Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The rise of religious fundamentalism=the failure of secularism?

There is no topic capable of generating more cafe politics and intellectual navel gazing than that of secularisation and religion in the Middle East. Still, if one is to rise above the musings of the incontinent, then a serious attempt must be made to try and understand why this is even a debate in the first place, and why now and not before. Here is a short excerpt from a paper I had written a while back with a link to the full article:

In the world of Islamic discourse, there are no single accounts regarding democracy or what form a political entity should assume. Certainly one criticism of the democratic procedure put forth by Muhammad As'ad, an Islamic political thinker, is that the majority may not always be right in their choice, neither is the minority infallible (As'ad, 1985: 49). However, As'ad argues, in the absence of a better system devised for electing officials to government, a democratic system is indeed the most practical solution. Again, this does not represent the view of all religious fundamentalist groups, however, a common mistake most Western scholars do when writing about such subjects is they hardly ever consult the wealth of books and information which is produced by respected and well known Islamic thinkers. al Jazeera had held an interesting documentary where Sheikh Qaradawi had complained about exactly the same issue. He had written several books on the matter regarding Islam and the state but has never heard of any serious debate emerging from secular scholars regarding this. Islamic discourse is itself either knowingly or accidentally dismissed piecemeal.

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