Coming soon: Islam & Liberty - an online platform featuring articles, podcast, videos, and more.
You may have noticed that I describe myself as an “Islamic libertarian” in my bio. I do that for two reasons: Because it’s accurate, and because I derive some kinda pleasure from watching people have meltdowns over the phrase “Islamic libertarian”. “Are you kidding me? That’s an oxymoron. Doesn’t Islam and liberty conflict with one another?”
The question of Islam & liberty has defined my intellectual pursuit since 2011 - and that’s some rough territory. I had already called myself an Islamic libertarian before the Arab Spring - but it was during its flowering, between 2011 and 2014, that my ideas about Islam & Liberty evolved most, and took shape.
Prior to the Arab Spring, our intellectual scene was segmented and segregated; different intellectual circles were isolated from one another, and rarely interacted, and when they occasionally did, it wasn’t always pleasant or illuminating.
That seemed to be the norm until those glorious days in 2011, when everyone poured into the same squares across the Arab world. The sit-ins of the Arab Spring weren’t just protest camps - they were also lively intellectual hotbeds, where ideas were furiously debated. In parallel, a similar phenomenon took place in Arabic social media, leading to the flowering of a new and dynamic online public sphere.
Various ideas and ideological currents flooded into this new public sphere - and while sometimes they clashed angrily, often they didn’t. There were fascinating debates and an exhilarating cross-germination of ideas. The inquiries spanned a depth, breadth, and width corresponding to our dreams - politics, identity, history, theology, values, governance, and the future.
This flowering was tragically short-lived, as anyone familiar with the story knows painfully well. The period since has been defined by crises - a counter-revolution followed by an ISIS caliphate, followed by a further rise of populism and authoritarianism. Yet even as I became a political refugee and an exiled dissident after 2014, I carried the same questions and conversations with me. Where stands Islam amid all of this?
Who speaks for Islam, and what is “Islamic”? How do we, as believing Muslims, chart a path to the future? Do we cower away under the pressure of modernity, seeking the comfort of identity? Do we defer to the “official”, state-sanctioned Islamic establishment, even as it advertises its obsequiousness to corrupt dictators? Do we go on a search for the most “authentic” Islam, even as we disagree on matters of basic values? Do we engage in the social and political struggles of our age for justice and liberty, and defer or ignore these pressing questions?
It is out of all of these questions - and more - that our project, “Islam & Liberty”, arose. Our new platform aims to host conversations, contribute to debates, elevate voices, and further ideas. Above all, we want to offer this platform as a home for Muslims around the world who believe passionately in human rights, human dignity, liberty, and social justice - and want to have intelligent conversations that engage their faith, tradition, history, and values.
We don’t know what this project will evolve into - and we find that kinda exciting. This is a beachhead from which Muslims can think - openly, but also robustly - about the future. We figure the conversations will also be very interesting for non-Muslims who are interested in the status and evolution of Muslim intellectual currents and how they engage our current moment in history, and how they think about the future.
Do note that this is not, fundamentally, a theological project. Our founding members are believing Muslims, well read in Islamic history and tradition - but we do not present ourselves as religious scholars or clerics. This takes nothing away from the quality of our work - we will always strive to be lucid, rigorous, curious, and intellectually honest. Our inquiries can delve deeply into topics across history and geography - but our focus will always be on the future. And although we can be quite opinionated when it comes to matters of principle - we will always strive to be receptive and open minded.
Islam & Liberty launches this spring - an online platform featuring articles, podcast, videos, and more. The platform inherits Kawaakibi Foundation’s vision: A world free from tyranny, terrorism, and foreign intervention. A world where native agency is honored, and human rights are sacrosanct. For Islam, for liberty, and for our future.
A Very Special Request
After long and careful deliberation, we decided to tether our platform to our audience’s support - to your support.
Unlike many of the dictators we expose, we aren’t wading in cash. At the same time, we do not want to take on debt; we do not want to seek the support of institutional funders who want to control our agenda; we do not want to become addicted to grants; and we do not want to have ads or commercial sponsors. You - our audience - will be the backbone of our support.
This can only work in one case - if you support us. Please click through and join our Patreon, where you can pledge as little as $1 a month towards our budget. And if you’re willing to pledge at least $5 a month or more, we have an exciting list of exclusive, member-only products lined up for you.
We literally cannot do this without you. How fast we scale up to our true potential depends upon how many of you place your dollars where your values are, and back teams and ventures you believe in. Click here to make your pledge.