Pakistani Secularisms by Nadeem F Paracha

Secularims II

By Nadeem F Paracha

Dawn: Many people get sick at the mere mention of secularism because they don’t really understand what it means.

Like any other ideology, secularism too has produced a number of variants that were moulded and informed by the cultural, economic and social dynamics of the regions that they emerged in.

The central plank of secularism that remains constant across all variants is the separation of church and state and/or the parting of religion and politics.

In Muslim-majority countries like Pakistan however, secularism has largely been denounced (by religious ideologues and sometimes even by the state), as a doctrinal construct that is anti-religion and negates the existence of God.

The advocates of this claim do not differ between secularism that began emerging as an idea in Europe (from the 17th and 18th centuries), and that variant of secularism that was influenced by the writings of Karl Marx, Fredrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin and Mao Tse Tung.

Though it began as an entirely intellectual pursuit and was a gradual mutation of the Protestant rebellion against Catholicism, modern European secularism first exploded into prominence during the French Revolution (1789) as an aggressive ideology. It saw the Church and Christian priesthood to be historical tools and avenues of oppression used by exploitative monarchs and feudal lords against the people.

However, by the 19th century, European secularism evolved and balanced itself as an important component of democracy that merely wanted to keep religion within the confines of the church and around an individual’s personal space.


Categories: Asia, Separation of Church and State

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1 reply

  1. The champions of secularism, Zulifqar Ali Bhutto and his allies, sold secularism to Mullahs, for cheap popularity and to please king Faisal, at a very cheap price, by declaring Ahmadis non-Muslims in 1974, for the purposes of constitution.

    Our selfish interests play strange tricks on our thoughts and our choices!

    Bhutto’s abandonment of secularism, is the main reason, why secularism is in a dire state in Pakistan today.

    My two cents.

    For our collection of separation of Mosque-Church and State, please click here.

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