By Imdad Hussain
A difficult question, i.e., if Islam supports civil liberties, challenges contemporary scholarship on Islam. On one hand, a lot of scholarship denies that Islam supports or is capable of civil liberties. This scholarship links Islam with violence, un-freedom and un-democracy. Though this scholarship has wider appeal; it has acquired almost a hegemonic status. Apocalyptic titles such as Stop the Islamization of America, Breeding Bin Ladens, and The Great Confrontation: Europe and Islam through the Centuries make discursive closures on Islam as a violent religion. The books like Counseling and Psychotherapy with Arabs and Muslims: A Culturally Sensitive Approach point to the idiosyncratic Western views about Islam. Writing on Islam has become a highly profitable object of observation, study and analysis. These apocalyptic studies stigmatize Islam instead of analyzing, understanding or engaging with it. Some of the authors on Islam have limited perspectives: their knowledge is limited to newspaper reports of Bin Laden and Taliban as sole representative of Islam. Many analysts of Islam share some proclivities but they take Islam as a problem. They focus more on Islam as a doctrine and take Islamic writings of ideologues such as Syed Qutb and Syed Abul Ala Maudoodi as authentic Islam. Islam, however, is beyond the writings of Qutb and Maudoodi if it is studied as living experience and as history.
Imdad Hussain completed his Masters (2005) and PhD in Public Policy (2010) from National Graduate Institute of Policy Studies, Tokyo. The title of his PhD dissertation was “State Power, Public Policy and Religion: Islamization of Education in Pakistan.” He has extensively investigated Islamization of education in Malaysia and Singapore. Currently, he is Assistant Professor at Center for Public Policy and Governance at Forman Christian College University Lahore. He teaches Urban Growth, Environment and Security in South Asia and Environment and Public Policy. He has served as Instructor of Public Sector Management to the 38th Common of the Civil Services Academy of Pakistan. He also works with Punjab Urban Resource Center, Muawin and Saiban: these NGOs work for the urban poor. His interests include interfaith harmony, Islamization and urban policies. He has recently published Thirsty Cities: Analyzing Drinking Water Policy in Punjab.