Book Review: Who Killed Liberal Islam? by Hasan Suroor

Who Killed Liberal Islam?
Author: Hasan Suroor
Publishers: Rupa Publishers
Rating: 4/5

Known to be one of the strictest religions in the world, Islam advocates Sharia- an Islamic canonical law that governs not only the religious rituals but also the day-to-day life activities. Because of this, it is believed that liberalism and Islam cannot coexist. ‘Who Killed Liberal Islam?’ explores the pathos associated with the conflict between the religion and the liberating mindsets. Hasan Suroor further goes on to explain why liberal Islam is not feasible.

With the help of real-life examples and in-depth research, the author probes the ideology of the left-wing Muslims who have alienated themselves from the customs and regulations of Islam but still prefer to call themselves Muslims- Liberal Muslims. The author makes it a point to stress on how important it is to understand that the rigidity of this religion is so deeply rooted in the minds and hearts of its followers that they do not welcome reform ideas from anyone who doesn’t practise Islam. A liberal Muslim is expected to bring about reforms in the form of a radical interpretation of the Quran and incorporation of changes according to the changing times. But several liberal Muslims have tried to make an effort and have failed miserably because of the obstinate mindset of the followers as for them Islam is more about the Friday prayers and Rozas. If anyone tries to enter the no-go areas of the Quran and Sharia, they are believed to be non-Muslims.

Using a very blunt approach, the author calls the entity ‘liberal Muslim’ as an oxymoron and goes on to explain how Islam advocates that a devout Muslim cannot be a liberal. Taking examples of some of the famous liberal Muslims who take the bull by the horns and frequently can be found being a part of controversies- Javed Akhtar and Naseeruddin Shah- the author expresses his disappointment with the treatment meted out to the liberal Muslims. He says and I quote him ‘A tendency to see everything through a Muslim or Islamic prism has led to the shrinking of a secular viewpoint’. Not only is the community at fault but the left-wing liberals, too, have failed to establish any connection with the community. Owing to this abyss, the reforms are always at stake and the Muslim community is swallowed in the chasm.

We know that it will take aeons for the secular revolution to begin but until then it would not be wrong to allow smaller reforms that can be a harbinger of peace and freedom in the community.

Overall, ‘Who Killed Liberal Islam?’ is honest, thought-provoking and bold at the same time. Being the armchair critics that we all are, it will be wrong to classify Muslims as stubborn and regressive. There are reasons why the concept of liberalism is still an elusive concept amongst this population.

Best wishes to the author!

Buying Link: Amazon

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