Is Islam Compatible With Libertarianism?

For several years now, the word libertarianism and people calling themselves have been spreading heavily among young people, and especially in the US. But for many, libertarianism remains somewhat a vague philosophy often accompanied with many stereotypes and misconceptions. Let us first understand what is the real meaning of libertarianism. All libertarians, agree on a very essential and simple rule, which could be said is the cornerstone of the libertarian philosophy, the non-agression Principle, commonly known as NAP. NAP is a ethical principle which states that use of force against a person or his property is illegitimate, unless against someone who has initiated violence or unnecessary force. From there on you could probably understand libertarian stances regarding taxes, laws, war, etc.

Now after reading this, many of will probably go back to the title of this piece, and say, if that’s the case, then of course Islam isn’t compatible with libertarianism. Islamic fanatics are committing despicable acts of terrorism and ‘aggression’ in the name of Islam.

Well not quite, libertarianism and Islam are without a doubt very much compatible. The problem is whenever someone puts Islam and some political argument in one sentence, people quickly think of ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Muslim brotherhood.

These are mere Islamist groups, some more radical than others, but they don’t define Or represent Islam, they only represent themselves.

I don’t want to get in the debate whether Islam or any other religion is “peaceful” or “violent”, because simply religion is neither, religion is religion, the issue is in how people interpret the teachings and doctrines of any certain religion, or how they apply it, that can be peaceful or violent, and Islam is no different.

I’m a Muslim libertarian, and I can say Islam has many libertarian aspects, mentioned in the Quran and Hadiths. First and most important, the very famous Quranic verse: “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:256). This clearly means, there should be no coercion or violence in practicing Islamic laws, nor should people be forced to adhere to these laws. Does that sound familiar? Yes, this verse has the same essence as the libertarian NAP. When talking about faith, people should voluntary chose to adopt and adhere to certain laws, they have to feel and experience this faith on their own, you cannot force them to believe in Islam, it’s completely contradictory to the religion itself.

The free market has a very important role in Islamic law, prophet Mohammad condemned any market intervention. The only time market intervention is necessary in Islam is when there is some type of theft, fraud, and unfair advantage like Riba. Trade is very much welcomed in Islamic law, and many prominent historical Islamic figures were great merchants themselves, engaging in the free market.

In regard to foreign policy, libertarians have a very clear stance regarding interventionism, they are against all wars, if not necessary, meaning war should only be waged when a nation is attacked, no pre-emptive or preventive wars. This is another stance Muslims and libertarians share in common, in which the Quran is very clear on this issue, that war and fighting is only permitted when Muslims are attacked. The Quran is filled with verses reflecting this stance, for example the very clear, “Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors” (2:190).

Yes, Islam encompasses a conservative way of living, but this way of living should not be forced on anyone, people could only chose this way of life. Choice and non-aggression are essential in Islam, the same as libertarianism.

The Muslim world is going through a rough patch, this is one of the darkest eras in the Islamic history, we need reform in the Muslim world, and combining the two aspects of the Islamic faith and libertarian philosophy, light may be around the corner.

One thought on “Is Islam Compatible With Libertarianism?

  1. It’s very difficult to provide a single comment that can do justice to this posting, so in the spirit of brevity, I’d like to concentrate on a single, relatively well-known (whether true or false) Islamic Law, that of killing apostates. To get the libertarian argument out of the way, I don’t think it’s controversial to say that such a law contravenes the non-aggression principle, unless disrespecting a deity is inherently violent.

    A lesser-discussed topic when discussing “What muslims think” hinges on their sectarian identity, which will determine whether, and which of the hadiths they consider to be valid, and what weight they give to the Islamic Law promulgated by modern and historical clerics. An honest discussion of whether Islam is compatible with libertarianism is impossible without determining the frame of reference based on such additional factors.

    In the narrow case of apostates, many hadiths reiterate that the punishment for apostasy, adultery and murder, is execution. A brief overview of the matter can be found here – I don’t propose to quote selectively from it. If the link is to a site that someone thinks is ‘inauthentic’, I’m sure many other more acceptable sites could be found.

    Note, this is only a superficial treatment of the issue, and to be sure, the Quran *itself* says very little about the punishment for apostasy, but then being an adherent of Islam requires adherence to more than just the Quran. The details, such as what *parts* of the Quran and hadiths an individual adheres.

    So, Is Islam compatible with libertarianism? I guess it is, if you believe that in the bible,the Book of John is compatible with Natural Selection and evolution. Do practicing Christians believe in Natural selection and evolution? Some do, some don’t, based on their personal determination, based on the rest of their holy books.

    In the same way, i think it’s disingenuous to select a portion (albeit, superficially, the most important portion) of Islam’s holy books, and wave away an issue which is clearly important in the eyes of many of its practitioners, PRECISELY BECAUSE the matter is so prevalent everywhere else. There is a non-zero percentage of the world’s muslim population whose lives are prescribed not just by the Quran itself, but the hadiths too. hence, a non-zero percentage who are of the opinion that apostates deserve death. How many American libertarians do you, reader, know who believe that I should be executed for saying “There is no God”.

    I’m not aware of any muslim sect that rejects almost all, if not all of the hadiths, considering the Quran itself to be the only jurisprudential guide. If there are any, I salute them, for they *may* be capable of a personal political philosophy that is compatible with libertarianism in this one way.

    For those of you out there who have views broadly in line with second-wave feminism, you might want to pipe in, because in this area, the Quran itself provides ample evidence that gender equality in ‘pure’ Islam is an utter myth.


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