Islam in Liberalism
Joseph Massad’s Islam in Liberalism explores what Islam has become in today’s world, with full attention to the multiplication of its meanings and interpretations. He seeks to understand how anxieties about tyranny, intolerance, misogyny, and homophobia, seen in the politics of the Middle East, are projected onto Islam itself. Massad shows that through this projection Europe emerges as democratic and tolerant, feminist, and pro-LGBT rights—or, in short, Islam-free. Massad documents the Christian and liberal idea that we should missionize democracy, women’s rights, sexual rights, tolerance, equality, and even therapies to cure Muslims of their un-European, un-Christian, and illiberal ways. Along the way he sheds light on a variety of controversial topics, including the meanings of democracy—and the ideological assumption that Islam is not compatible with it while Christianity is—women in Islam, sexuality and sexual freedom, and the idea of Abrahamic religions valorizing an interfaith agenda. Islam in Liberalism is an unflinching critique of Western assumptions and of the liberalism that Europe and Euro-America blindly present as a type of salvation to an assumingly unenlightened Islam.
Introduction: The Choice of Liberalism
1 The Democracy Offensive and the Defenses of “Islam”
2 Women and/in “Islam”: The Rescue Mission of Western Liberal Feminism
3 Pre-Positional Conjunctions: Sexuality and/in “Islam”
4 Psychoanalysis, “Islam,” and the Other of Liberalism
5 Forget Semitism!
“This is a compelling work of scholarship by a committed public intellectual that is both insightful and timely, one that speaks to the general public and to academics. Massad does not deny that well intentioned struggles can be pursued under the banner of liberalism and its attendant human rights norms. He insists, however, that such struggles (for example, by activists for nongovernmental organizations) are doomed if they are not cognizant of the role of liberalism as an ideology of colonial and imperial history.”