Foundations_of_Tolerance_in_ the_ Western_ Thought:_ Atif_ Hussain


Every year on December 25th, secular humanists in Muslim societies are seen teaching Muslims “tolerance.” Not only this but their western teachers are always trying to fool the people of the world into believing that there can be no room in your religion as much as “tolerance” as in the concept of liberalism. So let’s see what this “tolerance” is all about.

Usually, people think words express themselves with their truest meanings and they don’t have certain terminology and context behind them. Among such words is the word Tolerance which has been widely spread by Humanists in our age to give validation to Liberalism. Taking the Western conception of Tolerance as a valid means to say that we have taken the Western conception of Individuality, Autonomy, and Self-determination as Absolute, a value which cannot be violated in any sense. The usual meaning of Tolerance is “the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behavior that one dislikes or disagrees with”. But when we accept this as value then it means that we have taken this dogma or assumption as true or factual to an extent that truth or falsehood, good or evil are determined by the Individual ability of the individual. In other words, the intrinsic value of a claim doesn’t lie in the claim itself but in the ability of self-determination and autonomy of an individual. This further makes value Relative. So this certain definition of Tolerance lays foundations for a certain kind of society and state in which any kind of value which do not recognize the concept of Human autonomy, self-determination as a value and recognize other claims as a value like the Revelation, customs, culture, race, etc, then society or state which has taken Autonomy and self-determination as a value will not Tolerate such a state and society and consider her to be tyrannical, illogical and oppressive.

Liberal style state and its State institutions have a key position for such a conception of Tolerance. We also believe that with this concept we can also be able to understand the liberal concept of “Freedom”. Freedom according to the Liberal worldview is an ability or eligibility to do something freely. Meaning, that a person should set his goals according to his self-determination, intentions and then turn them into practical expression without any outside pressure. Freedom is the most basic and demanding aspect of Liberalism. Liberalism as a whole rests on Individuality. Liberal State seeks to establish a Supra-individual society based on Individuality. Every Individual enters into an Individualist collectivity for sake of protecting his Individuality. This paves way for a chaotic community that’s why Rights-oriented or Identity -politics is an integral part of the Liberal State because there are no Objective Moralities in Liberalism but are Subjective preferences. Currently, this anarcho-Freedom has been advocated and pushed under the umbrella of tolerance by postmodernity from micro-politics and has been enforced through macro-politics by the modernist ruling elite in the West. But if the person’s capacity is to be measured on another scale, like the Will of God, traditions, ethnic prejudices, etc. Then it will be concluded according to the Liberal worldview that the “freedom” as a “value” has been violated. That’s why religious claims, mega-narratives, and sensibilities, etc, etc don’t function as a scale or criteria in the Liberal State. The Inter-faith dialogue and harmony under the slogan of “tolerance” actually mean that either all of the religious claims are equally valid or invalid. It’s like 0 + 0 = 0 in theory and practice. So much for the claim of Pluralism. When this theory forms into practice, then a certain legal system needs to be established. Not only legal but it also seeks to eradicate any set of values whether they are Individualistic or Collectivist, Political and Economic systems if the scale or criteria of such worldview don’t recognize the Liberal concept of Freedom. This Liberal concept of Freedom and Tolerance is a never-ending process of establishing a Liberal worldview upon any other State or Society which has a different worldview than the Liberal worldview. This sort of Tolerance and Freedom doesn’t have any limits since the domains of Individualistic Freedoms always increase. So we can say that such Freedom as a Value cannot be enforced without certain State Institutions and such institutions cannot be formed without taking the certain concept of Tolerance as the basic scale, criteria, or value in Liberal or non- Liberal societies.

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