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5/24/2017 2:07 pm  #1

Are Islam and Liberalism Compatible?

I've been getting questions about this on and off for a couple months now, but it seems like a better topic for the forum than my email. (Probably several of you know more about both than I do.)


5/24/2017 5:51 pm  #2

Re: Are Islam and Liberalism Compatible?

I don't think any traditional religion is fully compatible with liberalism. Liberalism demands a very strong separation of religion and politics, and ultimately the sacred and profane. I don't think this is compatible with any traditional faith, given it implies an unbridgeable duality of political and social life from religious and spiritual life. Islam may be more explicit, but I think for Christianity, Buddhism, or just about any traditional religion, all spheres of life have their ultimate pattern in the transcendent. This seems to have been generally assumed by Christian divines before the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries.

This doesn't mean the Muslim (or Christian, Buddhist, whatever) has to support intolerance and oppression. There are good traditional arguments why persecution is a bad idea, not least that it tends to warp the faith of persecutor, making it more worldly and a matter of worldly power than spirituality. 


5/24/2017 9:58 pm  #3

Re: Are Islam and Liberalism Compatible?

I had a thought similar to Jeremy's when reading the question.  One of things that Rousseau and the American founding fathers worried about was the problem of factions in a democratic republic.  If people ever identify as something before they identify as a citizen, they would lose the incentive to compromise or put the political entity before the interest of the group they truly identify with.  Religion seems like the best example of a faction that is incompatible with liberalism, but not the only one.

The problem seems not to truly lie between Islam and liberalism, rather Islam is the only major religion in the modern West to maintain its ground in the face of liberalism.

Last edited by Brian (5/24/2017 9:59 pm)


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