Mustafa Akyol is a senior fellow on Islam and modernity at the Cato Institute and the author of “Reopening Muslim Minds: A Return to Reason, Freedom, and Tolerance.” (St. Martin’s Press, 2021)
Latest from Mustafa Akyol
The birth of Jesus of Nazareth has found veneration not just from Christians but in Islam as well. Regardless of the important differences they attribute to this event, Muslims honor Jesus’ birth almost as much as Christians themselves.
In any society, certain things have to be coercively “commanded,” such as honesty in trade, or “forbidden,” such as theft, murder or oppression. These are literally maaruf, in terms of being “known” to all humanity as common sense. But how people believe in God and worship him are matters of their own conscience, which should be left to their private minds to freely determine.
For the Mutazila, both revelation and reason were from God — as independent paths to the same ethical truths. And the exact meaning of this duality needs to be better grasped, for it is relevant to some of the heated debates about religion, law and ethics held in the world of Islam today.
Islamic scholars in freer societies should help Pakistan by sharing a message that is crucial for the future of not just this Muslim nation but also Islam itself: Killing or tormenting innocent people in the name of the Prophet Muhammad doesn’t protect his “honor.” If anything, it only defames Islam.