Clash of ideologies: Islam & Liberalism, a case of morality & human rights

There are many areas where there are contradictions between Islam with liberalism on principles. One of them is the ideological. The Liberal utilitarianism is generally held to be the view that the morally right action is the action that produces the most good or pleasure. The classical liberal utilitarians, such as, J.Bentham and J. Stuart Mill, identified the good with pleasure. Bentham argued that, “Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do…They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think..” He further argued that “it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong.” In other words, one can do whatever it desires for pleasure as long as it does not harm anyone else, and this is a very popular narrative among advocates of liberalism. On contrary, Islam negate this concept on ideological grounds and states in the Quran (45:23) that, “Did you ever consider the case of him who took his desire as his god, and then Allah caused him to go astray despite knowledge, and sealed his hearing and his heart, and cast a veil over his sight? Who, after Allah, can direct him to the Right Way? Will you not take heed?” Abul Ala Maududi, provide analysis on this ayah and states that, ‘”Desire as his god” implies that one should become a slave of his lusts and desires. He should do whatever he likes whether God has forbidden it, and should not do what he dislikes, whether God has made it obligatory. When a man starts obeying something like this, it means that his deity is not God but the one whom he is obeying without question, no matter whether he calls him his lord (with the tongue) or not, and carves out an image of him and worship him or not. For when he has worshiped him directly without question, it is enough to make him a deity and after this practical shirk one cannot be absolved from the guilt of shirk only because he did not call the object of his worship as his deity with the tongue, nor prostrated himself before it.”
Therefore, the notion of Islam to control selfish desires contradict the philosophical notion of Liberal utilitarianism that advocates for pursuing those desires in the pretext of “Liberty”. Moreover, unlike Liberalism, for Islam, the measurement of right and wrong are the teachings of Quran and Sunnah, not the ‘greatest happiness of greatest number.’ As Quran (12:40 & 18:26) stipulates that its the absolute conviction Allah in One in “His Judgment” and in “His Legislation”. Meaning that only He in the ruling Judge, Sovereign and the Legislator which has the right to declare what is lawful and what is unlawful or to punish those who do not abide by His Laws, and “Allah makes none to share His judgments and His Rule”
Similarly, the case of liberal interpretation of human rights is also not much different, it also deeply rooted in the in the idea of “Liberty” and “utilitarianism”, that justifies pursuing human desires in the pretext of human rights. According to liberal utilitarianism, humans have the right to pursue their desires as long as it does not cause harm to anyone else. This means that many of the acts that are forbidden in Islam, such as, homosexuality, alcoholism, fornication, drugs, apostacy, illicit businesses, Riba, blasphemy and many other things that fall under the domain of ‘Haqooq Allah’, their violation are totally permissible in the pretext of “human rights”. Somewhere down the line, it would not be a matter of surprise if proponents of liberal values, start advocating for legitimization for incest, cheating on spouse, cannibalism, lying, or molesting dead animals in the pretext for human right as none of these things hurt anyone. Furthermore, the case of liberal interpretation of women rights is also not much different. Feminist scholar, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie argues, “We teach girls shame. Close your legs. Cover yourself. We make them feel as though by being born female, they are already guilty of something. And so, girls grow up to be women who cannot say that they have desires. Who silence themselves. Who cannot say what they truly think.” However, if one’s desires are intended to rebel against morality, ethical values, norms, principles and practices prescribed in Quran and Sunnah than that person is basically switching masters from God to one’s own desires. In other words, that person is preferring to be in a perpetual slavery of its own desires rather than obedience to Allah and His Messenger. Moreover, it would not be wrong to argue that the “Fundamental Liberal Principle” of “Liberty” is surprisingly a perpetual slavery of one own’s desires, which is not much different from narcissism. Whereas Islam asserts not only to control selfish desires, but also to “obey Allah and obey the Messenger” (4:59, Quran). In Islam, no Muslim has the right to violate ‘Haqooq Allah’ or right to commit a sin in the pretext of “liberty”. According to a Sahih hadith, it is essential that all sins or crimes should be condemned and stopped, regardless of the fact that whether they are a violation of “Haqooq Allah” or “Haqooq-Ul-Ibad”. It Is reported in Sahih Muslim that, Abu Sa`eed al-Khudree RA who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (?) say, “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart (by condemning it in the heart)- and that is the weakest level of faith.”
Therefore, the interpretation of morality and human rights comes from objective analysis of Quran and Sunnah, unlike liberalism, where it is a subjective matter. While true liberty comes from obedience to Allah, when one becomes fearlessly from the worldly fears while only fearing Allah.

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