Muslims for Liberty Breaking Left/Right Paradigm
Jan 14, 2013 at 1:34 PM
Independent voters reject partisan politics because Team Red and Team Blue get stuck in their positions and stop listening to one another. This can be especially true concerning Islam. Both the left and right seem to have lines in the sand regarding issues like Ground Zero Mosques and Sharia (Islamic law). Enter Will Coley, an American Muslim whose work is eroding this dichotomy and curbing Islamophobia on the far right.
Will Coley got his start in politics when Tennessee, where he had just moved to from Florida, slated a bill to ban Sharia. Much of the conservative and tea party circles were being led in an anti-Islam direction by radicals in those groups. Will, as someone who has studied Islam and the Quran extensively, decided to take action. He performed Q&A Teach-ins for Tea Parties across East Tennessee. He demystified Sharia and got 12-14 of the leaders of those groups to publicly decry the Sharia Ban Bill and to stop attacking Islam in a federation vote.
How's that for rejecting the status quo? Coley then went on to co-found the libertarian Muslim organization Muslims for Liberty (M4L) with "Muslim Agorist" Davi Barker. The organization is, according to M4L's website:
Dedicated to educating and providing educational resources about Islam & Sharia (Islamic law), philosophical Libertarianism, and concepts of freedom. Using education and outreach, M4L highlights the striking parallels between Islam and Libertarianism. M4L seeks to develop a practical methodology for social, economic and political involvement based upon the overlapping principles of Islam and libertarianism. It is hoped that this will assist Americans (both Muslim and Non-Muslim) in rediscovering their ideals of liberty and justice.
Will Coley further adds,
M4L also goes where most Muslims fear to tread. We take our message of Islam and Liberty to those who need to hear it. As you have experienced, we go to talk to the people most often ignored or rejected by our religious community. An air of mistrust of anyone claiming "conservatism" of any kind. We try to reopen those doors to encourage a much needed dialogue.
Does that sound odd? Out of sync with the usual talking points? It certainly is. Liberals like to assert themselves as guardians of Muslims, but many remain uncritical the US's foreign wars in Islamic countries. Many conservatives, on the other hand, assert that Islam is political conspiracy to dominate the globe, championing limiting civil rights of Muslims while waving a banner of freedom.
Coley's presentation, "Islam and Liberty" tells a different story. He makes a convincing and very interesting case that classical liberalism (or libertarianism) is not only compatible with Islam, but contributed to the evolution of classical liberalism. The Liberty Movement is taking this seriously, as shown by Coley's recent Liberty Inspiration Award 2012 5th place win.
A liberated world would serve Muslims by being both pro-market and pro-religious freedom. This also may appeal to Muslim independents who are torn between the two main waring parties.
I asked M4L's Staff why their message of liberty is appealing to independents and followers of Islam. Ramy Osman, M4L's Virginia director, said:
We're a group of people who share ideas about the parallels of libertarianism and Islamic teachings. I think the three main principles being non-aggression, personal liberty and sound money.
Labels are not a big deal, so it doesn't matter if you call yourself Democrat, independent, Republican or Libertarian. What matters are your principles and what those principles cause you to do. I personally don't call myself "libertarian" as I feel it puts me in a box. But we definitely have libertarian leanings and we try to highlight those leanings from a Muslim perspective. We encourage people to break away from the two party system and from supporting most politicians.
The problem with the republican-democrat paradigm is that it perpetuates war, debt, and the erosion of civil liberties. The danger of Obama and his administration is that it silenced all the war critics because now "their guy" is in the white house. So in some ways Obama has done more damage in regards to war, debt, and civil liberties than Bush did. At least under Bush there was some vocal opposition and protests.
Also before the 2012 election M4L issued a statement outlining our recommendations for Muslim Americans, and we said don't vote for Romney or Obama.
If one believes that libertarians represent a non-partisan independent movement, then it is interesting and noteworthy to observe an organization like M4L leading Muslims in an independent non-partisan direction. In the above statement regarding the 2012 election they asked Muslim voters to vote based on ideas, not on the party. That, I think, makes this very relevant to independent voters everywhere and it will be worth watching to see how Muslims for Liberty grows from here.