The Smugness of Secularism

Secularism is, among many things, smug. It is so heavily dripping with ideology and prejudice — two qualities it would love to convince the lot of us that it is above — that it’s virtually impossible to take anything it says at face value. But its smugness would have no traction without its purveyors, many of whom these days are Muslims.

Of the many ridiculous statements of secularists (and perhaps especially Muslim secularists) is the notion that everything that’s wrong with the so-called Muslim world can be lain at the feet of religion in general and doubly so for Islam. This only furthers the crippling of emerging Muslim societies by discouraging them from solving their problems and challenges they face today by using the tools of genius already present within their societies and culture (influenced and informed by Islam) by shaming them for no other reason than simply being Muslim. Additionally, like a good used car salesman, secularists then proceed to sell Muslim societies on all of the wonders and benefits secularism promises to bring to their societies, a one-stop shop if you will for modernity. This sleight of hand, especially by Muslim secularists and anti-theists, is akin to a magic trick that requires audience participation for the effect to seem believable. In the end, secularists are doubly guilty of reducing the problems of Muslim societies to merely the adoption and adherence to Islam and reducing their solutions to the mere appropriation and unquestioning embracing of secularism. Like any good magician however, they do not like for you to scrutinize their techniques too closely as the house of cards their arguments are built off of may crumble. By this I mean the failures of secularism.

History is a wonderful teacher as well as a librarian who not only provides us with a means of learning from our (or other’s) mistakes, but history also keeps score. The trick, as they say today is, who’s history? His-story, or my-story? When we examine the history of secularism we can see that it not only has failed but many of the accusations it hurls at religion rebound doubly against it. This cannot be better demonstrated by the notion which secularism puts forward about the inherently violent nature of religion. As William T. Cavanaugh writes in his groundbreaking book, The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict,

“The idea that religion has a tendency to promote violence is part of the conventional wisdom of Western societies, and it underlies many of our institutions and policies.”

Cavanaugh further explains that the myth surrounding religion’s presumed violent nature is,

“the idea that religion is a transhistorical and transcultural feature of human life, essentially distinct from ‘secular’ features such as politics and economics, which has a peculiarly dangerous inclination to promote violence. Religion must therefore be tamed by restricting its access to public power. The secular nation-state then appears as natural, corresponding to a universal and timeless truth about the inherent dangers of religion.”

While secularism would like to have us believe it has handled all human disputes with dignity and passivity, the truth is very much the polar opposite. Just on body count alone, in the 19th and 20th Centuries, secularism paints a gruesome picture for us, vastly outstripping religious conflicts. And with the advent of nuclear and other devices of mass destruction, devices secular societies have demonstrated a willingness and capability to use, the future as promised to us by secularism is grim indeed.

But to return to the smugness of secularism, the following tweet is a perfect example of how secularists, especially Muslim secularists, reduce all the problems of Muslim society to theocracy, while having no critique of the bloodshed and mayhem secular regimes, east and west, have inflicted on the world. May God save us from ourselves.

One Reply to “The Smugness of Secularism”

  1. Great article Shaykh.

    I’ll add to this that secularism came about in Europe in two waves. The first wave was the Lutheran movement, which took the whole concept of giving to “God what is God’s” and giving unto Caesar what is Caesar to literal limits.

    Then the big wave of Napoleonic influence since Bastille Day 1789 – France produced the first ever constitution in European history where God was removed.

    Both movements were a direct response to the excesses of the Catholic Church, where the commoners felt ignored by the elite clergy.

    How could this model then work in the Muslim world, even Islamic Caliphate didn’t have these structural problems?

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