Islamic Secularism?

By H. Muhammad.

In this era where religion and politics are complexly intertwined, political parties produce discourses to legitimise their strategies and goals. Religion is exploited as a pawn that underpins political logic and camouflage political objectives. For example the brand name ‘Islamic State’ is coined into various versions respectively to the political party in order to garner support for their political objectives. And the label ‘secular’ (tabooed by scholars), exhilarate this political game of branding names. But what is it about secularism that the majority of Muslim scholars are frown upon the idea?

Muslims over the time has soundly developed the constituents of the Syaria law. The law in turn has formed the structure of the ‘institutionalized’ religion of Islam. Historically, these intellectual trends in scriptural hermeneutics (interpretations) of Islam were opinionated by Muslim jurists and scholars of the medieval period. These ideas have been repeated until today and over the time have become so sacred that they have been accepted as divine in origin. The concept of ‘exclusivism’ had been dogmatised into the religion and any creative interpretation (unaligned with the set discipline) in view of change or reform would be marginalized and resisted by the authorized jurists (ulama).

It is explicable that conservative religionists would decry the propensity towards secularism in the modern world. Reason being, conservative religionists naturally associate secularism with atheism. These rigid interpretations of both Islam and secularism are conceived as standing in opposition towards each other with antagonistic contradiction. But one would agree to the fact that the Quran stress the importance of knowledge and also promotes action and reasoning. Thus an intellectual synthesis between reason and faith is absolutely necessary. Rationally, faith has to be in present values and should not mean blind imitation of past traditions. Blind faith could lead to blind submission to religious ideology that lead to extreme exploitative practices. Thus, it is very important that one employ ones rational faculty to safeguard against such possibility.

It is important to note that the way Islam was interpreted and understood by past (medieval period) Muslim scholars conformed to their own socio-cultural situation at that time. But human socio-culture is never static. Its state of affairs constantly evolves and changes through time. If the intellectual trend in interpretation of the religion is confined to conservative traditions of Muslim scholars of the past, it may create rigid hurdles to go along with the ever changing, demanding and complex human socio-culture of today and of the future. Thus rationally, the conventional interpretation of the religion should not be binding on subsequent generations, as it may not conform to the changed socio-cultural situations.

Secularism generally argues for reasons, rational, knowledge and action that is independent of religious belief. There is a need to adapt for a more liberal interpretation of secularism. In essence secularism argues for pure science. It shouldn’t be interpreted too rigidly as to equate it with atheism as many conservative religionists do. Secularism should be taken in a political sense rather than philosophical sense, in which it will then create social and political space for all religious communities.

The human socio-culture of today demand more liberal disposition, tolerance and promotion of pluralism. This in fact is in line with the message of the Quran, with the provision that the interpretation and understanding of the Quran is approached in a holistic (meaningful and realistic) manner. In which one can find that Islam upholds pluralism, freedom of conscience and embrace diversity in its truest form. It does not clash with the concept of secularism in a political sense and would assemble well in this complex human socio-culture of the modern world. In other words Islam itself is liberal in the form of non-atheistic secularism.

It can be argued that the concept of secularism originally developed within a historical context of Islam. Islam in its early stage sparked the idea of religious tolerance, understanding and appreciation of pluralism and diversity in human socio-culture 1400 years ago. This idea has ignited positive social order, ethical culture, intellectual discipline and spiritual concept in their community. It brought forth torch of wisdom and rays of light and has transformed a once backward community to one of the world super power. Undeniably, they’d progressed into an empire with advance knowledge of science at their time. They had produced great names in mathematics, medicines, astronomy, chemistry, physics and anatomy etc. whose breakthrough ideas had contributed immensely to the advancement of human civilization and whose names were still admired until this day. Noteworthy, these very same ideas had paved the direction that had brought Europe out of the dark ages.

It would be a just call for conservative religionists to break ranks and promote diverse ideas and multi-disciplinary intellectual trend in the interpretation of the religion. And also de-monopolize knowledge in the sense of advocating the free flow of diverse ideas in understanding Islam. Decreeing others who interpret the religion in an unconventional conservative manner ‘deviationist’ would reflect intolerance towards others of different viewpoint hence tarnish the image and beauty of Islam itself.

It is important to note that it is all right for one to choose conservative understanding of Islam for oneself. One should be free to be conservative Muslim, non-conservative Muslim, liberal Muslim or non-Muslim as long as they don’t impose their views to others of different viewpoint.

Let the nation be for all and religion for God.


Anonymous said...

I love your website. It has a lot of great pictures and is very informative.

Anonymous said...

Dear writer, I think they must have read your writings. Btw, do find your writing brilliant. I found this in the star sometime ago. Best wishes and god bless you.

Mufti: Beware of pluralism and liberalism

IPOH: Elements of liberalism and pluralism have crept into the thinking of some so-called Muslim intellectuals, and this could affect the Muslim lifestyle, said Perak Mufti Datuk Harussani Zakaria.

He said discussions on polygamy, the faraidh system, revision of the Quran, setting up of an Inter-Faith Commission and abolishment of Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution, were getting louder as more Malaysians were embracing liberalism and pluralism.

“If left unchecked, liberalism and pluralism will be difficult to control,” he said in his keynote speech Purifying Islam from Liberalism and Pluralism at the Ulama Convention 2006 here yesterday.

Raja Muda of Perak Raja Nazrin Shah opened the gathering, which was held in conjunction with the 78th birthday of Sultan Azlan Shah.

Harussani said Muslims, whether policymakers or ordinary people, should know that liberalism and pluralism were alien to the fundamentals of Islam.

“The intellectuals and leaders must be aware of the threats to Islam posed by these elements,” he added.

He proposed that Islamic countries set up a body to monitor the influence of Western thinking and culture.

In his speech, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali urged Muslims to accord high respect to religious institutions and the ulama of the country.
“Without the respect, we fear certain quarters will take advantage to deride Islam as the nation's official religion.”

Experts on the issues, who included Assoc Prof Dr Anis Malik Toha of the Islamic International University and Adnin Armas of the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought and Civilisation, are due to present working papers at the two-day convention.

Anonymous said...

Dear H. M,

Brilliant perspective. I like your strong argument and strong reasoning on the issues. I must say that to certain quarters you are one dangerous mind.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Muhammad,

You have one beautiful mind. Solid arguments and reasoning. But you are looking from a different world view that in contrast to the Islamic world view. Nevertheless I respect your perspective on the matter. There's no need to put down my view, I'm sure you are well informed on the conservative Islamic perspective on the matter. Assalamualaikum.

Ivan G.

Anonymous said...

There was another one on this.

The Star.
Wednesday June 14, 2006

Ulamas want kongsi raya celebrations reviewed

IPOH: Ulamas attending a conference here want several practices such as the “kongsi raya” celebrations and open houses reviewed to ensure that they do not contradict Islamic laws.
Ulama Conference 2006 working committee chairman Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria said this was necessary because the National Fatwa Committee had decided that celebrating the festivals of other religions could erode the faith of Muslims and could lead to blasphemy.

“This matter (the Fatwa Committee’s decision), however, is still in the written form and has yet to be forwarded to the Government for action,” he said at the close of the conference yesterday.

The conference also came up with 22 other resolutions, which would be presented to the Sultan of Perak, state government, Federal Government and the Council of Rulers.

Harussani, who is also the Perak Mufti, said the resolutions passed included asking all state Fatwa Councils to set up their respective action committee specifically to respond to views put forward by practitioners of liberalism and pluralism, which attack the faith of Muslims.

The Government was also urged to set up a monitoring body made up of academicians and ulamas to stop the spread of liberal Islamic thinking, especially through the Internet.

“I’m also made to understand that followers of liberal Islamic thinking are waiting for this resolution so that they can draw up a new strategy to counter it,” said Harussani.

The conference also proposed that a dialogue be held involving various groups, including followers of liberal Islamic thinking and other religions, to correct misconceptions about Islam and to understand the views of the other faiths. –

Anonymous said...

Re paste.Found this on the net. They read.

Dewan Pemuda PAS Negeri Pulau Pinang
Markaz Tarbiyyah PAS Pulau Pinang
Pongsu Seribu, Kepala Batas, Pulau Pinang

Laporan Media/Akhbar

Dewan Pemuda PAS Negeri Pulau Pinang pada 14 Oktober 2006, telah mengadakan satu majlis pengisyhtiharan perang terhadap Islam liberalisme dan pluralisme agama bagi menentang serangan isme ini yang sedang rancak melanda Negara kita. Pengisytiharan yang disempurnakan oleh Sdr Azizi Ayob, Ketua Dewan Pemuda PAS Pulau Pinang turut disertakan dengan dua slot ceramah yang masing-masing diisikan oleh Dr Fadhlullah Jamel , Timbalan YDP Persatuan Ulama Malaysia cawangan Pulau Pinang dan Ust Hafiz Nordin, Timbalan Ketua Dewan Pemuda PAS Negeri Pulau Pinang.

Dr Fadhlullah dalam ceramah beliau , menyentuh kronologi sejarah bagaimana serangan pemikiran liberalisme dan pluralisme ini boleh menjadi anutan sebilangan besar umat Islam hari ini dengan mengaitkannya secara jelas dengan perancangan golongan orientalis. Modus operandi untuk melenyapkan Islam secara serangan pemikiran yang disusun sejak zaman Renaissance lagi sehingga sekarang nampak berjaya apabila ramai umat Islam terutama golongan remaja rosak akhlak dan mengamalkan hidup berbudaya barat bahkan mereka juga cenderung untuk murtad. Golongan ini juga mengkaji dan menguasai ilmu – ilmu Islam seperti usuludin, tafsir, fiqh, tasauf dan lain-lain bahkan melahirkan tokoh-tokoh ilmuan di kalangan mereka yang akhirnya mengajar umat Islam dengan ilmu yang diselewengkan mereka.

Dr. Fadhlullah juga menyeru supaya para ibubapa betul-betul berperanan bagi memastikan anak-anak mereka dididik dengan baik dan memantapkan mereka dengan ilmu-ilmu Islam sebenar sehingga dapat menguasai ilmu tersebut sebagai persediaan untuk menghadapi isme yang melanda umat Islam ini. Demikian juga , beliau mengharapkan seluruh umat Islam agar rajin berusaha meningkatkan diri dari sudut penguasaan ilmu-ilmu di samping berwaspada dengan serangan pemikiran yang sedang melanda terutama melalui media dan sistem pendidikan.

Dalam majlis tersebut juga, Ust Hafiz dalam ceramah ringkas , beliau membangkitkan semangat para hadirin dengan mengisahkan semula sejarah peperangan Badar Al-Kubra yang disifatkan beliau sebagai pertempuran antara Kufur dan Iman. Akidah yang jitu, padu , dan ikhlas terhadap Allah s.w.t merupakan intisari yang ada pada setiap pejuang Islam pada waktu itu dan unsur itu semakin pudar pada hari ini yang menjadi penyebab umat Islam semakin lemah dan mudah digayang oleh pihak musuh.

Pemuda PAS dan ahli PAS keseluruhannya dinasihatkan supaya tidak hanya memikirkan kemenangan semata-mata bahkan yang lebih penting ialah berkerja dan berusaha ke arah itu pada setiap saat dengan bersungguh-sungguh kerana kemenangan itu adalah hak Allah. Allah dengan kuasa yang ada padaNya semestinya akan menganugerahkan kemenangan kepada hambaNya sepertimana janji Allah dan bukti-bukti sejarah Islam lampau.

Ust Hafiz dengan kelantangan beliau memberi amaran bahawa pemuda Islam sanggup mati dalam memerangi golongan yang mendakyahkan isme Islam liberal dan plural agama ini semata-mata demi mempertahankan akidah dan kesucian Islam. Beliau juga menyeru seluruh pemuda dan ahli PAS serta seluruh umat Islam supaya bangkit dari kelekaan dunia dan sedar bahawa Islam sedang diancam, pemuda-pemudi sedang dirosakkan, anak-anak sedang didoktrinkan dengan satu perancangan yang tersusun oleh golongan yang ingin melenyapkan Islam.

Beliau juga ada mengaitkan media sebagai alat utama dalam menyebarluaskan agenda Islam liberalisme dan pluralisme agama ini dengan mengambil contoh sebuah filem bertajuk Gubra yang secara terang-terangan mendakyah isme tersebut di samping menghina Islam dan kaum Melayu di Negara ini. Beliau juga mendakwa bahawa Islam Hadhari yang diperkenalkan Pak Lah menjadi punca utama golongan liberal dan plural agama ini rancak menjalankan aktiviti dakyah mereka dengan bebas. Islam Hadhari juga disifatkan sebagai memayungi isme-isme berbahaya ini apabila dilihat tidak ada sebarang tindakan undang-undang dikenakan terhadap golongan ini.

Kamarulzaman Abdullah
Ahli Jawatankuasa
Dewan Pemuda PAS Pulau Pinang