chucking their favour for “the winning team” or just someone strong enough to hold everyone’s hand. What I do worry here is the possibility that any religion does not have the capability to evolve with the times and instead holds itself as the judge, jury and if necessary, the executioner of all moral standings within the society.
But what exactly is liberal Islam? Well, there is a site that does define that. But since it’s in malay, someone else has taken the liberty of translating it for us, which goes like this:
- Destroying the meaning of Islam, Faith, Believers and Infidels (Merosak makna Islam, Iman, mukmin dan kafir)
- Deligitimizing the Uthmani-compiled Quran, and promoting the Critical Edition Quran (Mendelegitimasi (menyah-sahkan) Mushaf Uthmani dan menawarkan al-Quran Edisi Kritis)
- Equating the Quran with religious texts of other religions (Mempersamakan al-Quran dan Kitab Agama lain)
- Deligitimizing the (generally accepted) interpretation of the Quran (Mendelegitimasi (menyah-sahkan) tafsir al-Quran)
- Destroying Islamic law (Meruntuhkan syariat Islam)
- Destroying the authority of Prophet Muhammad, his companions and the ulama (Meruntuhkan otoriti Nabi Muhammad saw, sahabat dan ulama)
- Supporting moral decay (Menyokong kerosakan akhlak)
By that right, I think I pretty much took the idea of being a liberal muslim and threw it out the window becoming something else entirely. But in all seriousness, if this is indeed the definition that conservative muslims define the rest of the liberals, then we might be looking at the inevitable divide all along. Although my history may be a little sketchy, let me give you an example why we’re looking at a possible inevitable.
A few hundred years ago, there was only one church. They were the Roman Catholics and they were headed by the Pope. It was so powerful in fact that even ruling royalties at the time feared them. They were in essence the right hand of God, carrying out inquisitions to weed out heretics and either pulling the lost sheep back into the flock…or killing them in the name of God.
I could go on, but to cut a long story short, there came a guy named Martin Luther who jump started the Reformation and eventually after some religious wrestle, caused other christians to brake away from the Roman Church and form the Protestants. Of course, it didn’t stop there. Such a division spawned countless conflicts between both sides such as between the Elizabethan state and Northern Ireland. Even until today, while on the surface is widely accepted, there still is a sense of Anti-Protestantism which still bears old hatreds and prejudices within the religion.
Now, if you’re smart enough, I don’t think I have to spell out what significance this story has over the deal between conservative Islam and liberal Islam. It just appears to me that the evolution of a religion to deal with the current era would have in essence reached its zenith right about now after Islam is no longer just another religion in the background. We have to make that choice where we stand not just as people in the religion but as modern people living in the modern world. We are in the 21st century and while conservative purists might say such liberalism corrupts the essence of being in a religion, I doubt you would buy an old castle and not fit it with modern fixtures such as plumbing, electricity and gas. That’s just plan sensible.
I can’t argue for any side what should be done because I’m don’t think I’m qualified to define what religion is for another person. I may be muslim on paper, but I am a man of science at heart and as such I can only say that religion is between a person and their maker. I can only say that for the most part, it is time for every muslim to define for themselves what your religion means for yourself and how you think it’s best to serve God. If the underlying essence of our religion is to serve God then let us serve God, not by the watchful eye of people who can’t trust you to run your own moral judgements, but by carrying out the individual responsibility that everyone has to pay for the deeds they accomplish in life and in death.
At the end of it, such divisions in life, while spawning conflicts that shouldn’t have been does have the ability to reach out to people, focing them to make a choice. It isn’t such a bad thing for both sides, between Catholicism and Protestanitism the people now had a choice and the Church was no longer in monopoly of power and was forced wake up and take a good look at themselves at what they had become.
Maybe in time, if done right with a clear and solid purpose, such actions of those deemed heretics to conservative Islam will be remembered in history as those that redefined Islam to the new generation and a new era. I’m not saying that it will be easy and I’m not saying that what goes in between will be pretty as well. I’m just saying that there are some things in life that are inevitable to mankind’s social evolution. Beliefs of any kind are just not one that escapes this simple truth of things.