Who Are We? The Istanbul Network is a group of individuals and organisations who are dedicated to rehabilitate and advance the strong commitment to individual freedom, tolerance, the rule of law, the protection of private property, free markets, free speech and limited government in the Muslim world. Most are Muslim believers, others are friends of Muslims. Development of Muslims intellectual thought, particularly with reference to libertarian ideas of individual liberty and responsibility, limited government, free Market economy and rule of law, is our passion. Most Islamic societies today lack freedom. Their political, legal and economic systems lack the underpinning institutions that enable free enterprise and other freedoms. As a result, the majority of citizens in such societies remain in abject poverty. We want to change all that by promoting free market economy and limited government principles.
Islam, Liberty and Individual EmpowermentIslam above any other meaning has always meant freedom from tyranny of any kind and in any form. The very first surah of Quran, Surah Fateha ( The Opening) opens with the declaration of Allah as the creator and sustainer of all, The Rehman and The Rahim and the ultimate judge and owner of the day of the judgment. These three short sentences lay the foundation of individual liberty, freedom of choice, equality, justice and rule of law. Even a cursory glance at history tells us that Islam gained popularity because it empowered the individual through its core message of one God. Islam positively and actively promotes these principles and makes these the very foundation of social justice and freedom from tyranny. The basis of social justice in Islamic civilisations was rule of law, freedom of trade, protection of private person and property and a limited government, where even the authority of the Caliphs was always under check by the independent law givers. It is bewildering that a majority of people view the rule of law in liberal-secular terms and not in liberal-Islamic ones. To quote Wael Hallaq " If there was any pre-modern legal and political culture that maintained the principle of the rule of law so well, it was the culture of Islam ". Liberty is a misunderstood term in the Muslim world where it is taken to be freedom from morals and ethics. We neither believe in nor support such licentious behaviour free from the ethics of Islam
21st Century Challenges facing Islam Human beings have short memories and a great tendency to project their present onto the past. This is pretty detrimental for those who seek truth. While Muslims blame others for spreading negative ideas about Islam the world, very few Muslims have reacted positively to the twin challenges of modernity and Muslim decline. Most of us have had an ostrich like attitude or taken ourselves to a dream land of a grand past. Failure of Muslim civilisation is a failure of Muslim intellectuals, not a failure of Islam. Our ambition is to help setup an intellectual movement throughout the Muslim world, that replicates the time from the first couple of hundred years of Muslim civilisation when Muslim intellectuals freely debated and discussed ideas. The time when ideas were created and older ones adopted and refined in a spirit of free enquiry and tolerance. This we believe is the greatest challenge faced by Muslims civilization.