Beware of “Liberal Islamists”?

A friend forwarded me a very entertaining article regarding what is referred to by the author as “liberal Islamists”.

Basically, the article mentioned three types of entities:

(1) Classic Islamists; ultra-conservatives who are adamant on establishing an Islamic state.

(2) Liberal Islamists; those who share the same principles with “Classical Islamists”, yet choose to

collaborate with the ‘secular powers’ and even don the mask of progressiveness’ and speaks in the name of modernity, reform and universal values.

(3) And while the author didn’t elaborate in detail, there are also those he called Liberal Muslims, who are the target of especially the “Liberal Islamists”.

If you have the time, go through the piece (it’s a short 12 page article). If you don’t, I recommend reading the last 3-4 pages.

Considering the article is hosted by a site in Singapore, I would assume that the writer is writing in the context of local issues. In that light, just who exactly are the “liberal Islamists” that the author so intently cautions about?

Well, apparently these “liberal Islamists” are able to

convince the dominant secular groups that they (the liberal Islamists) are indeed the progressive ones that should be trusted and entrusted with authority to speak on and for ‘moderate’ Islam. Yet, when liberal Islamists are within fellow Muslim circles, they would maintain their classic authoritarian streak by obsessively differentiating the ‘true Muslims’ from the rest and identifying what is truly ‘Islamic’ and ‘unIslamic’.

Such a description depicts that “liberal Islamists” are those who have authority in religious circles – and thus likely to be trained in religion. Could they be individuals trained in secular institutions (“secular” here used liberally, no pun intended) yet are lecturing in religion, or is he referring to the traditionally-trained religious teachers aka the asatizah then?

And are there really such entities who are stealthily glide between “traditional” and “secular” circles, hiding behind a cloak of which is hidden underneath the intent of (supra?) national domination? Not only that, “liberal Islamists” also

are adamant on hunting down those whom they identified as proponents of “liberal Islam”…

The author’s assertion that “liberal Islamists” are “hunting down” “liberal Muslims” is an irony, as his final paragraph states that

present-day liberal Islamists pose a danger to the present social structure if they are allowed to roam unnoticed and to be given a wide-playing field in their bid for influence and power. Liberal Islamists are more opportunistic and subtle, less principled and able to disguise or camouflage their real intent (of creating an Islamic State). Their very adoption of dominant progressive and liberal discourses seems to make them able to stealth in-between many social and political institutions without raising alarm. Because of their ability to morph effortlessly, we ought to be worried.

Of course, there’s other parts to the article, like the “liberal Islamist’s” application of both Islamic and “Western” ideas. Who has the claim over such “ideas” and  “methodologies” anyway? Well perhaps we can discuss that another time.

Conclusion: I end up with more questions than answers (so apparent in this post). The article does seem to slant towards rather questionable xenophobic assumptions, IMHO. ;-)



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