Mustafa Akyol Profile picture
Senior Fellow on Islam and modernity at @CatoInstitute. Senior Lecturer at @BostonCollege. Author of a few books. In 🇹🇷 @AkyolMustafa. In ♥️ w @riadaaa.
প্রদীপ্ত মৈত্র (Pradipto Moitra) Profile picture 1 subscribed
Sep 9 5 tweets 1 min read
French secularism, laicite, is inherently oppressive, as its key aim is to "protect the state *from* religion," with little protection for freedom *of* religion.

It has poisoned the Muslim world, too, with imports in Turkey & Tunisia. It gave a bad name to any "secularism." Conversely, in America, secularism ("separation of church & state") was built on the key aim of "protecting religion from the state."

That's why in America, religious freedom is strong.

And that's one reason why American Muslims are much freer, happier, and better integrated.
May 13 5 tweets 1 min read
People who support #Erdogan say he made Turkey wealthier, greater, and freer.

Which is true... For his first decade in power, when he had principled & competent people in his team.

Then he began replacing them with yes-men, while turning growingly authoritarian and irrational. Why Erdogan changed that way?

Lord Acton has the answer: "Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Ibn Khaldun also has the answer: Conquerors of a system soon turn into what they conquered.

So, Erdogan began imitating injustices of the past that he once condemned.
Dec 5, 2022 9 tweets 4 min read
Does Islam really require "religion police"?

From Iran to Saudis to the Taliban, the answer is yes, with two references: the Quranic duty of "commanding the right," the Prophetic institution of hisba.

I challenge this view in my new essay @newlinesmag:… Here are some highlights:

The Quranic duty of "commanding the right and forbidding the wrong" is interestingly worded: the "good" is #maruf, which means "known." It may refer to ethico-legal values that are commonly known — and not necessarily all Sharia.…
Dec 4, 2022 5 tweets 3 min read
I would say:

Of course, “democracy is good only insofar as it produces good outcomes.”

For there are higher values: freedom, justice, human rights, human flourishing. Any political system, at any time and milieu, is as good as it serves these timeless values. Put simply, #democracy is about "who governs."

#Liberalism is about "how they govern." (Within rule of law, and without violating human rights.)

So, of course, I value liberalism over democracy. Without it, democracy can collapse into majoritarian tyranny, even fascism.
Sep 12, 2021 4 tweets 3 min read
What is the future of #Islam under the #Taliban?

My guess: #Afghanistan will catch up with #Iran in raising the greatest number of ex-Muslims — atheists, Christians, etc.

For, as I wrote before, dictating a faith is the best way to make people lose it:… Surely, disenchantment with religion has complex reasons everywhere, but exposure to violence, oppression, or bigotry in the name of religion is a significant force in the Muslim world, recently in Turkey and some Arab countries, too, as I wrote here:…
Aug 31, 2021 4 tweets 2 min read
A venom that had brought division, hatred and savagery to Muslims from the very first century of Islam is #takfirism: To declare other Muslims with different opinions and beliefs as "kafir" (infidel), which typically follows with the imagined right to kill them. That venom had a major revival in the past few decades.

ISIS practices it in real life, in the most extreme form, by killing any Muslim it can brand as "apostate."

Relatively milder takfiris are active on Twitter. They don't physically take arms; but they keep throwing takfir.
Apr 22, 2021 5 tweets 2 min read
“We Muslims need a major renewal in religion by accepting the full meaning of the Qur’anic maxim, ‘There is no compulsion in religion.’

So no more religious policing, no threats to ‘apostates’ or ‘blasphemers’.”

Interview with me by Pakistan’s @GVS_News:… I also said:

#Pakistan had the right approach to religion at its birth as the great Ali Jinnah put it:

“You are free. You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship; that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”
Apr 21, 2021 4 tweets 2 min read
The fiery Pakistani Islamists seen in the photo below (via @nytimes) are misquoting the #Quran.

Verse 8:59 that they apparently sloganized to justify "killing blasphemers" - their big passion - has nothing to do with punishing blasphemy...… The verse says, "Those who disbelieve think they will escape; they will not."

According to great the Sunni exegete Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, this may be a reference to a punishment by God in the afterlife - not by Muslims on earth.

And even the latter option isn't about blasphemy.
Apr 5, 2021 10 tweets 6 min read
"The Muslims Who Inspired Spinoza, Locke & Dafoe"

The wisdom of #IbnTufayl & #IbnRushd in reconciling religion & reason helped the European #Enlightenment.
Today it can help us Muslims, too.

My new piece in @nytopinion - and a teaser for my new book:… "Hayy ibn Yaqzan," the world’s first philosophical novel by 12th c Muslim polymath #IbnTufayl, made a bestseller in early modern Europe.

It inspired Enlightenment thinkers & Quaker theologians. They were allured by its religious #humanism: a cure to religious violence & bigotry.
Nov 8, 2020 6 tweets 5 min read
I see that, in reaction to Macron, many Muslims deny, "Islam is in crisis."

But let's be honest: Of course, #Islam is in #crisis.

Just like Christianity was in the 16th century; when Catholics & Protestants were slaughtering each other, and "heretics" were burnt at the stake. Our religion #Islam is in a big crisis, because:

We are the only religion today in the world whose mainstream authorities may justify killing "apostates" or "blasphemers."

Or flog or imprison sinners.

Or whose adherents may bomb the place of worship of the "heretical" sect.
Nov 2, 2020 5 tweets 4 min read
Many #Muslims want to see (even enforce) a world without any #blasphemy against Islam, any offense.

But that is NOT going to happen - as the #Quran tells us in 3:186. It rather tells that Muslims will SURELY hear "much abuse" from others.

In return, it just advises #patience. And how this #patience looks like?

The #Quran specifies that in 6:68 and then 4:140. It just says "do not sit with" those who mock your faith.

Today, perhaps it could also mean don't buy their publications, don't follow them on social media.

No killing. Not even censorship.
May 5, 2020 9 tweets 4 min read
I often see hardcore #Sunni accounts condemning the #Shia, for the latter "denigrate the #sahaba," the Prophet's companions.

They can't realize that this is because the Shia have a different version of the history of early Islam.

And the Sunni history is just another version. Personally, I would not condemn any of the early figures in Islam - but I would not sacralize them either.

#Ali and #Aisha went to war over power. The all glorious sahaba killed each other for power. Obviously this was a very human history, whose full truth we may never know.