Via the Guardian (by Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol):
It is far better to propose Islam than impose it, for if there is no liberty there can be no genuine religiosity
Last week, during a book tour in London, I spoke to a large group of British Muslims on Islam and liberty. A few of the questions that I received from the audience indicated why discussion on this topic is much needed. "If the state gives the people the freedom to do what they want, then they will follow their temptations," said one Pakistani gentleman. "That's why the Saudi religious police, which you oppose, is a very good system."
In return, I asked him why he relies on state policing, and not individual responsibility, to uphold the morals of Islam. "Isn't is better to propose Islam rather than impose it," I added, "since state dictates can lead not to sincere piety but hypocrisy?"
In my new book on Islam and liberty, I draw upon such oft-forgotten historical and theological sources to argue that Muslims need not need to betray their faith in order to embrace liberal democracy. By accepting other people's "freedom to sin", and "freedom from Islam", I even argue, they will be laying the right ground in which their own faith can flourish. For, as I said to that Pakistani gentleman in London, if there is no liberty, there is no genuine religiosity as well.