Secularism is an ideology which either denies that there is a God, prophethood and revelation or declares that the role of these is limited to the personal and inner life of man and that in the political or social sphere of human life, God, prophethood or revelation cannot by their very nature play any fundamental role. Even a cursory glance through the Qur`an and Hadith is enough to show everyone that this ideology conflicts with the very mind and heart of Islam. Yet in all parts of the Muslim world many "Muslims" are consciously or unconsciously accepting this un-Islamic ideology. There even exist political movements that have either established or are trying to establish secularist systems of government in various Muslim countries: Kemalists in Turkey, Baathists in the Arab world, Mujahideen-e-Khalq in Iran, some groups affiliated with the People`s Party in Pakistan.
Some "Muslim" secularists openly profess an atheistic outlook. They regard the Prophet Muhammad (may my life be a ransom for him) as no more than a wise man who, like so many other sages of history, made a valuable contribution to human civilization but whose time has passed away and who has no longer any relevance today, at least not as what Muslims believe him to be: the last and the greatest Messenger of God to all mankind for all times to come.
Some other secularists among Muslims are less direct, especially those who have yet to gain political power in their countries. They know that they cannot achieve their political goals with a head-on collision with the Islamic ideology. They, therefore, keep their un-Islamic views to themselves and preach their ideology in terms that seemingly do not conflict with Islam. They are munafiqin (hypocrites) in the true sense of the word.
Secularists tend to be in close links with minority groups hostile to Islam: Qadiyanis in Pakistan, Bahais in Iran, Alawites in the Arab world and Christian minorities everywhere. Along with these minorities, they provide the linkages through which foreign powers hostile to Muslims manipulate and exploit the Islamic world.
DEALING WITH SECULARISM
It is evident that secularism represents a definite threat to Islam and Muslims and the believers need to deal with it. In this connection the following points should be kept in mind:
1) Muslims have to abandon their passive acceptance of secularism. At present even those Muslims who are involved in some kind of Islamic work tend to be complacent when it comes to secularism. In fact, they are invariably harder on each other than on secularists. This attitude is, of course, contrary to what the Holy Qur`an teaches. The believers can disagree and hotly argue with each other, as the suhabah (companions of the Prophet) used to do, but they, if true believers, are always more cooperative and kind to each other than to the kafirs (those who reject God). The Book of God says:
"Muhammad is the Messenger of God and those with him are strict with the kafirin and kind among themselves. You see them bow down and prostrate (in prayer), seeking God`s grace and His good pleasure..." (48:29)
2) In order to combat secularism, we also need to create efficient and functioning institutions to take care of our needs and to establish just and democratic societies. For as long as the Ummah of believers is in disarray and our societies are under unjust and dictatorial systems, groups promoting kufr in one form or another will continue to flourish among us.
3) Secularism should be combated by the enlightened Qur`anic way, by arguments and by appeal to the signs of God that are shown to man in history, in the world without and within his own soul. The use of force should be avoided except possibly in countries where the secularists are fighting Islam with force, as, for example, in Turkey. When it comes to fighting ideas, the use of force rarely proves useful. Besides, freedom of expression is a right that should be given to everybody, including the secularists.
But freedom of expression does not mean that the secularists should be allowed to preach disbelief in mosques and in Muslim prayer gatherings. This freedom means that if some people are bent upon preaching kufr, they should be allowed to create a separate association of their own and for doing so their properties and lives must not be harmed.
Freedom of expression also does not mean that believers must silently listen to whatever kufr anyone wishes to preach. If secularists should have the freedom of expression, then so must also the believers. Therefore, whenever the secularists raise their voices of disbelief and darkness, at the very same time some believers must rise among Muslims to raise their voices of faith and light.
First published in Al-Ummah, Montreal, Canada in 1985. Copyright Dr. Ahmad Shafaat. The article may be reproduced for Da'wah purpose with proper references.