Liberal Muslims missing the big picture


Liberal Muslims are badly infected by the muddled thoughts of some western theologians.

Syed Ahmad Israa’ Syed Ibrahim, FMT

It is amazing how the universe had been teaching us so many things and yet we often overlook them and take things for granted.

Take a fruit for example, any fruit. The final product of a tree which embodies all that give benefits to human beings – the rich nutrients, the sweet taste, the wonderful colour. The fact that we as human beings having a necessity towards fruits, is undeniable.

And by God’s mercy, He let us live in this world with so many types of fruits. A diversity phenomenon which had been adorning our life as a human being in this world, and even brought ease for us. There will always be the one that suits our taste and need.

In a child’s eyes, what matters most from a tree he sees in front of him is of course the fruits. He will strive to pick one and eat it as fast as he could, before finding other fruits and repeating the same.

But in the eyes of a matured man, someone capable of deeper thoughts, the story of a tree isn’t just about the fruits. He knows that the roots, the trunk, and the branches, are just as important as the fruits.

In fact, he knows, without a strong root, a functioning stem, there wouldn’t be any branches nor any fruits in the end!

The ‘hudud’ issue in Malaysia recently had brought up a lot of discussions, arguments, and even some foolish responses not just against the hudud, but against the true nature of Islam itself.

While some just barked unknowingly, some tried to steal a spotlight to impose his or her version of Islam, with questionable intention.

I found that most of the points comprised in these arguments are not very much different than other previous writings (before the hudud issue came up), which are trying very hard to present a so-called ‘modern way’ of thinking about Islam.

These kind of writings unfortunately – despite being blatant and misleading – are infesting the media and shaping the mind of Muslim readers online.

(Let me clarify that I am not against modernity and freedom of speech. I am just against the distorted modernity and irresponsible freedom of speech that most of ‘moderate’/liberal Muslims are advocating.)

What are the main characteristics of these kind of ideas? What is this so-called ‘modern way’ of thinking about Islam? (In case you are still wondering, these ideas could be found mainly in groups like IRF, SIS, and in some individuals in political parties like PAS and PKR).

I would like to explain by relating to the lesson of the tree & fruits I’ve mentioned above.

Missing the big picture

These liberal Muslims always missed out the ‘big picture’ of this ‘tree’. Either they see it only as the roots, or only as the stem, and most of the time, they see it only as the fruits. This is their fundamental flaw.

There are many reasons for this, and the biggest of it is that these liberal Muslims are badly infected by the muddled thoughts of some western theologians.

Take Wilfred Cantwell Smith (1916-2000) for example; he proposed that most of what people of any religions do now are just ‘cumulative traditions’ (not religion), and it is totally different than ‘faith’.

While his theory may fit other religions like Christian, it does not in any way acceptable in Islam. Islam is not just any of the component of ‘the tree’, it is ‘the tree’ itself, from the roots to the fruits.

This leads to the second fundamental flaw in these liberal Muslim minds – separation of worldly affairs from the divine faith and religious values, or in its appropriate term; ‘secularisation’.

Faith, values, and human affairs (including politics, economy, etc.) are inseparable in the view of Islam. All human affairs and behaviours (in every aspect of life) in Islam are none other than ‘the fruits’ of having a sound faith (the roots) and moral values (the stem).

‘Modernist’ Muslims may preach that by doing this, they are preventing the public spheres from incorporating religion, and vice versa. While on surface they might come up with thousands of embellished arguments, the truth is that by doing this, they are actually replacing the currently functioning religion in a society with another religion named as ‘secularism’.

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