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Secularism and faith by Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi

In West modernity is equated with their adoption of secularism as a political system. They believe that this separation of Church and State allowed the rationality to prevail and contributed towards advancements in science and technology. This question has been at the forefront of recent debates because of failure of secularism to contain greed of the capitalist and rising social discontent with the existing political order. We have to always keep in mind that men by its nature is a rebel when it comes to obeying divine instruction. Adam (AS) rebelled and that rebellion continues in one form or the other just like secularism wants to have independence from divine intervention in the area of politics and economy. In secular realm politics is about gaining power for the worldly desires of the community and satisfaction of individual egos of those in power. From Islamic perspective politics is about serving the community to please God the creator and seek a reward in hereafter.

Secularist claim that they are not against God. This contradicts the basic premise of secularism which suggest that in their political life people don’t have to be inspired by their faith in God. This anomaly is the Achilles heel of secularism and will ultimately become the reason for its failure. The discipline of political science is an effort to confirm that God, which appeals to the emotional self, has nothing to do with politics because it is a science which rejects everything that is irrational and cannot be measured. In this it supposes that the knowledge of human psychology and relations is now complete because if it was not then it cannot be certain that it’s recipes for managing society can work.

Secularist consider religion as a divider of society and foundation of intolerance. The reality is that intolerance is a human condition whose main source is the basic instinct to survive and rely on those with whom they have affinity. Blaming religion as a source of division and intolerance is secularist’s reason to promote the idea that God does not have a role to play in society and should be relegated to the private life of individuals. God is comfortable with his creatures pursuing different religion. God is leaving the question of faith in Him for the afterlife and does not withhold his blessings from those that do not believe in Him. Based on this evidence blaming religion for intolerance can be classified more as the narrowness of human mind rather than the incapacity of religion to deal with matters of diversity of faith. If secularism does not want to have divisions then there should be no political parties as well because they cause divisions based on their approach to issues. There are divisions based on ideology of right and left which has nothing got to do with religion. Secularist have to accept that conformity to one ideology is not in human condition and artificially trying to control it has not worked throughout history. Majorities need to be sensitive to minorities and differences in faith does not and should not eliminate our human affinity towards each other.

It is not religion that promote ideas of violence but dogma which cannot be allowed to dictate terms in a state. Dogma should be treated differently from religion and is usually the cause of division in a society. Philosophically revelation represents truth that is immovable or unchangeable. But it uses language as a medium that has subjective limitations because it is a human endeavor. Because of these limitations human interpretations of revelations cannot necessarily be considered the absolute truth and gives rise to dogma. These subjective understanding of divine message cannot be imposed on the whole society so a more viable model for secularism and religion to work together is to look at the higher level ideals. A state is not the preacher or promoter of a particular dogma pursued by a particular sect but rather up holder of higher moral values that are important for realization of human potential. These higher values are freedom of expression, religion, assembly and choice of a career. When we call a country by a specific religious connotation like Islamic Republic of Pakistan. That does not mean people of other religion cannot be part of it but that the majority pursue Islamic tradition.

Secularist view that God is indifferent to affairs of state is also not compatible with idea of God. God has designed men to be a social animal so to consider that He will remain unconcerned about his social behavior is misleading. Histories of prophets and the revelations sent to them that include guidance about affairs of society is a clear indication that men need guidance in their community organization. The advantage Islam has over other revealed religions is that the revelations are still available in the original format which can provide the world guidance in these matters. It is a mistaken and misguided notion that Quran promotes violence or has contradictions in it. Secularism suggest that it is not the concern of the State to worry about the spiritual while bodily needs like education, health and safety are its responsibility. But this approach does not take into account that there has never been a time in human history when idea of God or a religion was not present. This means that religion is an integral and inseparable component of human existence and has to be taken into consideration.

The idea of social capitalism is derived from religion because in a purely secular society where capitalism rules there should be no concern for the suffering of other human being. From this perspective it would be unjust to spend your hard earned money on another person without a reward for it. It is the religion that provides an answer to this dilemma by suggesting that there is reward in the afterlife. In the absence of this idea there would be chaos and conflict arising from disincentive to help others. Islam proposes that income equality is part of the social order and it is incumbent upon those with wealth to take care of their disadvantaged neighbors, relatives and city dwellers. Their failure to discharge this responsibility could subject them to accountability in the afterlife.

Even in the implementation of rule of law and justice religion come to the aid of the secularist. A human jurist cannot guarantee that he will be right 100% of the time so the chance of human error creates an anxiety. This anxiety is alleviated by religion guaranteeing that there could be recourse in case an error is committed by a jurist.

The bottom line is that God’s involvement in the affairs of men is a blessing as without it the society will descend into disarray and chaos. From this perspective Islam is the most modern religion and does not separate collective from the individual. As secularism lays down on the sick bed, Islam will provide answers to the social crisis faced by the world. Will Muslims lead this renaissance or not should be of real concern to us.

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