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Islam and the Secular State pdf download

📘 Book Title Islam And The Secular State
👤 Book AuthorMunavvarov
🖨️ Total Pages124
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🌐 LanguageEnglish
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Islam and the Secular State Edited by Z.I. Munavvarov and W. Schneider-Deters


Book Foreword

Undoubtedly, the relationship between the religious and the temporal spheres of life has been of vital importance in the functioning of states throughout man’s history.

 This applies equally to all communities, for the intrinsic values of any human society are largely based on some religious outlook. Reaching a rational consensus on these two major components of human life is therefore of paramount importance.

This consensus or balance becomes the standard against which the adequacy of any community’s current condition and prospects for progress must be measured. Any imbalance produces painful effects on society, tending to hinder its advance and sometimes even resulting in disastrous consequences.

In all times there have existed some forces asserting the primordial authority of religion to intervene in every aspect of a community’s life, and others demanding that religion be confined to the realm of the spiritual.

Occasionally the relations between the two opposing forces became so antagonistic that whole countries were plunged into an abyss of chaos and obscurity.

Let us recall, for instance, the times of the Great Inquisition, when Europe witnessed burnings and horrendous tortures, the victims of which included some of the greatest minds, whose ideas continue even today to serve as a guiding light for mankind.

The fate of Siger De Brabant, who was convicted for his development of Ibn Rushd’s ideas, the lot of Giordano Bruno, Nicolaus Copernicus, Nicholas of Cusa, and many other thinkers who suffered for their beliefs, bear eloquent testimony to the hardships that accompany the process of shaping a natural interrelation between the religious and the secular life in society.

 This process displayed no less tragic manifestations in the life of the Muslim East. To put it in modern terms, one may say that the process of separating secular power from religious authority developed along lines that proved not dissimilar to those of the Christian West.

Abu Mansur al-Hallaj, a great Sufi, was burned to death for his original views on the perception of God’s essence. Such giants of Muslim scholarship, philosophy, and art as Ibn Sina, Abu Rayhan al-Biruni, Abu-l-‘Ala’ al-Ma‘arri, ‘Umar Khayyam, and many others were all mercilessly persecuted and ostracized for their convictions.

The best minds in both Europe and the Orient became increasingly aware of the dangers that the domination of religious thinking involved for universal progress, and constantly searched for a solution to this most crucial problem.

After some time these efforts resulted in the emergence of a scientific and philosophical school that figured prominently among a wide range of scientific theories dealing with problems of humanitarian development.

Our current knowledge demonstrates the considerable progress attained by European science and practice in the research into, and the development of, the question of the separation of church and state.

History shows that this advance was largely due to the fact that the predominance of religion in the life of medieval European society became so unbearable and assumed such monstrous proportions that it mobilized people of reason to seek a solution.

In today’s world, the concept of separating religion (church) from the state is seen to vary from one social group to another and, more importantly, from one country to another. This is borne out, in the first place, by the experience of democratic Europe.

The differences are manifest in the culture of organizing the relationship between state and religion, and in how people in this or that country see the core of this problem depending on the degree of their religiosity.

On the whole, the European experience clearly shows the bankruptcy and absurdity of the assertions whereby the ex-communication of religion from secular state affairs leads to the formation of an atheistic state and an immoral society.

It is an indisputable fact that European democratic states provide to all of their citizens freedom of conscience and, most importantly, freedom of worship both as a fundamental human right and as an unqualified recognition of the role that religious institutions play spiritually and morally in man’s self-improvement.

An integral part of practically every European nation’s mentality, such freedom confirms the legitimacy of religious institutions’ reluctance to manage secular affairs in the modern world.

In today’s Europe one no longer speaks about the need for separating religion from state; in fact, this issue is off the agenda for good.

But European science continues to develop its in-depth study of this vital scientific problem, the application of which had considerably grown in importance by the end of the past century.

This was largely due to the dynamization of some processes in the Islamic world, which is estimated to comprise as much as one-sixth of the world’s population today. European scholarly interest in this undoubtedly critical issue is substantiated by two factors.

Firstly, in practically every European country there is a steadily growing number of people of Muslim origin who have their own understanding of the essence and forms of the relation between state and religion.

It should also be noted here that Muslim diasporas in some European countries already number millions of people.

Secondly, with the globalisation of international relations now on the increase, any development in the relationship between religion and state in Muslim countries not only becomes immediately known to Europeans, who in their majority belong to Christian culture and have a secular scientific understanding of the core of this problem, but also provokes further consideration of this issue.

The end of the 20th century saw an upsurge of forces in different parts of the vast and spiritually and culturally varied Islamic world that upheld the age-old radical Muslim slogan about the indivisibility of authority and religion in Islam.

This activisation was caused by specific factors which gained momentum in this particular period of man’s history, the most important of which has to do with the global geopolitical changes resulting from the former Soviet Union’s disintegration and the coming of the next phase of the emerging new world order.

Without going into detail about the consequences that this epoch-making event entailed we shall indicate only one that is of a spiritual nature. The disintegration of the superpower known under the abbreviation of “the USSR” meant not just the fall of yet another empire. It also signified the loss of spiritual landmarks for a vast majority of the world’s population.

The final discrediting of communist ideals, which had for decades been inculcated into the minds of people in a vast portion of the globe, sent them into a psychological stupor and left a great spiritual void.

As history shows, such critical moments tend to activate society’s most organised forces, advocating ideas that appeal to the broad masses and are often clothed in nationalistic and religious language.

 This was especially characteristic of the so-called post-Soviet region, which for decades had been accumulating a huge potential for an upsurge of nationalistic and religious sentiments.

This highly ideologised empire, bent on a spiritual and cultural unification of different peoples and ethnicities under the supremacy of Russian culture, denied its peoples any opportunity to advance their own political and economic interests. It also limited their possibilities for the spiritual and cultural self-expression of their unique national, cultural, mental and psychological aspects.

At the same time, the official atheism that was practiced on the state level throughout this period had a potentially explosive consequence: the peoples’ extremely negative attitude toward the state and the enormous hostility that had accumulated in the broad masses against such policies.

The first decade of the sovereign development of NIS countries, especially those with predominantly Muslim populations in Central Asia,

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