Secularism today, the popular practice of the world`s population, has also become a polemic and subject of heated debate between the educated, the academicians and especially so among politicians.
In fact,they accuse on another. “They are a secular group”. “They have a secular mind”. “Their belief is still influenced by secularism”
Those accused would counter accuse their accusers of also having secular minds or of being influenced by secularism. They bring forth arguments and reasons complete with lengthy theories, debating using bombastic words and terms beyond comprehension of any layman.
Those with the knowledge and understanding of secularism, especially the intellectuals, when debating the topic of secularism, still fail to explain what secularism means. Their explanations remain hazy and ambiguous even with extensive and lengthy disccussions.
There are instances when people who bring forth lengthy arguments and analysis on the meaning of secularism and who label other people as being secular, are themselves clearly seen to be secular, directly or indirectly, whether they realize it or not.
In order to understand secularism or non-secularism, it is not sufficient to rely solely on the mind or merely to revert to assumptions. To understand the meaning of secularism or non-secularism, we have to accept that it has a lot to do with how much we understand Islam itself. To confirm whether a person or a group is secular or otherwise is decided by the teachings of Islam or the Quran and Hadith (sayings of the Prophet). Allah Taala Himself makes the decision.The human mind does not have the privilege to define its meaning.
No matter how brilliant one is, one cannot freely on one`s own accord analyze this matter without first referring to what is required by Islam or by the Quran and the Sunnah (Hadith).
I, as a Muslim, when faced with this complex situation, and when faced with discussions, debates and polemics on this issue, also feel responsible and called upon to discuss this topic. Although I am not an academician nor an ulama` based on the current meaning of the terms, or based on the belief of certain people that knowledge must come with qualifications or degrees, which I do not possess, whether in academic or religious disciplines, it is still not wrong for me to get involved in debating and discussing this topic or issue. Who knows, although I am an inconspicuous man, I may be able to bring forth the truth on this question of secularism.
Even if the intellects or ulamas cannot accept my viewpoint merely because of my standing and I too do not regard myself an expert, but it is also possible that there are people of my standing or of lesser standing than I who can accept it. And owing to the fact that I am not an intellect, surely my analysis will not contain terminologies that are too philosophical and surely the layman can easily understand me.
Hopefully, I am assisted and guided by Allah Taala in writing this analysis and hopefully He simplifies the explanation so that all groups of people within the society can comprehend it.
The Meaning of Secular or Secularism
I do not have to debate or expound on the meaning of the word “secular” from the historical point of view or who was the first personality to utter the word, or in what period and why this term came about as is not important to us.
But what important to us as a principle, (so that we can be guided and are not trapped by secular ideology or secularism,) is the meaning of secularism itself from the Islamic viewpoint. As such, philosophical debates and references to history and personalities are not necessary to be addressed here, for fear that this article will become too lengthy. So we take only what is necessary for us to use as a guide. Hopefully, in our lives, no matter in what field we work and strive, we will not be trapped or be involved in the path of secularism.
Now, let us analyze secularism from the Islamic viewpoint. Secularism, in Islam, is to carry out the activities of life in this world whether in the fields of economy, politics, education, administration, culture, communications and so on in complete separation from religion or without any connection whatsoever with the Hereafter; in other words, secularism is a concept that touches purely on worldly matters. It does not have any connection with the Hereafter.
Secularism means life on earth will end on earth. If there is profit made, it will only be in this world. If there is loss suffered, it will also be only in this world. If a person is poor, it will only be in this world and if a person is rich, it will also only be in this world. It will not be questioned in the Hereafter. Rewards for good and bad deeds are irrelevant for life exists only in this world and it does not go beyond that.
In secularism, the shariah (rule of Allah) is not taken into account. In fact, the shariah has no place in life. In secularism, God does not involve Himself in the lives of man. As such, man can do anything he likes. What is important is profit. What is required is development and progress. The important thing is to gain victory and success no matter how, even if the prohibited (haram) have to be made permissible (halal). Time should not be wasted on deciding between the permissible and the prohibited. The dos and don`ts too are not considered.
In secularism, the world is not a bridge to the Hereafter or a farm for the Hereafter. Whatever happens in this world will end in this world. In secularism, there is no reward for good or bad deeds. There is no life in the Hereafter or there is no concern for life in the Hereafter. If there is at all any belief in the Hereafter, it is not taken seriously as though it is not there or it needs to be forgotten. In fact, some secularists dislike the Hereafter. When we mention the “Hereafter”, they make a wry face to show disgust. Whoever mentions the Hereafter is considered old-fashioned, backward and non-progressive.
After analyzing and debating the meaning of secularism, we now know that those who are secular belong to many groups. They can be divided into many categories. Among them are as follows:
1. The Pure Secularists
The group who do not believe in the existence of God or the Hereafter and who believe that religion is man-made and is opiate to the masses. They believe the universe came to exist naturally and on its own accord. Those who are of this belief are communists, atheists or “free thinkers”. These are the pure secularists.
2. The Secularists Who Have Been Led Astray
This group comprises of infidels who believe in God, the Hereafter and religion but who do not know God. Their belief of the Hereafter is not accurate. They have been led astray in religion. God is not involved in their worldly lives and their lives are totally separated from religion. These are secularists who have been led astray.
3. Muslim Secularists who Believe in the Existence of God.
4. Secularists Due to Being Tyranous (Zalim)
5. Secularists Who Inadvertently Change Their Intention
Muslims who carry out acts of devotion, the struggle, economy, politics, communications and so on according to the shariah, but not because of Allah Taala as it formally was. Instead, they do it now out of pride and self-conceit and to gain fame, glamour, rank, or money, whether they realize it or not. Because of this, the reward for their good deeds do not reach the Hereafter. These people become secularists because they inadvertently change their intentions.
6. Secularists Due to Secular Elements or Who Attach Too Much Importance to the World
This group is more refined than the groups above. These people do everything according to the shariah. But because they attach too much importance to life in the world compared to life in the Hereafter to the extent that they are not prepared to pay the tithes and they become miserly. They do not like to do good and they do not like to help other people. They do not like to give alms. They prefer only to accumulate their wealth and they become greedy. These people become secularists because they do things that contain secular elements or things that are secular in nature or they attach too much importance to the world.
That, briefly, is the meaning of secularism from the Islamic viewpoint that I understand. So, secularism gives importance to the worldly. Although some secularists believe in the Hereafter, they do not take it seriously or they purposely forget it and they do not take any heed. This is because their hearts cling and are tied to life in this world. It is even worse if they do not believe in the Hereafter at all. Their lives will only be solely for the world. It is also even worse if they are absolutely worldly oriented or they are truly pure secularists.
So we see at this end of time, the majority of the world population are secular, whether they believe that this life will end here on earth and there is no Hereafter or whether they still believe in the Hereafter but at heart and by attitude, they put more importance to life on earth.
It is here that a lot of Muslims have fallen into secularism. Even if they do not believe in pure secularism, at least the spray of secularism has attacked Muslims and this is the secret why Muslims cannot unite. The hearts of Muslims have been destroyed by this spray of secularism.
This is my view and opinion. If there is any truth in it, surely it is from Allah Taala , the All Knowing. If there are mistakes and errors, they are due solely to my own weakness and shortcomings, being one who do not have high education.