Secularism – as a necessity

Spread the love

Inshan Atta
The term secularism opens the window to a huge controversial debate whenever discussed in the intellectual circles. It finds even least space in country like Pakistan where discussing the secularism is no less than a crime, let alone propagation of such an ideology. Discussing secularism and having a rational debate on it and its application in Pakistani society is avoided mainly because of two reasons. Firstly, those who are religiously inspired and have a belonging to a deep religious family tend to turn their ear deaf from letting themselves involve in the debate on secularism. Secondly, those who are totally oblivious of utility of secularism as a political system in the modern times keep themselves distant from it. More often they are tempted to do so by being injected with certain wrong definitions or misinterpretation to them is offered. Penetration of irreligiousness in the society, for example, is said to be as an outcome of secularism. It is antithesis to religion. They are intimidated by the idea that the application of secularism will eradicate their religious beliefs and customs. However, such a notion is far from the veracity. It is totally wrong and irrational proposition which is being infiltrated among masses by conservative ones. Secularism is rather a political ideology which chiefly seeks to distance a religion from the state affairs. It is an idea that intends that the laws of a state and politico-economic system of a country should not have its basis on any religion and its principles. It must not be representing the injunctions of any religion. And its chief focus happens to be on schism of religion from state affairs because religion is an individual matter while the state is a collective body representing and protecting each citizen with equality. It seeks to render the roadmap that the state should be operating as neutral respecting all religions and providing the equal opportunities to all its citizens, irrespective of any religious identity. Under it, State should also bear the responsibility to protect and facilitate those who do not belong to any religion, atheists. Secularism is to provide to its citizens such an environment where they could freely worship, preach and disseminate their respective religions. It is also generally perceived that adhering to secularism would mean that exclusion from religion and denial of religious beliefs. However; it is totally misguiding. Following secularism is by no means exclusion from religion nor is it negation of it. Yuval Noah Harrari, one of the renowned historians and pioneer of three highly recommended books, in his book 21 Lessons for 21st century has refuted such an idea saying that secularism doesn’t mean negating religion or negative indoctrination against it. Nevertheless, in secularism, you can go on calling yourself Muslim, praying to one Allah, eat pure (halal) and perform hajj (pilgrim) in Makah, yet you can be a secular if you happen to be in sync with certain ethical codes of secularism. In secularism, citizens happen to be at the topmost priority. It is the citizens who are considered as an essence of the state. However, in the religious state, religion not the citizens is the cornerstone and the sovereignty belongs to God, not lies within the hands of people, and this is what may be hailed as negation of fundamental democratic principles. There are numerous countries around the world having their political as well as economic systems’ basis on the cannons of secularism. France, for example, is a secular state under article 2 of its constitution with its entire political and economic system based on secularism. Religious intolerance, discrimination, religious disparity and religious extremism have scant space in secular societies. That’s why the people of secular states are free from the numerous evils, and are more prosperous and developed than those of religious countries. It is so because in secular states citizens are the priority, not the beliefs of any religion, though they beliefs are respected and preserved. However, in contrast, the states which are created in the name of religion or having its political and economic system based on it are lagging far behind in every aspect of human development. The reason of being backward is obvious that they focus on preservation of religious principles and practices instead of citizens themselves. Moreover; citizens are never a top priority in the religious states because religion is just a tool which is used by politicians for political engineering to achieve their political gains, pushing people sink in the depths of poverty, unemployment, crime and lawlessness. Pakistan, for example, is a religious state where Islamic injunctions are prioritized and implemented when it comes almost every decision making despite the fact that other communities live here too. Resultantly, numerous issues like discrimination on religious basis, religious exploitation, religious extremism and blasphemy- related issues emanate. Pakistan being a religious state and abundant influence of mulans in state decision making has thwarted the country from developing manifold. Moreover; citizens are made part of state machinery after being judged on the basis of religious affiliation or under being the influence of extremist mulans. For example; when erstwhile Prime Minister imran khan wanted to include the top class economist, Atif Mian, in his cabinet, extremists ones came out in streets and opposed the inclusion just on the basis of his being an Ahmadi. This is how the religious based states treat their citizens on religious basis rather than on the basis of competency, keeping religion aside. Religion in many ways stifles a state from embarking upon the trajectory of modernization and technological innovations and hurls a state into the depths of backwardness as the principles of modernization and religious beliefs are incompatible. Thus, now an apt time has come for Pakistan to morph itself from a religious state into a pure secular country where political and economic system should have their basis on secular principles so that the use of religion for political gains could come to halt and multiple heart- wrenching and inhumane activities happening in the name of religion could also be brought to stagnation.

Similar Posts