Freedom in Islamic Political Thought and Justice and Its Islamist Agents
This chapter explores the notion of freedom in Islamic political thinking and the idea of justice as a defining value in Islam. If the value of freedom is widely acknowledged in the liberal traditions, how is it experienced in the context of classical Muslim ideas, political thinking, and modern practices? The chapter argues that liberal democracy’s emphasis on individual conscience and untrammeled freedom poses a practical challenge to political Islam, which gives little consideration for individual freedom in Islamic governance. The chapter further postulates that “justice” is an elusive idea, much like freedom and “happiness.” As such, the validation of violence in pursuit of justice is a problem for the justice project of political Islam. Islamist groups often do not shy away from associating themselves with irhaab (political violence), which is categorized in the neo-liberal order as terrorism. This postulation raises a key set of questions: Can violence in pursuit of justice be justified? Should terrorism be used to define all forms of violence, or merely non-institutionalized, political violence?