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Islamism vs. Islam and Rawlsianism vs. Liberalism

I recently had an exchange with Shadi Hamid, Director of Research at the Brookings Doha Center & Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. We discussed Rawls, liberalism, Islamism and Islam. It is an ongoing conversation, and here is the first episode.


  1. It all started with the following tweets from Shadi on Arabist's article "what Islamists want vs. what liberals want":
  2. Irritated at that comment, and admittedly aggressive in the first one, I tweeted about how liberalism is neutral when it comes to religion:
  3. A few days later, Shadi responded by recommended an article to read Lenn Goodman's article the "Road to Kazanistan" in the American Philosophical Quarterly.
  4. Making for an enjoyable New Year's Eve read, I went through what was a long article critical of Rawlsian Liberalism as one that is premised on certain moral values that seeks to force and enforce those values. This makes Rawlsianism, essentially, just like religion, say Islamism. Hence, both are essentially non-liberal. That I agree on. I am not a Rawlsian Liberal, as I will clarify in the sequel. However, I fault both Lenn Goodman as well as Shadi Hamid for making Ralwsianism as the only form of liberalism (as, also, I will clarify below). Rawls is not liberalism, just as much as Islamism is not Islam.