Mustafa Akyol Profile picture
Senior fellow at @CatoInstitute. Opinion writer for @NYTOpinion. In ♥️ w @riadaaa. Author of "Reopening Muslim Minds." Order: https://t.co/fcmljXYNl2
22 Apr
“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:
globalvillagespace.com/exclusive-must…
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.”
I also said:

“Some of the #Orientalist critiques of the Islamic world have been indeed prejudiced and crude, but the defensive reaction to this problem has turned into another mistake, as it avoids the healthy self-criticism we Muslims need today.”
Read 5 tweets
21 Apr
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...
nytimes.com/2021/04/20/wor…
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.
Because the context of the verse makes it clear that these specific "Those who disbelieve" were Meccan polytheists who attacked and persecuted Muslims in the first place.

No wonder 2 verses later, in 8:61, we read:

"if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also]."
Read 4 tweets
5 Apr
"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:
nytimes.com/2021/04/05/opi…
"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.
“Hayy ibn Yaqzan”s message was bold for its time: man was blessed with divine revelation from above, and with reason & conscience from within.

So, religion was a path to truth, but not the only path.

So, people could be wise & virtuous without religion or a different religion.
Read 10 tweets
8 Nov 20
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.
The common apology, "it is just Muslims, not Islam" doesn't help much.

Because those coercive or violent Muslims are acting in the name of Islam as they sincerely understand it.

So, we will not get out of this crisis unless we question their understanding and all its bases.
Read 6 tweets
2 Nov 20
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.
In other words, as I noted before (as in the linked piece) there is absolutely no basis in the Qur'an for attacking blasphemers, even silencing them.

The problem, as in the case of apostasy, only comes from post-Quranic texts - all open to doubt & debate.
nytimes.com/2015/01/14/opi…
Read 5 tweets
5 May 20
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.
Whether you are #Sunni or #Shii, the immediate post-Prophetic Islam isn't too rosy.

It includes coercive wars (on "ridda"), nepotism, tribalism, assassination, and lots of intra-Muslim bloodshed.

So, to say that Islam brought a "perfect political system" isn't convincing.
Read 9 tweets