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February 28, 2006



Very interesting! I think that secularism is a necessary voice of reason in a multireligious society. That being said, speaking to Muslims who have a distorted sense of Islam on "their own level" makes sense as well.

I think my only concern would be to that we don't want to suggest that the violence these individuals cause is a result of religion by saying that the only way to fix them is with the correct religious view. I *hope* that these individuals fight for socioeconomc and political reasons (I hope), and religion is just a proxy.

For example, I think if the Palestinians were Buddhist or Aztec Priests, they would still resist Israel. Al-Qaeda is another story, they are much less clear about how they've been wronged, except in a abstract ways - further, their broad objectives of the US out of the Middle East is so broad in comparison from so-called terrorists in Chechnya and Palestine. Osama bin Laden generally talks about Beruit in the 1980s as when his conflict with America began - the same time he began doing business with them. He talks about defeating the Soviets (one superpower) as proof he can take down another - but everyone knows the Soviets collapsed for reasons far more complicated than Afghanistan and here too, Osama Bin Laden did business with his current enemy. So I guess I don't think religion is what motivates him, even if its a large part of his movement.


It would be wrong to suggest "religion" (itself a contested term) is not a motivational factor in the actions, say, of the London bombers; just as it would be wrong to reduce all their motivations to only "religion". Reality is just a little more complicated than that.

Osama bin Laden's dealings with the US show us that pragmatism and business is as important as the supposed uncomprising idealism that such individuals show. Others might call this something else; it's a charge routinley thrown at the US, for example, in its dealings with less than savoury regimes.

As for secularism: I think it is impossible to tie a philosophical secularism to almost any form of Islamic theology. The finitude and purposeless drift of life as must be described secularism (i.e. we make our own purpose) is at odds with the demands of Qur'anic judgement and accountability.

Nonetheless, it is contested by some that a latent form of political secularism exists in (Sunni) Islam, i.e. "religion" and "politics" are recognised as two distinct categories, even if the lines are blurred. (In reality the lines are even blurred in liberal-capitalist socieites, where the state restricts the scope of the church, that is there is no such 'separation' between church and state.) I'd go along with that reading for now.


she wants to rescue the word "fundamentalism" from the monkeys. i'm not sure whether this is possible.

i do agree with thabet that there is such a thing as political secularism w/in sunni islam. good luck catching me living in such a society but theoretically? sure.

beautiful new colors ustad.


Thabet - very informative analysis. I definitely agree that Islam has always been political, from the Prophet to this very day. Indeed, in a region torn by colonial boundaries that have little real ethnic or cultural meaning, religion is a common denominator.

In terms of shar'iah, I think many scholars could make a solid case that its an evolving idea rather than an uncreated concept (like the Qur'an), and as such not an immutable fact. Moreover, while many aspects of Islamic law are personal, there are aspects which are not merely habit or personal grooming but deal with inherentance, relationships, contract law, women, and slavery, which require a government to regulate and enforce. So, central to the idea of whether or not people believe that Islam and the state are necessarily intertwined, is whether or not you believe shar'iah should be implemented at a state-level (as it was in the beginning). If people believe it should be implemented at a state level, then this creates conditions for tension between different religious sects and interpretations within said community. Even in Iran, under its principle of divine sovereignty, there was considerable difference of opinion over exactly what a government run under Islam would mean and how fiqh should be implemented. Some scholars believed that the state and the religion should not be mixed, because it can create a conflict of interest.

I don't agree that secularism is a purposeless drift, indeed I think its a necessary component for religiously plural societies. The Balkans are a perfect case study of what happens when a religious majority imposes its will on a minority population.

Unfortunately, the west is not truly secular and often grapples with a religious majority which prints racist cartoons, etc. As it has been noted, the Danish newspaper that printed the cartoons mocking the Prophet refused to print cartoons mocking Jesus - hardly a secular position. Thus, if you ask me, Europe and the US could use a healthy dose of secularism in order to better treat its Islamic citizens.

Quddus Ali

I am a muslim whose recently created a new islamic blog. I came across your

blog and found it very interesting. I was therefore wondering whether you'd consider swapping links

to each other's blogs i.e. I put link to your blog on my blog, and you do the same?

My blog address is

Any assistance in this regard would be highly appreciated.

I hope you dont mind me using the comment mechanism like this, as I couldnt locate your email on the

blog. Please dont think of this as spam.

Jazakh Allah Khair



Jazak Allah for the article brother. Makes a lot of sense. Like your blog.


Steve:I think you make some vital points. I don't think there is anything sacroscent about institutions and previous forms of Muslim (not "Islamic") government. Muslims of today should be able to create institutions to help them in their current state of affairs. If you ask my view of things, I favour a highly decentralised form of government. I am against equating the state and its functions with Islam as an ultimate truth; I surrender my soul to God and not to a bureaucrat.

My point on secularisms were aimed at distinguishing between secularism as a 'truth', a 'philosophy' where the 'material' and this life is all there ultimately is; and secularism as a (political) 'method'. But we need to get away from the idea that secularism is the only political option; afterall there are many vile secularisms operating in Muslim countries right now.

Eteraz: Thanks, sahib. I think my choice of colours answers your question about my 'identity' in 'intellectual' terms ;-)

Quddus: Insha'allah. As soon as I re-do all my links. God bless.

FN Qadri: Thank you for your kind words. God bless.


assalamo allaikum,


mein ney app sey maslah pochna tha
meri mama ney apni mami ka milk pia or vo apney chotey betey ka rishta merey leye mangti hein kya nikah aiz hi
please zaroor bataeye ga
Allah hafiz

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