BR Ambedkar on Islam and Islamic Society-An Excerpt from his Book Pakistan or Partition of India

BR Ambedkar on Islam and Islamic Society-An Excerpt from his Book Pakistan or Partition of India

What we don’t know, however, is what he
thought of the other great religion of the world – Islam. Because this facet of Ambedkar has been hidden
from our general discourse and textbooks, it may come as a surprise to most that Ambedkar
thought frequently of Islam and spoke frequently on it. The cold and cruel India of the young Ambedkar,
that shaped his views on Hinduism and Hindus – and of which I talked of previously – soon
became the cold and cruel India of the old Ambedkar, allowing him, through a study of
Islam and Muslims, to make sense of a nation hurtling towards a painful and bloody partition. A distillate of Ambedkar’s thoughts on Islam
and Muslims can be found in ‘Pakistan Or The Partition Of India’, a collection of
his writings and speeches, first published in 1940, with subsequent editions in 1945
and 1946. It is an astonishing book in its scope and
acuity, and reading it one realises why no one talks of it, possessing as it does the
potential to turn Ambedkar into an Islamophobic bigot for his worshippers on the Left. Here, then, is Ambedkar on Islam: “Hinduism
is said to divide people and in contrast Islam is said to bind people together. This is only a half-truth. For Islam divides as inexorably as it binds. Islam is a close corporation and the distinction
that it makes between Muslims and non-Muslims is a very real, very positive and very alienating
distinction. The brotherhood of Islam is not the universal
brotherhood of man. It is brotherhood of Muslims for Muslims only. There is a fraternity, but its benefit is
confined to those within that corporation. For those who are outside the corporation,
there is nothing but contempt and enmity. The second defect of Islam is that it is a
system of social self-government and is incompatible with local self-government, because the allegiance
of a Muslim does not rest on his domicile in the country which is his but on the faith
to which he belongs. To the Muslim ibi bene ibi patria [Where it
is well with me, there is my country] is unthinkable. Wherever there is the rule of Islam, there
is his own country. In other words, Islam can never allow a true
Muslim to adopt India as his motherland and regard a Hindu as his kith and kin.” This scathing indictment by Ambedkar of Islam
never finds a mention in our history books. But then this is India – a Hero must not
be perceived as a Villain even though the misperception is entirely of our making. Well, we know better; he didn’t mean to
say those things about Islam; perhaps he was misguided; let us look at the context; damn,
no, that’s not of any help here; tell you what, let us gag him; for the greater good;
for communal harmony; for the sake of IPC Section 295A and our peaceful future. Selective reading of Ambedkar, by which it
is meant reading only his damning (and entirely justified) criticism of Hinduism, has led
to a prevalent view that only Hinduism is laden with cultural and religious ills. One can see this even today, when the Left
and its ideologues point selectively to the social and religious evils pertaining to Hinduism. As a result, someone who isn’t well-versed
with India may get the impression that it is only Hinduism and Hindus who are to blame
for every ill and intolerance that plagues us. The reality, of course, is that social and
religious intolerance runs in our veins, it always has and it always will, for none other
than the holy scriptures of all religions have mainstreamed it. It is Ambedkar himself who, presciently and
fiercely, points to this hypocrisy. He writes: “The social evils which characterize
the Hindu Society, have been well known. The publication of ‘Mother India’ by Miss
Mayo gave these evils the widest publicity. But while ‘Mother India’ served the purpose
of exposing the evils and calling their authors at the bar of the world to answer for their
sins, it created the unfortunate impression throughout the world that while the Hindus
were grovelling in the mud of these social evils and were conservative, the Muslims in
India were free from them, and as compared to the Hindus, were a progressive people. That, such an impression should prevail, is
surprising to those who know the Muslim Society in India at close quarters.” Ambedkar then proceeds to talk in scathing
terms of child-marriage, intolerance, fanatical adherence to faith, the position of women,
polygamy, and other such practices prevalent among believers of Islam. On the subject of caste, Ambedkar goes into
great detail, and no punches are pulled. “Take the caste system. Islam speaks of brotherhood. Everybody infers that Islam must be free from
slavery and caste. Regarding slavery nothing needs to be said. It stands abolished now by law. But while it existed much of its support was
derived from Islam and Islamic countries. But if slavery has gone, caste among Musalmans
has remained. There can thus be no manner of doubt that
the Muslim Society in India is afflicted by the same social evils as afflict the Hindu
Society. Indeed, the Muslims have all the social evils
of the Hindus and something more. That something more is the compulsory system
of purdah for Muslim women. “Those who rightly commend Ambedkar for leaving
the fold of Hinduism, never ask why he converted to Buddhism and not Islam. It is because he viewed Islam as no better
than Hinduism. And keeping the political and cultural aspects
in mind, he had this to say: “Conversion to Islam or Christianity will denationalise the
Depressed Classes. If they go to Islam the number of Muslims
will be doubled and the danger of Muslim domination also becomes real.” On Muslim politics, Ambedkar is caustic, even
scornful. “There is thus a stagnation not only in the
social life but also in the political life of the Muslim community of India. The Muslims have no interest in politics as
such. Their predominant interest is religion. This can be easily seen by the terms and conditions
that a Muslim constituency makes for its support to a candidate fighting for a seat. The Muslim constituency does not care to examine
the programme of the candidate. All that the constituency wants from the candidate
is that he should agree to replace the old lamps of the masjid by supplying new ones
at his cost, to provide a new carpet for the masjid because the old one is torn, or to
repair the masjid because it has become dilapidated. In some places a Muslim constituency is quite
satisfied if the candidate agrees to give a sumptuous feast and in other if he agrees
to buy votes for so much a piece. With the Muslims, election is a mere matter
of money and is very seldom a matter of social programme of general improvement. Muslim politics takes no note of purely secular
categories of life, namely, the differences between rich and poor, capital and labour, landlord and tenant, priest and layman, reason and superstition. Muslim politics is essentially clerical and
recognizes only one difference, namely, that existing between Hindus and Muslims. None of the secular categories of life have
any place in the politics of the Muslim community and if they do find a place—and they must
because they are irrepressible—they are subordinated to one and the only governing principle of the Muslim political universe, namely, religion.” The psychoanalysis of the Indian Muslim by
Ambedkar is unquestionably deeply hurtful to those on the Left who have appropriated
him. How they wish he had never written such things. They try their best to dismiss his writings on Islam and Muslims by taking refuge in the time-tested excuse of “context”. That’s right. Whenever text troubles you, rake up its context. Bring in the grey. Except that in the case of Ambedkar, this
excuse falls flat. Ambedkar’s views on Islam – in a book with
fourteen chapters that deal almost entirely with Muslims, the Muslim psyche, and the Muslim
Condition – are stand-alone statements robustly supported with quotes and teachings of scholars,
Muslim leaders, and academics. To him these are maxims. He isn’t writing fiction. The context is superfluous; in fact, it is
non-existent. Read the following statements: The brotherhood
of Islam is not the universal brotherhood of man. It is brotherhood of Muslims for Muslims only. There is a fraternity, but its benefit is
confined to those within that corporation. For those who are outside the corporation,
there is nothing but contempt and enmity. The second defect of Islam is that it is a
system of social self-government and is incompatible with local self-government, because the allegiance
of a Muslim does not rest on his domicile in the country which is his but on the faith
to which he belongs. Wherever there is the rule of Islam, there
is his own country. In other words, Islam can never allow a true
Muslim to adopt India as his motherland and regard a Hindu as his kith and kin.” If you are hunting for a context to the above
statements, you have just outed yourself as a hopeless apologist. Well, you are not alone. Some of India’s most celebrated hagiographers,
commentators, writers, and columnists, that include Ramachandra Guha and Arundhati Roy
– both of whom have written copiously on Ambedkar, through stand-alone chapters or
books (The Doctor and the Saint; India after Gandhi; Democrats and Dissenters; Makers of
Modern India) – are conspicuously silent on Ambedkar’s views on Islam and the Muslim
psyche. Clearly, this is a story the apologists do
not want to tell. The one thing Ambedkar was not, was an apologist. On the allegiance of a Muslim to his motherland
[India], Ambedkar writes: “Among the tenets one that calls for notice is the tenet of
Islam which says that in a country which is not under Muslim rule, wherever there is a
conflict between Muslim law and the law of the land, the former must prevail over the
latter, and a Muslim will be justified in obeying the Muslim law and defying the law
of the land.” Quoting the following: “The only allegiance
a Musalman, whether civilian or soldier, whether living under a Muslim or under a non-Muslim
administration, is commanded by the Koran to acknowledge is his allegiance to God, to
his Prophet and to those in authority from among the Musalmans…” Ambedkar adds: “This must make anyone wishing
for a stable government very apprehensive. But this is nothing to the Muslim tenets which
prescribe when a country is a motherland to the Muslim and when it is not…According
to Muslim Canon Law the world is divided into two camps, Dar-ul-lslam (abode of Islam),
and Dar-ul-Harb (abode of war). A country is Dar-ul-lslam when it is ruled
by Muslims. A country is Dar-ul-Harb when Muslims only
reside in it but are not rulers of it. That being the Canon Law of the Muslims, India
cannot be the common motherland of the Hindus and the Musalmans. It can be the land of the Musalmans—but
it cannot be the land of the ‘Hindus and the Musalmans living as equals.’ Further, it can be the land of the Musalmans
only when it is governed by the Muslims. The moment the land becomes subject to the
authority of a non-Muslim power, it ceases to be the land of the Muslims. Instead of being Dar-ul-lslam it becomes Dar-ul-Harb. “It must not be supposed that this view is
only of academic interest. For it is capable of becoming an active force
capable of influencing the conduct of the Muslims…It might also be mentioned that
Hijrat [emigration] is not the only way of escape to Muslims who find themselves in a
Dar-ul-Harb. There is another injunction of Muslim Canon
Law called Jihad (crusade) by which it becomes “incumbent on a Muslim ruler to extend the
rule of Islam until the whole world shall have been brought under its sway. The world, being divided into two camps, Dar-ul-lslam
(abode of Islam), Dar-ul-Harb (abode of war), all countries come under one category or the
other. Technically, it is the duty of the Muslim
ruler, who is capable of doing so, to transform Dar-ul-Harb into Dar-ul-lslam.” And just as there are instances of the Muslims
in India resorting to Hijrat, there are instances showing that they have not hesitated to proclaim
Jihad.” On a Muslim respecting authority of an elected
government, Ambedkar writes: “Willingness to render obedience to the authority of the
government is as essential for the stability of government as the unity of political parties
on the fundamentals of the state. It is impossible for any sane person to question the importance of obedience in the maintenance of the state. To believe in civil disobedience is to believe
in anarchy… How far will Muslims obey the authority of
a government manned and controlled by the Hindus? The answer to this question need not call
for much inquiry.” This view isn’t much different from the views
of Jinnah and the Muslim League. Indeed, in the then prevailing climate, engineered
or otherwise, these views could be seen as legitimate from the point of view of an anxious
minority. However, the reason that Ambedkar gives for
this predilection is not at all political but, rather startlingly, religious. He writes: “To the Muslims a Hindu is a Kaffir. A Kaffir is not worthy of respect. He is low-born and without status. That is why a country which is ruled by a
Kaffir is Dar-ul-Harb to a Musalman. Given this, no further evidence seems to be
necessary to prove that the Muslims will not obey a Hindu government. The basic feelings of deference and sympathy,
which predispose persons to obey the authority of government, do not simply exist. But if proof is wanted, there is no dearth
of it. It is so abundant that the problem is what
to tender and what to omit… In the midst of the Khilafat agitation, when
the Hindus were doing so much to help the Musalmans, the Muslims did not forget that
as compared with them the Hindus were a low and an inferior race.” Ambedkar isn’t done yet. On the lack of reforms in the Muslim community,
he writes: “What can that special reason be? It seems to me that the reason for the absence
of the spirit of change in the Indian Musalman is to be sought in the peculiar position he
occupies in India. He is placed in a social environment which
is predominantly Hindu. That Hindu environment is always silently
but surely encroaching upon him. He feels that it is demusalmanazing him. As a protection against this gradual weaning
away he is led to insist on preserving everything that is Islamic without caring to examine
whether it is helpful or harmful to his society. Secondly, the Muslims in India are placed
in a political environment which is also predominantly Hindu. He feels that he will be suppressed, and that political suppression will make the Muslims a depressed class. It is this consciousness that he has to save
himself from being submerged by the Hindus socially and-politically, which to my mind
is the primary cause why the Indian Muslims as compared with their fellows outside are
backward in the matter of social reform. “Their energies are directed to maintaining
a constant struggle against the Hindus for seats and posts in which there is no time, no thought and no room for questions relating to social reform. And if there is any, it is all overweighed
and suppressed by the desire, generated by pressure of communal tension, to close the
ranks and offer a united front to the menace of the Hindus and Hinduism by maintaining
their socio-religious unity at any cost. The same is the explanation of the political
stagnation in the Muslim community of India. “Muslim politicians do not recognize secular
categories of life as the basis of their politics because to them it means the weakening of
the community in its fight against the Hindus. The poor Muslims will not join the poor Hindus
to get justice from the rich. Muslim tenants will not join Hindu tenants
to prevent the tyranny of the landlord. Muslim labourers will not join Hindu labourers
in the fight of labour against capital. Why? The answer is simple. The poor Muslim sees that if he joins in the
fight of the poor against the rich, he may be fighting against a rich Muslim. The Muslim tenant feels that if he joins in
the campaign against the landlord, he may have to fight against a Muslim landlord. A Muslim labourer feels that if he joins in
the onslaught of labour against capital, he will be injuring a Muslim mill-owner. He is conscious that any injury to a rich
Muslim, to a Muslim landlord or to a Muslim mill-owner, is a disservice to the Muslim
community, for it is thereby weakened in its struggle against the Hindu community.” Then, Ambedkar writes something that would
surely confirm him as a certified Islamophobe and a bigot in the jaundiced eyes of those
who have appropriated him. “How Muslim politics has become perverted
is shown by the attitude of the Muslim leaders to the political reforms in the Indian States. The Muslims and their leaders carried on a
great agitation for the introduction of representative government in the Hindu State of Kashmir. The same Muslims and their leaders are deadly
opposed to the introduction of representative governments in other Muslim States. The reason for this strange attitude is quite
simple. In all matters, the determining question with
the Muslims is how it will affect the Muslims vis-a-vis the Hindus. If representative government can help the
Muslims, they will demand it, and fight for it. In the State of Kashmir, the ruler is a Hindu,
but the majority of the subjects are Muslims. The Muslims fought for representative government
in Kashmir, because representative government in Kashmir meant the transfer of power from
a Hindu king to the Muslim masses. In other Muslim States, the ruler is a Muslim,
but the majority of his subjects are Hindus. In such States representative government means
the transfer of power from a Muslim ruler to the Hindu masses, and that is why the Muslims
support the introduction of representative government in one case and oppose it in the
other. The dominating consideration with the Muslims
is not democracy. The dominating consideration is how democracy
with majority rule will affect the Muslims in their struggle against the Hindus. Will it strengthen them, or will it weaken
them? If democracy weakens them, they will not have
democracy. They will prefer the rotten state to continue
in the Muslim States rather than weaken the Muslim ruler in his hold upon his Hindu subjects. The political and social stagnation in the Muslim community can be explained by one and only one reason. The Muslims think that the Hindus and Muslims
must perpetually struggle; the Hindus to establish their dominance over the Muslims and the Muslims
to establish their historical position as the ruling community—that in this struggle
the strong will win, and to ensure strength they must suppress or put in cold storage
everything which causes dissension in their ranks. If the Muslims in other countries have undertaken
the task of reforming their society and the Muslims of India have refused to do so, it
is because the former are free from communal and political clashes with rival communities,
while the latter are not.” History for us is either to be hidden or invented. We tell and retell what we like of it, and
of what we don’t, we scrunch it up and slip it under the mattress, and then perch ourselves
cross-legged over it to retell a little more. We are born storytellers. A lap and a head is all we need. As for truth? Well, it is not there; it vanished from view;
and so it never happened. But it did happen. Ambedkar did say these things on Islam and
Indian Muslims. In doing so, he gave a choice to us, for he
knew us only too well. We could either discuss his views on Islam
openly like we do his views on Hinduism, or we could scrunch them up like a plastic bag
and slip it under our mattress. He did not live long enough to witness the
option that we chose but being the seer that he was he had an inkling.

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43 thoughts on “BR Ambedkar on Islam and Islamic Society-An Excerpt from his Book Pakistan or Partition of India”

  • Read here what the prophet Muhammad ( peace and blessings of God be upon him) said on Unity of Mankind.
    O Mankind , your God is one and you have but one father. You are all progeny of Adam and Adam was made of clay. Lo ! the noblest among you in the sight of God is the best one in conduct. No Arab has any preference over a non Arab nor a non Arab over an Arab save by virtue of his piety. God is kind to those who are kind to others. If you show kindness to those who live on Earth God will shower His blessings on you. ( Reference book Abu Dawood)
    Dr Ambedkar ji may have missed it. There are many narrations and exhortations from him on this topic.

  • Remember Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world and no misinformation campaign against it could stop it.

  • Mr. Pandey
    Please study Vedas. You will read about the Advent of prophet Muhammad with minute details about him and his companions and where he will appear and what he will preach and that he is the last of the messanger of God and that Vedic people should follow him. He is Antim Rushi. Vedas have same concept of God as one, formless,non material,unseeable and all knowing,all seeing, Omni potent and surrounds entire creation without being in it,He being non material power,requires no space for His bodily mass as He has no mass,no body. Your Aacharya Sanjay Prasad Dwivedi Pandit of all your 18 major books of Hindu scriptures studies Quran and hadis and got convinced and now lives as muslim having graduated in Islamic studies as well. He is so of daughter of ex UP CM Narayan Dutt Tiwari.

  • Mr. Speaker
    What you don't know however is Islam is the latest Vedic religion in as much as uncorrupted portions of Vedas. And that all of you should accept it voluntarily. In our Secular country we have to have common Secular laws and family laws have to of one's own religion.

  • Before judging Muslims ,judge your upper castes ,first you should give equality and dignity to your lower castes,accept them as your brother's then say whatever you have to say about muslims.and yes you are a blind hater and Islamophobic.

  • All hindus brothers should read this book 📚.. Babasaheb fight against caste system only not hindu religion

  • I think the fundamental flaw in Hindu thinking of today is the us vs. them mentality. A commentor below is complaining about how "they" took Pakistan and expelled Hindus from "their own lands". He speaks of Bangladesh and Kashmir. The assumption here is that Muslims are some outsiders. Truth of the matter is that after the infiltration of the white man, the Hindus adopted the seeds of their ideology which was used to separate us as a people. We chose to be Muslims and these lands are our lands but the Hindus don't see us as their own people. That is the problem. But of course you can sit here and play the victim card all you want.

  • what a load of propaganda, demonising millions of people, i can quote a million verses brutal terrorising verses from hindu scriptures

  • In his book Pakistan or the Partition of India (1940) Dr. Ambedkar warns: “If Hindu Raj becomes a reality then it would be greatest menace to this country. Whatever may Hindus say, actually it does not make a difference that Hinduism is a danger to Independence, Equality and Brotherhood. Thus it is an enemy of democracy. We should make all out efforts to stop Hindu Raj from becoming a reality.” For Dr. Ambedkar, a Hindu nation meant a nation where the twice-born castes would prevail upon Dalits, OBCs and women. For him, it did not mean just domination over Muslims, as the progressives, Leftists and liberals of India believe.

  • It was Dr Ambedkar who, in the course of three thousand years of Indian history, posed a decisive challenge to Brahminism that derives its strength from Hindutva. Not only did he challenge Hindutva, he also presented social, political, economic and religious alternatives. He dismissed Hindutva and clearly stated said it had nothing to offer to humanity. In Annihilation of Caste, he answered Gandhi’s questions on why he hated Hindus and the Hindu religion. He writes ‘I hate Hindus and the Hindu religion because I am convinced that it propagates the wrong ideals and has a social life of the wrong kind. I do not oppose the Hindus and the Hindu religion only because of its failings in social customs. My quarrel is with its ideals.’
    Dr. Ambedkar clearly states that he despised the Hindu religion because of its belief in caste. Its existence lies in caste, a poison that it has spread amongst Sikhs, Muslims and Christians.  In Annihilation of Caste, he writes “The entire social conduct of the Hindus is like the narrow and corrupt practices of uncivilized tribes where the concept of right and wrong or good and evil is limited to its own community. Instead of favouring the right and condemning the wrong, their uppermost concern is to oppose their caste or not.”
    Dr Ambedkar did not see anything positive in the Hindu religion because there was no place for humanity in it. In ‘Annihilation of Caste’, he also writes, “The Hindu religion is nothing but a horde of ideals and constraints. It is mere collection of the Vedas, smritis, yagnas, social etiquette, political conduct and subjects such as rules of purificaton etc. The religion is found in the compilation of its ideals and constraints. The real religion which spells out the spiritual ideals and that which is useful to all human and world communities is not found among the Hindus and even if there were a few such ideals, they do not play an important role in the lives of the Hindus. The religion of the Hindus is only a religion of ideals and constraints.”

  • If Ambedkar did say all those, what it shows is that he failed to grasp that the majority of those who converted, converted to escape the cruelty if the caste system. If they fear to join Hindus of the same social status and worry about the effects on the Muslim, am observant mind would understand that the history of oppression made these Induam Muslims to stay together for protection rather than due to religious believe.

    Besides, given that Indian Muslims are proud, what good is to useful

  • Please make ur series translation in Hindi so that Hindi speaking people in India also understand ur content

  • Kya akele Ambedkar ji ne sangvidhan banaya…jis jagah WO khade the …unko Jo pesa milta tha WO kaha se aata tha or kislie aata tha.WO apni post par kam kar rahe the.

  • No democracy in Islam , no rights for women ,no equality, intolerant , Islam should be removed, Islam is dengarous to civilised world Jai bhim Jai Hind

  • It's quite true to a point a lot of foreign friends do think Hinduism is evil. They think we still burn the widows quiety after her husband dies.

  • Ambedkar is a caste leader who fought for the rights of his caste. He should not be considered a national leader but a caste leader. His pictures should be removed from government offices as he fought only for the freedom of his community and not for others. My great grandfather King Puli Thevar is the first freedom fighter of India who fought against the British colonial powers in 1657 and he won many wars against the foreigners too. Who should be the national leader? A man who initiated the freedom fight in India or the one who fought only for his community men? Mother fuckers give negative comments to my comment.

  • God said the duty of a Shudra is to serve the upper varnas faithfully with devotion and without grumbling. (Manu 1-91) Manu is not satisfied with this. He wants this servile status of the Shudras to be expressed in the names and surnames of persons belonging to that community. Manu says: a Shudra’s name should express something contemptible. (Manu II.31).

  • Rajesh shakya
    In India as per government records muslim population rise is on par with the others. Also government records show polygamy is practised more by Hindus than muslims. Just don't turn blind eye to white Christians accepting Islam. In fact hindutva is self annihilating with government requiring to put in place laws to prevent conversations. Surprisingly not even one of its 33 crores of gods took birth outside India. Just look into your own religion before attacking others'

  • Brahmano ka plan fail hoga. Muslim Ambedkar ji ko aur dalito ko sath dete the aur dete rahenge. Tumhari bakwas tumhare bheje me zahar gholegi. Hamare nahi. Jai Hind Jai Bheem aur Jai Meem

  • Dr. Baba saheb Ambedkar ji also wrote books name The Riddles in Hinduism and the Annihilation of casts. How about making a video on YouTube expounding these books so that Hindus are enlightened with the knowledge of their religion. These books are Master pieces of his intelligence and in depth analytical presentation of hard facts Brahmans always seek to hide from Hindus.

  • Hindutva fanatics do like the Constitution of India. They want to replace it with Manu Smriti a book designed to ensure supremacy of Brahmans and enslavement of all others especially dalits.

  • Who was second wife of Ambedkar who forced him for sceond marriage who killed him please speak of this debacles as well

  • Kafir is not only for hindus it is also for Buddhists , Christians , sikhs , jains, jewish , and another non Muslims

  • Thanks for this lecture. Bharat must weed out muslims harmful this country and them choose going to places like Pak, Somalia and similar places. Time has to throw these traitors. Please keep these enlightening lectures.

  • Funny how so many Indians are beating their chest about Ambedkar 's criticism of Islam, forgetting that he denounced Hinduism too for its oppressive caste system. Ambedkar wasn't for or against any religion, he was for principles and justice. Hence he spoke out against the institutions which promulgated injustice. Worse yet, the rise of rightwing populism in India, takes on many of the oppressive characteristics of theocratic beliefs. The Hindutva movement, although much more passive than its islamic counterpart, is still quite corrosive to the principles of justice, rule of law and democracy. True Amberkarian principles are rooted in liberalism.