Modern Trends – Secularism

Mohammed Hijab


Channel: Mohammed Hijab


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Salam Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh and welcome to the second session on the modern trends module. Today we're going to be talking about secularism, and its connection with Islam in the Muslim world.

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Of course, secularism is something we didn't actually formally cover in the London area. And it's something very important, not least, because it's something which keeps coming up in discourses with Muslims and non Muslims, when I had a discussion with Jordan Peterson, this kind of was brought up. In fact, before I had my first discussion with him, was one of his major criticisms of Islam. And so and this is something you'll find the Western Academy, a lot of people will say, like, you know,

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why Islam isn't secular is the reason why it's behind, for example, and this is one of the main arguments they use.

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In fact, they say that this is connected to issues to do with the Reformation. I find to numerate the kind of

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the kind of arguments, the main arguments that are used about this, they say the first kind of argument is Islam, slash Muslims needs to modernize. And so really, what they mean by modernize is to secularized and that's one of the things they one of the staple part of modern world is the secular order.

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The second kind of arguments uses that Islam or Muslims need to secularize, and don't do just say it like that. They need to do that. And the third one is Islam, Muslims need to westernize

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and they are less likely to put it in those in those terms, because it has colonial connotations. But these are the three kinds of ways that it can be put across. Now, the word secular itself. etiologically comes from the Latin root word, meaning that which relates to the world. Yeah. And there's an opposition to the church.

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And it's a belief or ideological commitment to the sort of separation of religion, and this worldly affairs is from Kenny.

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Secular secularization is the process because secularism is the word and secularization

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according to Berger, is the process by which sectors of society and cultures are removed from the domination of religious institutions.

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Vernacular Lee, if you look at the dictionaries, secularism is really the separation between church and state. Now, already, what if you really think about this, which should strike you as one of the main things about the word secular? Is that the definition itself?

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I should ask, maybe I should ask, what does the definition depend on?

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The word second, what is the definition depends on if I say

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secularism is separation between religion, or religious institutions or religion and the state, what does the definition of secularism ultimately depends on the definition of

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presupposes that there's already a distinction between those two things. That Okay, but what so what do we need to if, if you didn't have this thing, you couldn't have secularism?

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There you have it, thank you very much. Okay. That's right. without religion that cannot be secularism. Think about this about it's quite ironic, actually. Because secularism is, is separation between religion, and institutions, or government or whatever, maybe. So you can't have secularism without religion. So Isn't that ironic that the thing you want to get rid of his thing you need to form what you have? Think, think of that for a second? Then you have another issue, which is that if we're saying secularism is a is a division between religion and the state, or the institutions, whatever it may be,

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then now what do we need to know what the definition of his religion? What is what constitutes his religion, what doesn't constitute his religion?

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And this is an area of great controversy.

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Because if you look at addiction, obviously, it's gonna say, all kinds of things about what religion is a belief in a Divine Being and ritual acts or these kinds of things. This is a dictionary definition, but when you look at closely, when you look at what sociologists have said,

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some sociologists have stated, I think Charles Taylor is one of them.

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Charles Taylor, has stated that religion can

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include any transcendental idea,

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even Durkheim, from what I remember, once again, included ideologies into the mix. Many sociologists said you don't necessarily need a Divine

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Being or something like that for something to be a religion. That's why Buddhism is not really some say it's a religion. Some say it's not religion, but depends on what kind of definition of religion you're using.

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Not all Buddhists believe in God, not all Hindus believe in God. We covered this when we talked about Hinduism, some, we even discuss the fact that can be atheist Hindu.

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Some Hindus classify themselves as atheist.

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You know, they said we don't believe in these gods, this is just like a you know, myth for I suppose it's part of our culture, whatever.

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The point is, is what is religion

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that is itself something which is open to discussion. But then if we say it's a transcendental idea, we have a real big problem here. Because if we say liberalism is a religion,

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if we actually state that liberalism is religion,

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and most secular states are liberal democracies,

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then secularism is undermined.

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Do you see what's going on that is very problematic. So if you say no, religion must be those things which you have a divine, you know what? being worthy of worship?

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Or something like that. So Buddhism is not a religion. So can I have a Buddhist state? If I'm a Buddhist state? Am I Am I endangering the secular ethic or not? If I have a Hindu state? Am I endangering a secular ethic or not? But then if I'm allowed the Hindu state, why am I not allowed the Muslim woman?

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Then, you know, this thing has become very dangerous now. They don't even know where to start and where to end? And this is where the competence conversations should start. What are you defining as religion? And why should those things only be religion, especially when there's a scholarly backing for all these other things to be called religion?

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And so this notions of modernization and secularization, or westernization are all contingent on these on these notions? First, we have to define what we mean by secularism, or we have to define religion. And what is the separation?

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So any questions on this on this point so far?

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No, okay. We'll go to the next thing.

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A lot of people actually cite the verse in the Bible. And I'll read it to you, which is in Mark chapter 12, verse number 17.

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Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God. And to be honest with you, this was taken out of context, because the context is taxation. It's like, you know, give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar doesn't mean necessarily mean that God's right should overtake, or the seasons right should overtake God's rights.

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This was not if you look at the verses before and afters talking about give tax to your state, basically, it's not saying that, you know, God's rights are undermined. And if you know about the biblical discussion, you'll know that James and Peter Paul had, I'm not sure if you guys are aware who James Jones, who's James?

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Yeah, he's the brother of Jesus Christ. Yeah. According to the biblical discourse and stuff like that. Yeah. There's the book of James. And he had his he had beef with Paul, you know, had big beef with.

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And Paul basically was of the opinion that, you know, you don't have to follow the laws.

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And you know, there was a big scandal with him. And if you look at the biblical discourse, on the record itself, there's a big scandal between James and Paul, and because of circumcision and stuff like that, you know, but basically, James is saying, as James was saying, you need to follow the law, you need to follow the Old Testament law. So he's very much and if you look at the book of James and other parts of the Bible, saying, you know, you cannot abandon the Old Testament law, as Paul was saying, No, God died on the cross, Jesus died on the cross. And as a result of it, you have Yanni, you don't need to follow this now, you don't actually need to follow all of the all of this

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The reason why I brought that to the table is because

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in many ways, Paul, was the first protagonist of the secular ethic. It wasn't Jesus. It was actually Paul himself.

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Because he in many ways abolished the religious law, the relevance of the religious law. But if you look at the verse have given to Caesar what is the season given to God was to God, that's not enough of a rageous enough for us to conclude that the New Testament is secular.

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If you look at the writings of Paul, yes, he was more if you like,

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couldn't he was less concerned with the laws? If you look at James were way more concerned with the law? Who was right who was wrong. That's the discussion that James Dunn and others and the Christian scholars have written about, and that's a different discussion for another day, however, to cite this verse and to say, oh, Christianity is therefore secular, I think is a weak argument. And we need to be aware of that.

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I mean, before I did, my first thing was Peterson he actually mentioned this as a quote unquote miracle of Christianity. He doesn't know

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that this is the context. And then when I spoke to him on my I've gone under under the radar

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because he mentioned that like, I said it quickly I don't think many people have I said,

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you know, give on to Caesar what is on to Caesar and give on to God was on to god yeah.

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And I said to him, What if he's out? What if Caesar was Hitler?

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And he just brushed it off and then answering? So, you know, what if Caesar was Hitler, because you know, on the one hand you if you say, well give unto Caesar, what is the Caesar? Yeah.

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If Caesar is Hitler, then you have totalitarianism, then you have Nazism, then you have all the things you hate. You can't choose your Caesar can only give it to you can give it given taxes, given what you're what you want. So this idea of a perfect separation between church and state, and give unto Caesar was and using these verses in a tenuous way to try and make a point I think is actually a very weak argument, when you look at all the context behind behind it. Any questions on that?

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Peter Berger, he's a pro. Basically, this person's a prominent sociologist, okay.

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He helped propound secularists secularization through the 1960s believes that there is a trend of de secularization

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said now we're moving away from secularization to D, secularization.

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And he even says that the assumption that we now live in a secular world is false. Now, it's interesting when you look at the UK as an example,

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because the question is, is the UK secular is actually one for discussion. It's not one way is the UK not secular? Is it not secular? Because there are institutions, which are religious, like the Church of England, for example, the Anglican Church, and that, isn't there, this intertwined with aspects of the government, the second chamber and whatever? I think they even have seats that are designated for for the church. And you'd know, right, is that correct? They have seats, I don't know how many of them though, they're in the last maybe 12 seats.

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But they're designated for for people from the church, right. And so this is clearly an imposition.

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And then on the other hand, we said the Church of England you have schools, which are Church of England schools, now, they have a special privilege.

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Church, actually, Church of England, pastors and priests, they have more privileges than almost any religious person from anyone else, anywhere else, because they get these big houses. You know, and these kinds of accommodations, the Church of England own so much land in this country.

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People think there's some kind of Toothless thing, but they have money. These guys have a lot of money. You know.

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I remember having a conversation and when I was doing my, an Oxford, because a lot of them were training to be priests.

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I said how much you get, and he was trying to play down his lane are 20 30,000 35,000.

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I said, Why would you be doing all of this? He said, because, you know, we get house and we get this? And that's okay. Well, you know,

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we don't get any of that. So clearly, there are privileges that are afforded to Christian people that are not afforded to the rest of the religions. So the question is, is this country secular? Or is this country still somewhat at least religious? To what extent is this country secular? It's not going to be this country is secular is not secular? This country, certainly not like America. America is way more secular in this country, does not have a church like that. And then the ceremonial role of the king now is he is that he is the head of the Church of England, as well as being someone who has the power to form governments in order to kind of Monarch ceremonial Monaco

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just kind of things.

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how do we reconcile the fact that the West is telling us to be secular, when they themselves haven't expanded themselves with a second reason that they espouse?

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It's a bit of a it's a bit of a contradiction, actually. And it's not just the UK, many Europe, Western European countries are like this.

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The Denmark has a monarchy, I think Norway has a monarchy, Belgium hasn't won. They have the same kinds of situations, despite the fact that from a census data perspective, almost all these countries have a downhill trajectory when it comes to population of religious people.

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Like in other words, now, I believe that the latest census

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is going to show that England has 40% Christians, which is a minority.

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I mean, they haven't released it yet. It's going to be in May 2023. But I believe it's going to show this because based on British attitudes, surveys, that's the projected so it's going to be for the first time ever since maybe the fifth century, sixth, sixth century, fifth to sixth century,

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even before what's his name, William the Conqueror, because Christianity came to this country around the fifth century

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with missionaries and all this kind of, so how long how long is this? We're talking about before Islam. That's, that's pretty that is pretty significant. Islam was in the seventh century. So Christianity came to England, like it spread and stuff around

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On the fifth century sixth century, which is about 150 years, 200 years before Islam.

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So that's 1700 years.

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Something like this 1600 years, something like this. And for the first time until that time, there'll be a minority Christian population in this country, below 50%. Were Christian.

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By, but then we still have all these Christian institutions. Muslims are likely to be around 10% 8%, maybe. So maybe in 20 years, 30 years, when Muslims and Christians are closer to being that maybe 2020 will always still have crypto England.

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Why, then then you have some issues.

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Democratic reasoning comes into play now. And this is another thing, that secularism and this is my second one. This makes everyone here today.

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I think van is His name is Van mills. Yeah. VAN Mills made this point. He's a scholar of politics, international relations, and we'll just kind of things Yeah. And he's focused on philosophical issues. He said, it's a mistake to think that the West, all of the values of the West are in unison with each other, there's all harmony. He says that there are issues relating

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to some of the values like for example, secularism was one value. But let me just give you a very simple, this is very simple, but maybe you haven't thought about it yet. In America, tell me two or three religious issues or issues which are heavily inspired by religion, which are very popular for the public to know.

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Abortion was

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transgender surgeries, transgender surgeries, transgender surgeries, like the SRS surgeries.

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I think that's yeah, and it's not been put up for referendum, let's say. So things that necessarily like something very clear, like, recently, there's been referendums about and there's been change in law.

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Teaching the Darwinism in schools. Okay, okay. That's okay. Fine. creationism and stuff. I don't know if there's been changing No, maybe state by state, I have to look at that. But once again, a state by state one, which is a very important one to do with marriage.

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Gay marriage. Okay, so you have now think of this year. America is meant to be a secular state. Correct. Alright.

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Have there been referendums? Have the public been asked about abortion?

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Sometimes they said yes. And sometimes they say no, sometimes the Supreme Court of Justice America, in a very famous course court case, called Roe vs. Wade,

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would say probably abortion things, or anti abortion things depending on if there are conservatives in the Supreme Court of Justice. If there's more conservatives or not or whatever, there's liberals there wherever.

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Sometimes they vote against gay marriage, but now they've mostly

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voted for it.

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When they're doing all of these things.

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What's that tension? What's where's the tension? The tension is between democracy and secularism. Because if you're saying to me, secularism is a separation between church and state. But yet, democracy allows me to make decisions which are inspired by religion, about issues which are politics, or socially, socially relevant to to politics or whatever.

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Then to what extent are you allowing religion to be part of the state of the government?

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Either secularism is

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or is impotent, said the second ethic has failed, or the democratic ethic must fail? So you can't have a pure democracy and a pure secularism? What if you have a democracy? And everyone says, I want this person to be in charge, who is going to implement Islamic law fully in the land, cutting the hand and doing this and whatever?

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I had the conversation one time with Adam Dean, one of the guys from Quilliam Foundation. And I asked him this very question

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online. And I said, What if I gave him this? What if and it was he was buzzing? He didn't know what to say.

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He just didn't know what to say. I said, what if you have a country 99% of people say we weren't cutting the hand, we're going to say now we're going to remove their democratic legitimacy? Or are you going to remove the secular ethic or what what are you going to do? Wherever you choose, you're preferring one set of morality or another. Because the idea is that the West presents itself as fully coherent.

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You have to copy us but it will love for you to copy us we we have to appear that we have one set of morality, which you can copy.

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That's the problem here. And that's what Van mills are saying that there is no harmony here. There's no harmony between secularism and democracy, and liberalism and these things together. And I'll give you another great example.

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And these are very important examples to remember, by the way, because they have

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Very, very powerful and own discussions with, especially with non Muslims, or people that are antithetical to Islam or detractors of it or something like that all Muslims, especially in this country,

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in this country, once again, the UK,

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in the 1940s, or 1930s, and 40s, or mainly the 40s, there was the World War, World War, Second World War.

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And there was something called the coalition government.

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Now, a coalition government means what everyone comes together when they make a big government as a grand government, big government, and that coalition government, what was their lack of

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what wasn't their mission? Say? What didn't they do?

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What No, but this if there's a coalition government, what isn't there?

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There isn't a majority. What how, why is there not majority? Because there wasn't any elections?

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They didn't have elections.

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Can you imagine this? Now? Why did they not have elections? Because and by the way, this isn't even controversial. Like, it went over the term and they won elections. There's no democracy in the country. They say, because of the security and national security and these kinds of things. We can't do elections when we're fighting the Germans, how we're gonna, we're gonna kill this one. But this battle and that battle, battle of the Somme and this vote and then do elections,

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we're not going to do these things.

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So there's no election. Now what I'm saying is, so you've sacrificed democracy for safety.

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Now, is this right, or is this wrong? So even national security can dig can can can compel you to do away with one of your values.

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So, Bill, this idea of, we constantly need legitimacy, we constantly need a mandate. We hear it now. Even this new Rishi Sunak has become, he's talking, he's pretending he has a Monday he has no mandate. In reality, he has an individual has a limited or Afghani zero, almost zero, no one voted this guy. No one voted this guy, man. And yet he can stand there with his five foot five diminished physical stature. And, you know, soccer is forward 45 kilogram self and start talking about

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I'm the leader, and I'm this. This was rather than vote for this guy, and I wouldn't vote for this guy, and the list trust come out. Same thing. This is nonsense. We want to see an election happen. Well, maybe I don't care if this election or not. But at least from a democratic perspective, that's what they should be saying. And to be fair, that is what some of them are saying.

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Yeah, no, but that's what I'm saying. Like, you know, these people are unelectable actually, like the only two okay, with the exception of Margaret Thatcher, the only two times you've gotten a prime minister as a woman is when they were forced into power with the

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despite the electoral wish.

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And the only time you got a brown man in there, when he was forced into power, and he's one of the richest person in Britain.

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This was was democracy and that

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this is diversity of democracy, for example, I mean, what's going on here?

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Kenny? So the point is, is that don't these things that they espouse, okay, we want democracy and secularism, you can't have them. What I'm saying is, it's impossible to have an unfettered democracy and an unfettered secularism at the same time. That's my claim.

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That's a simple enough claim says, We want you to modernize and secularism. Does your vision of modernization include democracy? Yes, it does. So if your vision of

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if your vision of

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modernization includes democracy, then you must understand that you cannot have an unfettered or unrestricted democracy and unrestricted secularism. So which one should we choose? They say, let us have the secularism. So what should we not have democracy then

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always have the democracies you don't have the secularism there?

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and on what basis are you making this decision, or it's not be a democratic basis, because you can't be making a secular decision. And despite democracy using a democratic basis, what will be a liberal basis and I have a third ideology, because secularism and and liberalism are two separate ideologies. There are different things. Like when I was doing my undergraduate degree, and there was a there was a book that I read by Bob Ross, called using political ideas, should have a separate chapter for democracy and a separate chapter for liberalism. There's two separate things. They're two separate things. We're talking about two different assumptions, different ideology, different

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thing. So you, so if you have liberal liberalism now, and liberalism is saying the harm principle, but then the democracy goes against the harm principle. It's either now the harm principle of this. There's so many contradictions, there are actually so many contradictions.

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And then when you bring in freedom

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speech and free expression, then you have the real problem. Because you got a free speech absolutist.

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And they'll say we want for complete free speech, so long as you're not inciting violence. That's what they say.

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Okay, so what do you say about mocking the Holocaust? Not just, I'm not saying

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denying the Holocaust.

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Because it's illegal to do that in Germany and many other countries. I'm saying, would you say about mocking it?

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They'll say, No, we can mock the Holocaust. But this will offend, and this will harm the people and this will do this and that. But no, we can't mock the Holocaust. Can you mock the Holocaust? You're not McDonald. So everything here is arbitrary. And unfortunately, it goes back to the elites.

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And that's what we're seeing a lot of the decisions being made on cancellation on this on that wherever based on who is at the top, certain things can be said certain things cannot be said. It's arbitrary. There is a false is a facade the veneer of Yeah, you guys are free any. Have you heard of the Panopticon as it called the Panopticon by Jeremy Bentham is basically this idea that it's a prison where you can see everybody in every cell from the because there's mirrors everywhere, you can see it here. So the criticism, the modern criticism of the western world is that you are letting us do what we want, or at least think that we're doing what we want. You're letting us go here,

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there, but you're seeing exactly what we're doing. And you were in your prison. But as soon as we go outside the bounds, you're gonna start dealing with us in a way, which we don't know we're going to do. And quite frankly, in many ways, honestly, a totalitarian system can be better than that. Because we have a totalitarian system. If you're living in an under a dictator dictatorship, you know, where the boundaries are. If I do this, this guy's gonna beat me up. The worst thing is, I don't know where the boundaries are. I don't know what's gonna kill me, put me in prison, when the drone is going to come, where there's going to be an extra judicial killing. I don't know, when it's

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just gonna be arbitrary based on the strategic decision making of the elites. In many ways, that's a more trepidatious plays to be

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anxiety ridden place to be than a dictatorship because what a dictatorship you know, if I say these words about the politics, this ruler, if I say these words about this particular ruler here, I speak about politics. If I do this, they're gonna kill me. Well, they're gonna put me in prison and torture me. Okay, I know the rules. I get it. I understand it. It's very straightforward. Actually. Dictators only one is very good at making us know what he's good at what he wants.

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Very good. By Yanni in the West, you go here you go there. Your accounts are fraud this morning, my account was frozen.

00:27:41--> 00:27:49

I'm being serious. This is not a second time. Okay. Now I get your cameras frozen this and that. You have to go to this, the police comes.

00:27:50--> 00:27:59

Every time you do this, you don't know why they're doing even you don't know what you've done. And in many ways, that's an awesome place to be.

00:28:00--> 00:28:02

Maybe I've just gone abroad, sorry.

00:28:05--> 00:28:06


00:28:08--> 00:28:12

Yeah, so it was Charles Taylor, who said, it's a transcendental system.

00:28:18--> 00:28:20

And with that, it's a very short session.

00:28:21--> 00:28:28

But with that, we will conclude this is the first session on secularism. Any questions before we conclude on some of the stuff that we said today?

00:28:29--> 00:28:49

By Fantastic, well, we'll see you guys later. We're going to be speaking about modern trends for the next three weeks, and then we'll move on to some shortcut. This is the second I think it's four weeks sorry, I should say four weeks because be six weeks overall. This is the second session on modern trends, and inshallah we'll be seeing you next week with someone at my house in Africa.