The Double Standards of Western Liberalism and the True Freedom of Faith

Posted on February 1, 2015

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As written for The Trend. (February 2015)

Sans liberte (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Sans liberte (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Despite the unpopularity of religion in the intellectual sphere, a new philosophy with sacred principles has seeped its way into this primarily ideological community. One in which its adherents preach that the liberal organization of society is the best for human beings with regard to their fundamental nature and interests.

While there are many such exposés, the hypocrisy of Western Liberalism’s laissez faire decrees were recently unearthed in the recent ‘Je suis Charlie’ movement that rose after the violent murders in Paris last month of 12 French journalists and cartoonists from the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.

Satire is an art form often attributed with great wit. But it is drawn, written, and performed with the intention to hurt – to provoke appreciation in some at the expense of provoking the ire of another. The gunmen in this instance were thought to have been angered by the magazine’s history of lampooning Islam.

As is usual with any terrorist attack carried out by Muslims, Muslim leaders in France and across the globe were quick to condemn the violence and it turned ‘moderate Muslims’ (Western terminology for non-maniacal, friendly Muslims) the world over into curtsying apologists.

In an attempt to pander to these Muslims, Charlie Hebdo decided to release its next issue with a depiction of Prophet Mohammed [saw] on its cover shedding a tear for the victims, with the movement’s mantra ‘Je suis Charlie.’ in spite of being aware that our Islamic faith takes great offense in any visual depiction of our Prophet [saw].

When Muslim funny bones were not tickled at the magazine’s attempt at religious cohesion, and a collective protestation in the form of calls for boycott and demonstrations ensued, we were deemed rigid, and antithetical to their way of life, leaving Muslims isolated and disenfranchised from the French and wider Western society.

This wouldn’t have had to be the case if Western liberal societies put into practice the fundamental pillar of their preachings unequivocally – the freedom of expression surely is a right shared by all, and the Muslim community’s right to ‘express’ their displeasure, should most certainly not impinge on a liberal society’s acceptance of religious pluralism?

The unfortunate reality is that the Charlie Hebdo incident is only one of many, because for as long as there have been societies promoting liberal ideals and freedoms in tune with the day and age, there have always had to be an ‘other’ – that is to say, supposedly backward populations that oppose or don’t necessarily conform with their lofty commandments.

The mistake we as Muslims make is that we fall prey to the bait of individual freedoms that the West uses to lure the Muslim world into compliance with their ideas of liberty. The hypocrisy of their edicts irrespective (that calls for a whole other essay altogether), we often forget that the liberties we have been granted along with our faith put to shame their mortal-made (and so, often flawed) depiction of the idea.

For having freed oneself from the shackles of liberalism in its socially accepted sense, a Muslim with unhindered faith in his deen is, amongst all the adulterated hue and cry of freedom and justice, the one who is in fact truly free.

How so?
Tawakkul in Allah’s [swt] Divine Decree

The word tawakkul is derived from the root وكل (w-k-l), which means “to give oneself over to, to rely/depend on, or to have unconditional confidence in another.”

Accordingly, tawakkul means that man, in the face of the numerous tests and trials of this life – the challenges of standing one’s moral ground for instance, or perhaps the sacrifices for loved ones, and possibly even the hurdles that hinder one’s path to reaching that proverbial finish line- wholly entrusts Allah [swt] as his custodian, for most certainly Allah is al-Wakeel, the ultimate and the best trustee.

Relying on Allah [swt] (at the same time investing one’s own time and effort) strengthens man to become more resilient in the face of adversities, and serves to keep one from being in a state of dependence on others, simultaneously instilling a sense of freedom and self-confidence.
Conviction that individuals are judged by Allah [swt] alone

And indeed, your Lord knows what their breasts conceal and what they declare. [Surah An-Naml;74]

There is an undeniable sense of security that comes with the certainty that in the face of contradiction or accusation, Allah [swt] is the Only One who can stake claim to knowing what is in our hearts. Armed with the additional layer in our armor which states that “Actions are (judged) by motives (niyyah), so each man will have what he intended [Al Bukhari & Muslim],” we as Muslims possess the weaponry that renders us bullet-proof.

For what greater immunity is there from the evil-laced arrows from the sheaf of this world, than the freedom that comes with knowing that we are not accountable to any mortal?
Trust that Allah [swt] will serve justice to all

And whoever submits his face to Allah while he is a doer of good – then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold. And to Allah will be the outcome of [all] matters. And whoever has disbelieved – let not his disbelief grieve you. To Us is their return, and We will inform them of what they did. Indeed, Allah is Knowing of that within the breasts. [Surah Luqman;22-23]

Unlike the nefarious courts of ‘justice’ and the representatives of courtrooms today, we are assured that in all instances we may have been wronged or misrepresented, those injustices will on The Day Of Recompense be atoned for. At the same time the converse is also guaranteed should we happen to be among the wrongdoers; for Allah [swt] is Al-Adl, The Just, and those who choose devotedness will be free of pain from the materialistic thorns scattered across the path to Jannah.

Magazines like that of Charlie Hebdo, are clearly cogs in the machinations of incendiary campaigns against Muslims. Following the publication of this new cover, there have been protests around the world against this act of provocation disguised as an attempt at reconciliation.

Islam and its followers are undeniably under attack, and we have every right to feel hurt, furious, and battered. But it is the deafening resonance of intellectual composure in a sea of emotionally driven retaliation that will undoubtedly serve best in light of the constant watchtower-like scrutiny under which Muslims have been positioned of late – with labels at the ready, just waiting to be stamped on our foreheads at the most subtle of missteps; falling right into the traps these provocateurs have ever-so-connivingly laid out for us.

And in the end, it will only be our understanding of what liberty truly represents and how to achieve this freedom that will make easy for us the attainment of a state of collective dignified restraint. For only with Tawakkul in Allah’s [swt] Divine Decree, undeterred conviction that we are all judged by Allah [swt] alone, and trust that Allah [swt] will serve justice to all, will we truly be liberated.

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Posted in: Islam, Published, Society