Khaled AlmaeenaKhaled Almaeena

Over the years, the word liberal (which by the way does not yet have an accurate Arabic translation) has become synonymous with anti-Islamic views. The neo-religious in our society hurl abuses at people whom they consider liberal. However, the funny and sad part is that they have no idea what liberalism is. A liberal is someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who shows respect for the civil liberties of all people. If that’s what they mean by liberal, then I am a liberal. Liberalism believes in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in the human heart as the source of national compassion and in the human mind as the source of invention of ideas. It is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in the God-given ability of man to reason and judge, a search for justice for all and a sense of freedom and brotherhood which all humans deserve. Liberalism is a political term based on the philosophy founded on ideas of liberty and equality. It espouses a wide array of views supporting free markets and international cooperation. Liberalism became popular among philosophers and economists in the Western world during the Age of Enlightenment. Many people today do not make a distinction between the terms “liberalism” and “libertinism”. They claim that liberalism is debauchery, a sin, and confuse it with the word “libertinism”. In fact they are two totally different words. The essence of Islam is liberal. Look at some of its teachings: “There is no compulsion in religion”; “To you your religion and to me mine”. And there are many other sayings that illustrate this point of view. It is only during the last 30 years that some Muslim societies began to be transformed into rigid and extremist ones. The preachers of hate among us have caused more damage to us than our enemies. Saudi foreign policy over the decades was a liberal one based on the premise of “noninterference” in the affairs of others. The country was a founding member of the United Nations. King Abdul Aziz surrounded himself with advisers of high caliber from all over the Arab world. Saudi Arabia’s first ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations was a Christian Catholic, Jamil Baroody. He was chosen by King Faisal for his deep understanding of global politics and oratory. The Muslim kings of Spain and India had men in their courts who did not subscribe to their faiths but were useful in keeping the Muslim flag flying high. The beauty of Islam lies in its tolerance and egalitarian philosophy. Liberalism is derived from these teachings that shun killings and bloodshed. Have we ever heard of a liberal blowing himself up? Now you know why I am a liberal. This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on June 14, 2015.