Freethinking Muslim

Freethinking and Muslim? Really? May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon everyone reading this post no matter your religion, value system or viewpoint.

Yesterday I decided, just out of curiosity to do a Google search on ‘Freethinking and Muslim’. I am sad to say that it produced a shameful mix of hate and confusion. Then I decided to modify the search to ‘freethinking Muslim’. Unfortunately the results were not much better. I found a blog that claimed that the Golden Age of Islam, during the 800 years in Andalusian Spain, were only due to the lack of practicing Muslims in the empire. They claimed that with the teachings of Al-Ghazali the end became unavoidable and all ‘progressive knowledge seeking” was lost. When in fact, during this period of enlightenment in the Muslim world, it was because of the encouragement in the Quran to “seek knowledge” that many scientific and philosophical breakthroughs were made.

How bereft are we as humanity of understanding history and separating fact from fiction. Freethinking by definition means

adj. 1. inclined to forms one’s own opinions rather than depend upon authority, especially about social and religious issues; exhibiting boldness of speculation; skeptical of authority.

Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by C. & G. Merriam Co.

In my opinion this definition needs to be revised and updated for the 21st century to include not escaping simple human values and even practicing a religion. My guess is that the original definition was put in place as a stigma to use for political reason to define dissidents, communists, etc. However, today in the age of widespread knowledge and widespread lack of critical thinking, this definition is used proudly as badge of honor. In my viewpoint, using my updated definition, I am more inclined (pun intended) to proudly wear this label as a badge of honor. Islam teaches us to seek knowledge but not to disobey authority that is just. In this day and age we live a world where most countries in the world enforce authority without justice.

Freethinking is freedom of thought from the insidious babble of the “spin doctors.” Spin doctors is another term that has its origins in the nineteenth century but did not develop into an actual career for another century around the 1980’s. Spin means to tell a tale to sway the stories printed and broadcast by mass media. The original spin doctor also known as the father of PR was Edward Bernays who worked during the WWI in the Wilson administration to promote the idea that America’s war efforts were primarily aimed at “bringing democracy to all of Europe”. Once the war was over he decided to find ways to use it during peace times. His efforts were called public relations.

These were the humble beginnings to the end of free thought. Plant an idea for the sheeple to grasp and believe. But as Muslims we are reminded constantly to “reflect”. We are encouraged to verify information that we are told. If we fail to do that we are also contributing to spreading lies. We are not supposed to be sheeple but pensive reflectors of light. In reflecting, we will think deeply, freely, as prescribed by our Creator to follow the just path. So being free thinking is to be Muslim.

Cordelia Gaffar

Cordelia is a loving mother of three princesses and two princes working towards inculcating love, peace and taqwa.

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