New Book Refutes Western Understanding of Freedom

February 13, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
“Sacred Freedom condemns both terrorism and the actions of Muslim political
activist movements, as well as what Oliver terms ‘negligence in religious affairs.”

In his soon to be released book “Sacred Freedom: Western Liberalist Ideologies in the Light of Islam,” Haneef Oliver sheds light on the reluctance the Muslim world has shown in embracing Western ideologies such as democracy, secularism, pluralism, humanism and atheism. Although most parts of the world have readily supported these ideologies, Oliver’s book uses the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, to show why many Muslims have shown different levels of reluctance to embrace these ideologies with open arms.

Sacred Freedom argues that these ideologies have not evolved from a truly objective process, noting that Westerners have arrived at their present secular and humanist state due to encounters with their own religious authorities. Consequently, Oliver states that deductions made from Western historical experiences “cannot always be applied on a universal basis, especially when considering that Muslims’ material progress went hand in hand with their adherence to religion.”

In his chapter candidly entitled “Is Islam a Regressive Religion and Way of Life?”, Oliver demonstrates how - contrary to popular opinion - Muslim civilization flourished when it was adhering to the tenets of Islam, whereas it lost its influence only when it weakened in its observance of these tenets within the last few centuries. Mentioning narrations from the Prophet of Islam about avoiding laziness and striving for all things that are beneficial, Oliver quotes Dr. David King, a historian of science at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, as saying that Muslim civilization prospered for a thousand years. According to King, “no civilization on Earth has flourished that long in that way.”

Sacred Freedom challenges the notion that contemporary liberalist ideologies are based upon logically based conclusions. In an academic yet easily accessible style, Oliver explains that atheism contradicts common sense and known scientific principles. He also illustrates how the evidence he uses to prove the existence of a Creator is no different than the proofs used to settle cases in a secular court of law.

In his refutation of pluralism, the author concentrates on what he calls Thomas Friedman’s “romantically charged notion that God ‘welcomes different human beings approaching him through their own history, out of their language and cultural heritage.’” After quoting Friedman’s statement that God “speaks Arabic on Fridays, Hebrew on Saturdays and Latin on Sundays,” Oliver proceeds to reply to this idea, concluding the chapter with a truly challenging point which he leaves behind for Friedman to consider.

Sacred Freedom’s chapter on freedom, diversity and tolerance commences with the following remark from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi: “We must be aware of the superiority of our civilization, a system that has guaranteed well-being, respect for human rights and — in contrast with Islamic countries — respect for religious and political rights, a system that has as its values understandings of diversity and tolerance.” Replying to this assertion, Oliver provides examples of what he terms “Western fundamentalism” to show that neither the West nor Islamic civilization can make blanket claims about tolerance in matters that contradict their systems of belief.

An analysis is made of how all societies recognize certain limitations to people’s freedoms in order to halt the infringement of other citizens’ freedoms. Oliver explores the subject of what people refer to when setting these limitations, and questions their methodology in deciding their criteria when forming these decisions. Discussing the consequences of excessive indulgence in personal freedoms, Oliver addresses the issue of how individual and societal freedoms can be balanced, and as well, how the welfare of both are closely tied.

Of particular interest to Western readers will be Sacred Freedom’s examination of democracy, particularly in view of western hopes that it will spread throughout the Muslim world as it has done in other countries. Stating that democracy has “no particular set truth or absolute criterion that should be referred to besides the opinion of the majority,” Oliver explains how a democratic system “can create a state that would be just as oppressive as any fascist state.”

The book was named Sacred Freedom due to the author’s conviction that the validity of contemporary liberalist ideologies is not as open to question as people assume. Unique and controversial by its very nature, Sacred Freedom is thought-provoking from its thematic cover to its concluding chapter, and is sure to provide readers with much insight into the Islamic system of belief in important matters that affect individuals, nations and civilizations.