The Rebel Road…

I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, coward, you’re only going to kill a man. – Ernesto Che Guevara

Islam and Secularism: The fundamental divide.

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In contemporary times Islam and Secularism have always been treated as the opposite ends of the spectrum. While sovereignty is an attribute of Allah in Islam and must be given to him, in the case of secularism it is society which is held sovereign. This however, is an incomplete picture. Before a critique of either modes of political setup is made, it is essential that a basic understanding of the framework and premises surrounding both be laid out. For this purpose I shall begin by an outline of what Islam’s political ideology is, and go on from there to what secularism is and what it entails.

Islam is claimed to be the herald of the new Era in the history of mankind. The age of enlightenment when the path to the creator is made manifest. Islam further comments that it is the true and complete religion for mankind, one which corroborates and rectifies the ills of all previous religions. In doing so, Islam not only rises above all religions but is also made distinct from them as pure. Further commenting on the concept of sovereignty of Allah, Islam puts forth that he is the creator of all and by virtue of that act of creation holds power over the ownership of all as well. It is therefore imperative, that any political setup in any state which deems to call itself Islamic, must by definition of criteria give sovereign powers to Allah and not to any other political or societal body. [1]

The classical format of political format of any Islamic republic has been one of Khilafat (Caliphate). This means that the political head of State is one man. This is made distinct from the concept of the King since the King is not answerable to anyone about his decisions whereas the Caliph has to keep the moral and ethical ramifications of his decisions in mind, since he is only a worldly regent of the True Sovereign i.e. Allah and therefore answerable to his superior.[2]

Secularism on the other hand gives sovereign control of society to that very society. It proposes that all decisions are based on rationality and experience. That is to say that if an apple falls from a tree, it is not because of some divine or fate-driven necessity, but by the material conditions present in that scenario, that is the weight of the apple overcoming the force by which the stalk held it to the tree, and the gravity acting upon it. Therefore one can easily understand that secularism does not and will not take into account the religious tenants, overlooking them for what is considered the good of society.

The ramification of such a view is the insistence on the primacy of man over scripture. Society is composed of people and the world as it exists today came into existence as a consequence of man’s fight for dominance over his brethren and his environment. This view negates the essentiality of sovereignty of Allah as Islam dictates and therefore, puts it at odds with Islam.

Islam as a religion, revealed unto mankind in the 6th century came at a time and place where there were little resources and man was at a particular stage in history. This particular stage is referred to as the Slave-owning stage.[3] It is therefore essential that in any analysis of the true nature of Islam, one put aside one’s biases and look at the fundamental teachings of Islam. There can be no doubt that if distilled long enough, Islam will come to be understood as being the advocate of the fundamental betterment of mankind. Therefore, all steps taken within the initial Islamic society were geared towards the betterment of that particular society at first.

The Islamic empire which at the time when it was made consisted of not too large or separated a territory and could be governed adequately by a Caliph, was the result of the material conditions prevalent at the time of its creation and the events that led up to it. It is also necessary that one understands, that Islam itself, neither in scripture nor teaching proposes the Caliphate as the perfect mode of governance. In all truth, Islam gives no political mode of governance at all. It is the understanding of the people of the time who were basically tribal in nature, that a supreme Caliph would be the perfect ruler for such an Ummah.

As described by the Muslim Scholars and supporters of the neo-Caliphate movement which has begun with new fervor in recent times, The Caliphate sounds to me like an ill conceived notion of treating the symptoms but not the problem itself. Although Khilafitist scholars (if they can truely be called scholars to begin with) support Khilafat as the perfect solution to the problem of the Muslim people but even this self-assumed perfection does not necessarily translate into a workable solution. One is merely to look at the concept of the perfect perpetual engine to understand this.

Translated into modern times, the concept of the Caliphate becomes as obsolete as a sundial. The Muslim Ummah is not in as few numbers, as it was at the time of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.). Furthermore, the very nature of the Ummah has been twisted by colonial influences and the introduction of the concept of Nation States. The Ummah, a concept which is fundamental to the governance of a Caliph, is now spread over various, different Nation States. In order to install a Caliph at this juncture in history one would first have to break down those Nation States into one Muslim Unit, which is impossible by current means and methods. The Muslim Ummah, by virtue of conquest and acceptance of Islam is itself so diverse and ethnically segregated that no one man could possibly hope to do justice to the needs and wants of such an eclectic group of people.

Secularism, as profane as it is described to be by Muslim Scholars is the only manner of true and just governance available to mankind at large at this point in time. If Islam is a benefit to all mankind, and at least I have no reason to doubt it, and if all Muslims should work for the benefit of their fellowman which is also a tenant of Islam, then I see no reason why Muslims should not accept history as it has unfolded and work towards a better future, than cling onto a past which has no hope of being restored.


Written by redtribution

August 19, 2007 at 8:41 pm

Posted in Religion

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