September 2023: Islam and Liberty

Please join us in September/October 2023 for a Virtual Reading Group with Mustafa Akyol


We appreciate your interest in this virtual reading group. Unfortunately, this VRG is full and we are no longer accepting registrations. We invite you to check out our upcoming events here. We hope to see you at a future VRG!


Where does Islam, the world’s second largest religion, stand on the universal idea of liberty, meaning freedom from external restraint? There is no simple answer. For some Muslims, liberty is an Islamic value established by Qur’anic verses such as the famous maxim: “There is no compulsion in religion.” For others, this only means that there should be no forced conversions to Islam, but those who happen to be Muslim are subject to laws of apostasy and religious policing, while anyone can be harshly punished for blasphemy. Whether Islam calls for states of its own, based on Muslim supremacy, or whether Muslims can aspire for liberal states with equal rights for all is another important debate. 

This virtual reading group offers an introduction to the key arguments on these questions, to discuss whether an Islamically legitimate liberalism is necessary, possible and viable.

Session I: Tuesday, September 12, 2023, 10:00-11:00 am EDT, Islam and Religious Freedom 

Abdullah Saeed, The Islamic Case for Religious Liberty,

Daniel Philpott, "Seven Seeds of Freedom In Islam

Mustafa Akyol, “Liberty Was Islam’s First Call,” Liberty Matters, October 2021

Session II: Tuesday, September 19, 2023, 10:00-11:00 am EDT, Sharia Matters

Ahmet Kuru, “Muslim Politics Between Sharia and Democracy

Mustafa Akyol, “Why we need to reform sharia—now

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na`im, "Islam, State and Politics: Separate but Interactive"

Session III: Tuesday, September 26, 2023, 10:00-11:00 am EDT, Western and Islamic Liberalisms

Mustafa Akyol, Why, as a Muslim, I Defend Liberty, Chapter 8, "Is Liberty a Western Conspiracy?” 

Edward Omar Moad, "Honored Since Adam: Islam and the Value of Human Freedom

Joy Samad, "John Locke and Muslim Liberalism," Journal of Church and State, Vol. 53, No. 1 (Winter 2011), pp. 84-108