Secularism vs. Islam
by Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi
From 'Al-Hulul al Mustawradah wa Kayfa Jaat `alaa Ummatina'
("How the Imported Solutions Disastrously Affected Our Ummah"), pp 113-4
Secularism may be accepted in a Christian society but it can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society. Christianity is devoid of a shari`ah or a comprehensive system of life to which its adherents should be committed. The New Testament itself divides life into two parts: one for God, or religion, the other for Caesar, or the state: "Render unto Caesar things which belong to Caesar, and render unto God things which belong to God" (Matthew 22:21). As such, a Christian could accept secularism without any qualms of conscience. Furthermore, Westerners, especially Christians, have good reasons to prefer a secular regime to a religious one. Their experience with "religious regimes" - as they knew them - meant the rule of the clergy, the despotic authority of the Church, and the resulting decrees of excommunication and the deeds of forgiveness, i.e. letters of indulgence.
For Muslim societies, the acceptance of secularism means something totally different; i.e. as Islam is a comprehensive system of worship (`ibadah) and legislation (Shari`ah), the acceptance of secularism means abandonment of Shari`ah, a denial of the divine guidance and a rejection of Allah’s injunctions; It is indeed a false claim that Shariah is not proper to the requirements of the present age. The acceptance of a legislation formulated by humans means a preference of the humans’ limited knowledge and experiences to the divine guidance: "Say! Do you know better than Allah?" (2:140).
For this reason, the call for secularism among Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam. Its acceptance as a basis for rule in place of Shari`ah is downright riddah. The silence of the masses in the Muslim world about this deviation has been a major transgression and a clear-cut instance of disobedience which have produces a sense of guilt, remorse, and inward resentment, all of which have generated discontent, insecurity, and hatred among committed Muslims because such deviation lacks legality. Secularism is compatible with the Western concept of God which maintains that after God had created the world, He left it to look after itself. In this sense, God’s relationship with the world is like that of a watchmaker with a watch: he makes it then leaves it to function without any need for him. This concept is inherited from Greek philosophy, especially that of Aristotle who argued that God neither controls nor knows anything about this world. This is a helpless God as described by Will Durant. There is no wonder that such a God leaves people to look after their own affairs. How can He legislate for them when He is ignorant of their affairs? This concept is totally different from that of Muslims. We Muslims believe that Allah (SWT) is the sole Creator and Sustainer of the Worlds. One Who "…takes account of every single thing) (72:28); that He is omnipotent and omniscient; that His mercy and bounties encompasses everyone and suffice for all. In that capacity, Allah (SWT) revealed His divine guidance to humanity, made certain things permissible and others prohibited, commanded people observe His injunctions and to judge according to them. If they do not do so, then they commit kufr, aggression, and transgression."