Pakistan En route to secularism? Will there be a backlash against violent Sectarianism?

Dawn.com: Syed Muhammad Haider; What Pakistan did Jinnah want?’ is a question still being debated some 65 years on since the partition. Did he intend to establish a secular Pakistan (a state impervious to religion), or a country to be run according to the Sharia (Islamic religious law, based on Quran)? The disparity between these two conflicting school of thoughts is only mounting by the day – as evident on social media, at least –  with each group getting fervent in advocating their perceived ‘ideal state’.

While the debate is healthy and should be encouraged, it goes awry when proponents of Islamic-rule perceive secularism as something atheistic; amiss still, when the secularists start picking on the religion per se – both are skewed approaches to the debate, and manifest ill-informed opinions on the subject.

I think the main cause of religious class comparing secularism with atheism is that it’s the atheists who are the staunchest supporters of secularism. In a recently published article in the guardian, for example, Julian Baggini, editor of The Philosophers’ Magazine,  has presented a ‘manifesto for heathens’ declaring: “we are secularists” – no surprise, however. Point is, religious people get skeptical (and cautious) of secularism because of such associations. Contrarily, secularists use essentialist clichés as their argument which cast Islam as an obstacle to democracy and religious tolerance; sometimes, even as a regressive, torpid religion which has no relevance in the contemporary world.

Secularism refers to a principle whose political expression is separation of religion and government. The object is to afford all the religious minorities, individuals, and smaller groups an equal opportunity and rights to observe their religion freely, placing none on the pedestal. The principle profits minority religions as much as atheists; so, if people support secularism, (the ideological principle behind secularisation) they can still be religious, privately.

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2 replies

  1. “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State” These are words of Quaid-E-Azam speech to constitutional Assembly.
    What is This? Secularism not Theocracy.Quaid-E-Azam was a Secular leader not a Theocratic.
    Quaid-E-Azam was a Muslim liberal Leader believing in Islamic teaching ( La Ikrah Fi Din ).
    The Question is that Is Islam a Secular Religion or a Theocratic Religion? When Islam says ” La Ikrah Fi Din ” ? ?

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