Freedom Before Shariaa. A Ray of Light Comes From Kuwait

I had to read it twice before sharing it, but Tariq al-Suwaidan, a prominent Kuwaiti Muslim Scholar did announce that freedom should come before Shariaa.

The first thing I looked for was a catch. A little detail that would undermine his position, something like perhaps: “as long as we don’t choose to leave Islam”. But no, he seemed to be talking of real, honest liberty:

a human being is free in his movements and where he wants to belong, and convictions are what move people, and not force

This is really refreshing because it breaks from the common understanding in the region that Muslim moderates are not truly liberal, but people who just know how to “tolerate” and befriend people from other religions.

The natural extension of Mr. Suwaidan’s idea is that a civil state should rule and treat citizens equally under a civil law, regardless of what their religions and beliefs are. Now that would be a true breakthrough in modern Islamic thinking.


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  • http://oussama-hayek.blogspot.com OH

    Wow. Thanks for sharing.

  • Dania

    this and the syrian muslim brotherhood’s charter yesterday make for a serious breakthrough… I just hope its not all lies cause we know better with religious groups and figures.

  • naja

    Thanks for this, Mustapha. It’s an eye opener. Now a cynical reality check would suggest that islamists are actually a little worried about the power they suddenly have and are experiencing fear of failure. Nevertheless, a recent trip to Egypt made me stop and reconsider the dubious merits of democracy when it becomes the rule of the lowest common denominator.

    Frankly, Mustapha, I think that islamists are a bit like a mainstream popular TV station as opposed to the BBC Reithian ethos which strongly advocates a form of edutainment instead of pandering to what people like. I still believe that islam needs its own enlightenment and that it is in desperate need for bright intellectual leadership rather than theological fundamentalism. In fact, now is the chance for an islamic renaissance but it is sadly being thwarted by imbeciles and opportunists. The Kuweiti you quote may suggest some fresh air, the Egyptian islamic presidential candidates suggest a far less fragrant alternative.

  • Mariam

    I won’t say much to this but I love Tareq Suwaidan.. I’ve heard him speak a few times. He once said that Canada is the almost perfect example of an “Islamic” country– which goes to show.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing.

  • Mustapha

    @ OH
    Anytime!

    @Dania
    Indeed that does look like a rising (if very shy) trend in the region. Fingers crossed, because this looks really promising..

    @Naja
    Exactly, that would be how I’d describe the state of Islamists and Muslims today..

    @Mariam
    I’m surprised that didn’t make it as a soundbite in the conservative party’s electoral campaigns :)

  • Bronxman

    It’s for articles like this – and the replies – that makes this blogsite a really worthwhile place to go for outsiders like me. There is so much political misinformation, stereotypical opinions, black and white/right and wrong positions out there that stuff that doesn’t fit in normally doesn’t get to see the light of day. Good stuff Mus.

  • CopyCat

    I wouldn’t trust those Islamists on anything. I dismiss all this and attribute it to posturing. They would say anything to get to power

  • fatsamurai

    I live in Kuwait and no offense to Dr. Suwaidan, but he is known around here for only talking the talk, his ideas might be good but we need more action less rhetoric.