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The Muslim Right and Making of the Muslim Left

Part V of the ongoing series on Islamic reform is up at Guardian Unlimited. It is entitled The Muslim Right and Making of the Muslim Left. It starts with a story from my life, evaluates the ideological development of the … Read More

By / October 16, 2007

Part V of the ongoing series on Islamic reform is up at Guardian Unlimited. It is entitled The Muslim Right and Making of the Muslim Left.

It starts with a story from my life, evaluates the ideological development of the Muslim right, and then offers a way forward (the Muslim left), along with the necessary strategies this left will have to employ.

I recommend creating a viable and well organised Muslim left. It would be an intra-religious movement as opposed to a universalist one (though obviously it doesn't shun allies). It would be a cousin of the international left, but in a Muslim garb. Just as the Muslim right found Islamic means to justify the destructive ideas from the enlightenment (Fascism, Marxism, totalitarianism, evangelical religion), the Muslim left should find Islamic means to justify the positive ones (anti-foundationalism, pragmatism, autonomy, tolerance). This Muslim left should also espouse the following basic ideas, without being limited to them: • separation of mosque and state; • opposition to tyranny (even if the tyrant has liberal values); • affirmance of republicanism or democracy; • an ability to coherently demonstrate that the Muslim right represents merely one interpretation of Islam; • a commitment to free speech and eagerness to defeat the Muslim right in the marketplace of ideas; • commitment to religious individualism and opposition to left-collectivism, specifically Marxism; • opposition to economic protectionism; • opposing any and all calls for a "council of religious experts" that can oversee legislation (even if those experts are liberals); and • affirming international law. Muslim leftists will – it is a must – have to be able to articulate all of these in Islamic terms, in order to persuade the people who need to be convinced, ie Muslims. This means that a Muslim leftist will, naturally, also have facility in the Muslim traditions. The real-world paucity of individuals with such dual facility is indicative of how far behind Muslim leftism is currently.

Please read the whole essay, especially the intellectual trajectory of the Muslim right. Without understanding that, one cannot understand the need and necessity of a Muslim "left."

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