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Last Updated: 2008/11/19
Summary of question
where did secularism or the belief in the separation of religious and civil affairs emerge from?
question
where did secularism or the belief in the separation of religious and civil affairs emerge from?
Concise answer

During the renascence Christian believers came to the realization that their religion, with all the shortcomings it had, could not meet the modern social and political needs; therefore, secularism took shape.

Secularism can be considered as the legitimate child of western civilization since Christianity, having gotten distracted and intermingled with worldly temptations and attitudes could not claim to satisfy all human beings’ needs.

Detailed Answer

During the renascence that began in the mid-fifteenth century with the general inclination toward ancient Greek and Roman culture and after that, during the reformation era developed by some religious figures like Luther and also with the advent of enlightenment epoch which was actualized as a result of the general tendency toward pragmatics and intellectual spirituality , Christian believers came to the realization that their religion , suffering from a lot of shortcomings, could neither meet the modern social and political needs nor harmonize itself with the life of the modern man. Consequently, they asserted religion was revealed to human being to only bridge the gap between him and God and the hereafter and there was no need to refer to it in social and political affairs. As a result, secularism and denial of the critical role of religion in social and political arenas came into existence and secular philosophers emerged one after another.

 

As far as the Christian ideology is concerned, one can daresay that Secularism can be considered as the legitimate child of western civilization since Christianity, having gotten distracted and intermingled with worldly temptations and attitudes could not claim to be the answer to all human beings’ needs. In addition, Jesus Christ’s religion was not the last religion and he never introduced himself as the last messenger of God but by emphasizing the emergence of Ahmad( the praised) gave glad tiding on the prophethood of God’s last messenger(Islam’s holy prophet-peace be upon him and his household) .

 

However, Islam, the last religion, is immunized against the plague of distortion .therefore, the idea of secularism could not grow in the Islamic culture and only emerged when some of the Muslims familiarized themselves with western ideology and were infatuated enough to think that applying those thoughts could bring about evolution and development in Islamic communities. For instance, Dr. Jabir Asfur in his prologue on “Al-Islam Va Osulo-al-hekam” by Ali Abdulrazagh states: “we are proud of people like Refaeh Tahtavi, Muhammad Abduh and Ali Abdulrazagh and follow their footsteps since they advocate a modern government and civil society.

Further reading:

1-Mahdi Hadavi, Guardianship and religiosity, Cultural Institute of Khaneye Kherad, Qom, 2nd  publication, 2001

2- Mahdi Hadavi, belfs and questions, Cultural Institute of Khaneye Kherad, Qom, 1th  Edition, 1998.

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