On Religion and the Civil State

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Wed 21 September / Sep 2016. 12:00 AM - آخر تعديل في Wed 21 September / Sep 2016. 10:26 PM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

Even though election campaigns have concluded, and with their folding, the debates that accompanied them, there still stand a variety of essential and basic issues that should be addressed with much vigour and an extended span of attention in the political spheres of the elites, beyond the conclusion of elections.

One of these issues that touch on our culture, daily lives, and systems, happens to be the debate on the civil state and religion, raised among a number of Islamists, liberalists, and pan-Arabists recently, on which Dr Marwan Moasher wrote an important article in Al Ghad’s Wednesday issue, explaining his ideas on the subject, with I happen to agree a hundred per cent. Dr Moasher’s article confronted both sides of the argument; the extremist secularist, who efforts to deviate the course of democratisation into a full-on confrontation with the totality of the spectrum of pollicised Islam, and the opposite of them; the Islamists who utterly refuse the concepts of the Civil State, and call upon the establishment of an “Islamist” State, as if Islam contradicts with Civility!

In this discourse, Moasher outlines that Islam does not contradict with the Civil States, and that the opposite of the Civil State is Dictatorship. And third, that Democracy and Civility come hand in hand, with one unattainable without the other. These three points should, in my opinion, pillar the constitutions of the current debate.

However, before we get into political and intellectual debate, it is necessary that concepts be defined, for do the concepts of the “Civil State” and “Religious State” mean? And what is Democracy? Because many of us build their judgements and come to their conclusions without exploring these concepts clearly, as they particularly are smoggy and occupy a larger space of grey area, with hundreds of definitions, whether we’re talking about Secularism, the Religious State, or even Democracy! The Civil State in particular, has no specific scientific definition for it established by researchers and thinkers.

For instance, if we explore the definitions and scopes of one of Jordan’s most prominent thinkers, specialised in Philosophy, Dr Fahmi Jadaan, who happens to be a different kind of Islamist, with quite the critical tone when it comes to Islamists; one of his most prominent publications in this field, titled “the Final Absolution: On the Promise of Islamists, Secularists, and Liberalists”, deconstructs the political dialects of all three currents, and concludes a very important outcome on the possibility, and necessity, of producing the liberalist, secularist, Islamist discourse.

Another example is one book, soon to be available in Arab in the next Amman book exhibition, by researcher Nader Hashimi, titled “Islam, Secularism and Liberal Democracy: Towards a Democratic Theory for the Islamic World”, translated by Osama Ghawji, and was an honour for me to preface.

In his book, Hashimi discusses the predicament of secularism in the Arab world, and admits that secularism is a foundation for democracy. But the problem with Arab Secularism, however, is that it has gained a nasty reputation, crashing straight into the generality of the Islamist current, instead of attempting to develop Islamist politics towards religious reformation, as once it was in Europe, to preface a point by which acceptance of secularism, or the civil state at least, and democracy, becomes a popular conviction through which people can see the attainment of their economic and political interests.

The importance of this publication lies in that the author builds his theory on comparative revaluation of the birth and development of secularism and democracy in European history, as opposed to the situation here, in an objective scientific approach, detached form baseless positions, and ready-tailored ideological debates void of accurate epistemological content.

Islamists are not all against the Civil State; take the Tunisian and Moroccan Islamic dialect for example, where in lie much progress made in this regard. The same goes for some of the Islamists in Jordan and Egypt. And proof that we can go back to Willian Baker’s “Islam without Fear”, as a primary resource on a developable Islamic dialect that can be progressed to accepting democracy, civility, and reconciliation with our era.