Mythologies of Liberal, Conservative and Fundamentalist Islam-Part 1
“Mythologies” is the title of a book by the post-structuralist theorist Roland Barthes. It is a collection of essays examining the tendency of contemporary social value system to create modern myths. Roland Barthes didn't propound the theory of myth for Islam, however it could serve as a formidable tool to deconstruct the myths of liberal, conservative and fundamentalist Islam fro which me and other Muslims has been struggling with for years.
In his last sermon delivered in the 'Uranah valley of Mount Arafat' , Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was reported as saying “O People, NO PROPHET OR APOSTLE WILL COME AFTER ME AND NO NEW FAITH WILL BE BORN. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand my words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Qur'an and my example the SUNNA and if you follow these you will never go astray” The Prophet (PBUH) did not say he has left behind, Liberal, Conservative, Fundamentalist, Tijaniyah, Ahmaddiyah. In Qur'an Chapter 3 verse 19, Allah (SWT) says “the true religion with Allah is Islam…” Cleary Allah does not make mention of Liberal, Conservative, and Fundamental Islam among others. Allah has repeated over and over again in the Qur'an that the religion he has ascribed to us is Islam. In Qur'an Chapter 3 verses 84-85, Allah (SWT) says:
84. Say: "We believe in Allah, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to Allah do we bow our will (in Islam)."
85. If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost (All spiritual good). (Yusuf Ali's Translation)
These verses of the Qur'an clarifies that the religion Allah (SWT) has given to mankind is Islam, and even went further and warn that He will never accept any religion apart from Islam. There are several other verses in the Qur'an in which Allah (SWT) has made clear the fact that there is only one religion and that is Islam. It is also reported that the prophet (PBUH) said, the three questions that a man will be ask in his grave or Barzagh will be about his Lord, the Prophet and his religion.
Having made it significantly clear that surely the religion of Allah (SWT) is one and only one true Islam, the question that arises is that from where rose Liberal, Conservative, and Fundamental and other forms of Islam?
In writing about the process of mythologization, Roland Barthes refers to the tendency of socially constructed notions, narratives, and assumptions to become "naturalized" in the process, that is, taken unquestioningly as given within a particular culture. These socially constructed notions according social theorists are the by-products (often unintended or unconscious) of countless human choices rather than laws resulting from divine will or nature. It can be clearly be identified from Barthes mythology theory and the theory of Social constructionism that the myths of Liberal, Conservative and Fundamental Islam has nothing to do with the religion of Islam but rather are human choices.
There is no such thing like Liberal, Conservative or Fundamental Islam. These are contemporary “myths” carefully constructed for two reasons. They are created by us to justify certain actions of ours that are either contrary to the teachings of Islam or to justify later innovations that have been (whether consciously or unconsciously) included in Islam.
Insha' Allah in part 2, I will discuss the effects of the myths of Liberal, Conservative, and Fundamental Islam on us as Muslims and our Religion in the Western World. How it shapes the perception of Islam to non-Muslims and the message it conveys to both Muslims and non-Muslims. Finally as Muslims, how can we repair the damaged image of Islam- A religion of peace?
Adamu Abdallah Awudu