I had an interesting discussion with a gentleman named Imran in comments recently and came across a semantic difference that I want to point out, it was also highlighted on the Glenn Beck program today in a discussion with novelist Brad Thor. (On the strength of what Brad said I also picked up a copy his new book “The First Commandment”.)
As used in the Muslim world most who call themselves secularists refer to a separation of mosque and state, and therefrom the protection of the state’s rule of law from over-ride of the mosque’s sharia as interpreted by the ruler or mullah-of-the-moment.
In the West the secularists have “progressed” from separation of church and state to eradication of all signs of faith. This is flatly wrong. If it bothers you that “In G-d We Trust” is on our dollar bills, you need to get a grip. There’s nothing wrong with the government acknowledging that most of the people in this nation believe in G-d.
No, I can’t believe because it’s my nature not to, but I respect that others do believe and that they derive strength, support, values, and morals from their faith. I find that a good thing, even for us aetheists. Most of our classical liberal values derived directly from Judeo-Christian morals and values, so to throw that aside or attempt to deny the genesis smacks of moral incertitude to me. It tells me that the philosophy, esthetics, and values you base your secularism on are flawed at root and therefor weak.
The difference between the reformed West and the current world of Islam is that it’s a much greater task for an Islamic state to overcome this divide than for Christianity. In Christianity you have free will. You volunteer to be good, moral, god-fearing, and the church doesn’t want you if you don’t voluntarily commit.
The concept of free will in muslim societies is overridden by two things: servitude to Allah, and in turn from that servitude to the current “Emir” as designated by their prophet in the Quran and subsequent Hadiths.
When taken to even moderate extremes, these two over-ride any protections you might wish to create for individual freedoms, or for human rights as the Western secularists would state it. Where the state cannot deny individual liberties, then the church can. If it’s not the state, then by right the family leader, or the tribal leader can through simple unelaborated interpretation of the surah.
The Emir concept is why Islamic states easily fall into a strong-man or alpha-leader structure — whether that Emir is a dictator, a king, your dad, the mullah, the tribal leader, or a madman who happens to be in control, then by Allah you must follow him. Until muslim scholars ameliorate this problem with individual or human rights and the dictates of religion, then there will be few democracies in the Islamic world, and human rights will be applied inconsistently.