Did you say ‘Secular Extremism’?

Mar 10th, 2012 | By | Category: Latest, Social

The phrase-“Give unto God what was God’s and to Caesar what were Caesar’s”- is such a charming phrase, full of all that is naïve, and based on wishful thinking.

Let me elaborate on secular grounds, using reason alone against the dogmatic principles associated with revelation, that there exists a very obvious contradiction in the statement, which is to say ‘what if God and Caesar disagree? Who to ‘give unto’ then?’

But let’s not concern the logical fallacies, or rather, intellectual dishonesties, secularists entail in their arguments. For now, we’ll bring to discussion the attitude they adopt in their desperate attempts to pin down all-things-religious.

And here comes the dilemma of our ‘pseudo-liberals’. You’ll never find them taking part in any real intellectual argument. They’ll never take your words as a basis of your argument but would rather first declare you “Mullahs”, “Ignorant”, “Religious Extremists” and so on. Then, they will simply take the stereotypes based on these words and try to throw false accusations on you.

It’s the easiest job to put your opponent in any given debate in his weakest position i.e. extremist and put words in the mouth of your opponent, based on awkward stereotypes and flawed assumptions. And by taking such childish measures they are in fact running away from any fruitful dialogue based on sound principles such as reason, empathy, honesty and maturity. Without these principles you are a child who, inattentive of what other people in the room are saying, is too busy talking to his imaginary friend. When told that there are secular extremists too, they simply deny any such thing. They simply say that only religious extremism exists as extremism belongs to the narrow minded which of course seculars can never be.

But I tend to differ.

After all, what would such liberals have to say on the secular fascism taking place on the streets of Karachi? All three political parties accused of violence in Karachi, namely the PPP, MQM, and ANP are secular parties working on purely secular motives. Alternative accounts would say that ethnic rivalries are the motives behind the everyday killings of ordinary citizens that we all have become accustomed to. But aren’t ethnic rivalries essentially secular in nature.  So can we really back away now from admitting that ‘Secular Fascism and Terrorism’ does exist in our very metropolitan?

Secular fascism doesn’t only exist; it’s all over the place. It’s the rule, not the exception. For instance, look at the word fascism itself. Its roots are in a purely secular ideology that has nothing to do with religion. Those who upheld this ideology believed themselves superior to other nations on purely secular grounds. Certainly the killing of six million Jews had no religious motivation whatsoever.

Social Darwinism is another ideology that took refuge in what it considered “positive science”. It preoccupied the mind-set of the European colonizers and gave them moral justification for all their vicious acts. Of course, since they could “scientifically” say that they are a more advanced and evolved race, it was their duty to propagate their own race throughout the globe while colonizing, and in the process, plundering, looting, raping, subjugating and exterminating, whole civilizations. After all it was “a survival of the fittest” as Herbert Spencer would like it to be. But all was justified, secularly, as the “White Man’s Burden”, which made it so easy to forget the genocide of whole civilizations in America and Australia, and enslavement of millions of Africans.

But religion is always brought to the limelight on the accusation that so many bad acts are carried in the “name of religion”. But what about the horrifying acts carried out on the basis on secular things, like ‘democracy’, ‘liberation’, ‘civilisation’ and ‘justice’.

What about the most devastating wars the world has ever seen, the world wars? Were they not fought in the name of secularism? What about the cold war that frightened humanity with the unprecedented accumulation of weapons of mass destruction, scientific espionage, false polarization, and organized violence, even wars, in the third world.

What about the making of the nuclear bomb. Would any religion sanctify of the making of a weapon that could kill millions in an instant and ruin generations to come. And what about the bombarding of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; did they have religious motives, or secular ones?

The world is full of secular people and regimes involved in horrendous crimes against humanity.Unfortunately, in our own country we see an emerging secular “liberal” class that has some very strange tendencies.

For first, it excludes anyone with a different lifestyle and view-point, from being part of that class. If you do not detest and dislike everything associated with religion, if you do not think everything wrong with our country is because of religion; and most importantly if you do not make fun of religion and religious people then no matter how open-minded you are, you sir, cannot be a ‘liberal’.

Second, it’s the greatest supporter of US imperialism. If it’s the Raymond Davis issue, they’ll say ‘Well, he has ‘diplomatic immunity (whatever that is)’; if it’s Aafia Siddiqui, they’ll say ‘she is a terrorist and deserves every piece of brutality thrown at her’. If it is a drone attack on innocent civilians, they’ll say ‘we do not have the technology so we have no other option because, after all, our lifestyle is ‘threatened’.

And third, it side-lines all human right calls when it comes to religious people; the state murder of the female students of Jamia Hafsa was justified, with no room for sympathy whatsoever, because they were used as a ‘human shield’. (So the next time a person uses your daughter as a human shield to save him from the gun in your hand, you should kill both).

Such liberals are not liberals at all. They’re extremists. Full stop!!

Saad Lakhani

About the author

Saad Lakhani is a student of Social Sciences based in Karachi. He tweets @Saadlakhani12

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23 comments
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  1. “Such liberals are not liberals at all. They’re extremists. Full stop!!”
    Very well written! I, for one completely agree with you. But be prepared for their childish attacks now. They’ll give you a good laugh and make you wonder about their mental stability at the same time.

  2. Very well written and argued Saad

  3. nice article Saad bhai … good job.

  4. I encourage you to write more on this topic. We need to realize that this(secular) other extreme of the spectrum is equally responsible for the state the country is in.

  5. Great work man… May Allah bless you

  6. It takes real real guts so step up and let out what you did! Its such fallacies and pitfalls, the false sense of being “just right” just because they condemn the “so-called relgious acts of terrorism” which although gruesome are nothing compared to the secularly motivated atrocities that were commited.

  7. Absolutely true.

  8. Brilliantly written with preponderance of evidence. One such group of liberals I find on Express Tribune. They betray the stereotypical behavior manifested in the article.

  9. Bohat ala Saad ! Well written and beautifully argued. However u will receive some ridiculous comments soon from the ‘yo’ kaum !

  10. OMG, Saad, are you serious? In an article decrying the practice of labelling all religious folks mullah, you start off with “And here comes the dilemma of our ‘pseudo-liberals’. You’ll never find them taking part in any real intellectual argument. They’ll never take your words as a basis of your argument but would rather first declare you “Mullahs”, “Ignorant”, “Religious Extremists” and so on. Then, they will simply take the stereotypes based on these words and try to throw false accusations on you.”

    Wow! Can you spell IRONY, man?

    Fortunately, I didn’t have to read much further. You have a picture of Darwin with the caption “Don’t call it racism. Call is Science”, and my eye caught a reference to Social Darwinism. If this is what you’re putting in Science’s corner, you have as little idea of what Science is you do secularism. If you’re gonna lay the ‘blame” of creation of the nuclear bomb as well as the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the doorstep of secularism, you may as well also lay it at bipedalness, stereoscopic vision or any other trait common to mankind. And btw, if you’re suggesting that wars, since time immemorial have not, more often than not, been fought for religious reasons (aha!, but those were *wrong interpretations of religion*, right?) you probably need to open a history book or two. Heck., even just stick with History of Islam.

    And in case you didn’t notice, the IRP developed nuclear weapons back in ’98. I guess it’s okay because, like those horrible secularists, devout Muslims didn’t actually *create* this unholy technology, right?

  11. Now this is just plain ridiculous:

    “But religion is always brought to the limelight on the accusation that so many bad acts are carried in the “name of religion”. But what about the horrifying acts carried out on the basis on secular things, like ‘democracy’, ‘liberation’, ‘civilisation’ and ‘justice’.”

    What exactly does “on the basis of” mean? And is this to the exclusion of religion anyway? Religious democracies like Pakistan, Israel, the US (yes, the US is very religious — try finding a presidential candidate admitting he’s an athiest!) don’t carry out horrifying acts, right?

    Very curious indeed, because you seem to be saying that “secular things” like democracy, liberation, civilization and justice are not Islamic, or religious values. You should really be more careful with your thoughts because some people have the ability to take them to their logical conclusion, Saad.

  12. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any more ridiculous…

    “After all, what would such liberals have to say on the secular fascism taking place on the streets of Karachi? All three political parties accused of violence in Karachi, namely the PPP, MQM, and ANP are secular parties working on purely secular motives”

    LOL! ALL OF THE ABOVE are also Muslims. So should Islam be responsible for the mayhem these parties commit? You obviously have no idea of the meaning of or the category ‘secular’, Saad. Let me clue you in, son. See, if each of those parties disavowed themselves from Islam (or in fact, all relgiions) THEN you MIGHT have a case for laying the blame at the doorstep of secularism. I say MIGHT because there could STILL be other factors, and as far as I’ve seen or heard, there is no Secularists Koran or Bible exhorting people to jihad of any kind anyway,

    And it really is quite rich for a Pakistani, at this time to be claiming that it’s only the non-OVERTLY-religious parties are causing more bloodshed and misery. I suppose the TTP, LeT, and assorted other characteristically Islamic parties are exhorting everyone to join hands and sing Kumbaya, right?

  13. @Pat theman

    Dude, what are you even trying to say, secularism equates atheism or something. Check the dictionary for secularism http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/secular. It clearly implies things that are neutral regarding religious matters. When the author says “democracy, liberation, civilization and justice” are secular things, he clearly means that they don’t have a religious reference.

    So because the people associated with MQM, ANP and PPP are muslims you say they are not secular. Are you just stupid? Where do you even come from. That’s like saying that Turkey is an Islamic state. No, because that would be stupid. And you here have also rendered secularism contradictory with being religious. Yeah, go tell that to the world.

    The author has clearly made a point that extremism and terrorism are not exclusive to religion. In fact, history displays the opposite. Too hard to digest, I guess

  14. LOL, Bilal, after one and three-quarter paragraphs of clarifying (quite well, I might add) the MEANING of secularism, you accuse ME of having “rendered secularism contradictory with being religious.”

    Either you haven’t read the Saad’s article, or have comprehension issues. Or maybe I was too subtle with pointing out why blaming secularism is like blaming human bipedalness in these cases.

    And btw, Turkey *is* an Islamic nation. It’s also a secular polity. In case you haven’t noticed, there are various ways in which to define classes/groups. The point is, you don’t get to arbitrarily pick what characteristics are responsible for certain actions. That calls for something like regression analysis.

    And btw, I did not imply that since those parties are comprised of Muslims, they are NOT secular. Again, you folks, in your eagerness to blame secularism, fail to understand categories. In any case, are the ANP, MQM and PPP really even secular? Can you catch any of their leaders coming out and clearly saying, “we will not let Islam (or any religion) inform our politics? Yeah, righttttt.

    BeyTa, we needn’t even go into the issue of what can and can’t be laid at the doorstep of secularism, if we are in the Pakistan context.

    re “The author has clearly made a point that extremism and terrorism are not exclusive to religion”
    Excuse me, but he hasn’t. He’s made fatuous points about the mayhem in Karachi, Social Darwinism, and the creation of nuclear technology. No one is arguing that people with a secular or athiest mindset cannot be complete a-holes too. It’s just that the way in which he seeks to makes the case against secularism is, simply, silly. I’ve already explained why, for those who care to read.

  15. “No one is arguing that people with a secular or athiest mindset cannot be complete a-holes too”. Well check again. That is what people here are arguing. In fact it’s exactly what is being said THAT Extremism IS NOT exclusive to religion. But as the author said extremism as a secular entity exists “all over the place”

    Read it more slowly (I know it’s hard to digest for you) and you’ll realize that the whole point of argument is here.. “When told that there are secular extremists too, they simply deny any such thing. They simply say that only religious extremism exists as extremism belongs to the narrow minded which of course seculars can never be.” This is the point that the writer takes and the whole following article deals with a refutation of this aspect

    So Bro, I think you’re the one with comprehension issues.

    I mean i just read the whole piece again and it clearly brings people like you to mind everytime. So clearly has he talked of such so called liberals who make assumptions of you’re whole argument. Equating you, with whatever point of view of Islam you hold, to that of an Al-Qaeda operative.

    Read your first comment again. You want irony. Well check what you qouted the writer and put it to contrast with “Fortunately, I didn’t have to read much further.” and “my eye caught a reference”. Seriously, that sounds quite assumptious to me. You’re not even reading with an open mind.

    “we needn’t even go into the issue of what can and can’t be laid at the doorstep of secularism, if we are in the Pakistan context.” Excuse me?

    Dude, so what are you trying to imply. A secular motive is not secular if in that society relgion exists? Again, where are you getting this from, seriously.

    Let’s put it another way. In a secular country were a person motivated by religion to carry out a suicide bomb attack, would it be a secular act then? Yeah, so basically you’re self contradictory.

    The writer clearly says “All three political parties… on purely SECULAR MOTIVES.” He is talking about motives. Are these parties motivated by religious motives? No, in fact their goals do in fact belong to the secular realm.

    According to John Esposito “The term secularism signifies that which is not religious. It is rooted in the Latin word ‘saeculum’ which initially meant ”age’ ‘generation’ in the sense of temporal time. It later became associated with with matters associated with this world..” (Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic world, Volume 4, p 20)

    A secular motive would then clearly be that which is not rooted in religion. That simple

  16. @pat theman

    Secularism is not being “blamed” as you have pointed out. Neither am I blaming science. I am blaming people.

    Even in a previous piece I made the point that religious people can be corrupted and so is the story of humanity. Not because of religion but because they need a moral justification for their actions and words. This is the same case as of the hegemonic neo-imperialistic states that use the moral justification of being harbingers of “equality, justice and liberty” or like the colonizers who took refuge in the ‘White Man’s burden’ and spreading civilization.

    So you see, I don’t blame secularism or religion in either case. I blame people who can belong to BOTH secular and religious realms. And my whole point is that making extremism exclusive to only the religious is wrong and that secular people could equally, often worse, be horrible people.

    In this piece my target were those who i have targeted at the end. I don’t consider them true liberals. A true liberal would be anti-imperialism. I respect them. Not these guys.

  17. @pat theman
    If you are confusing the kind of atrocities the christians threw unto scientists simply because they made observations that contradict their religious beliefs then be satisfied that such kind of atrocities were NOT committed by muslims in the time of the peak of the islamic state. NEVER were scientists burnt to death or declared heratics due to their observations in the entire history of the islamic “golden era”. You see islam, isnt the kind of mullah-centred religion that you assume it is, rather its a religion that is universal and as such it actually makes more sense compared to all other religious beliefs combined (Including but not limited to atheism and agnosticism)
    So you see, the fact that you coming here to mock a person’s beliefs is evidence in and of itself of your own insecurities regarding your own beliefs. FULL STOP.

  18. “For first, it excludes anyone with a different lifestyle and view-point, from being part of that class. If you do not detest and dislike everything associated with religion, if you do not think everything wrong with our country is because of religion; and most importantly if you do not make fun of religion and religious people then no matter how open-minded you are, you sir, cannot be a ‘liberal’.”
    my favorite para so far..

  19. We need to reflect on the proposed meaning of the terms that are susceptible to abuse in this dark age. There’s no limit to the abuse of the term extremism, etc. The most rational, sound, compassionate and/or traditional/orthodox would be called religious extremist if they say something inconvenient about modern superstitions. At a mundane level, son of America and Islam, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf notes that in reality “extremism is as American as apple pie.” He points to the fact that it’s not the problem in the context of it’s actual usage: violence is. I suppose he implicitly would agree to my adding important adjectives like indiscriminate, unjustifiable, “without right.” Synonym of this kind of violence may well be “oppression/a-fitnah”, which as per Qur’an is worse/greater than killing.

    Similarly, calling such fascist-liberals or false-liberals, or even liberals [based on philosophy of liberalism] would be a disservice and abuse of the term extremism. Because it is about wrong thinking, as such.

    Use of word extremism is only appropriate when things are view from the Centre and Origin, which is the Prophecy, or traditional, orthodox understanding of it. Anything that is away from First Principles or Centre or Revelation of Islam, is extreme. The ‘radical middle way’ from which we can keep check on extremism is very clear and pluralistic at once: the sunnah of final Prophet sent to humanity. What more need to be said on this than the fact that Prophet Muhammad warned against “ghulu” (translation as extremism) in religion.

  20. This reminds me of Mythbusters…to semi-paraphrase Adam Savage, this basically says “I reject your logical fallacies and insert my own!”

  21. Secular extremism does exist, there is no doubt in it
    but overdose of religion is a huge problem for most of
    the emerging countries and specially for South Asia!
    By many religion is considered as a complex socio-political
    system with a dose of mystery to rule and control the common
    man. People trying to give sense to their existence, trying
    to live a JUST life are often satisfied with these theories as far
    as they don’t get too far in their researches and if they live in their
    own community otherwise it hurts badly! You cant be really skeptic, cant search too far
    and thats why religions have no real place in the modern world any more! Nobody can stop that and thats where the evolution theory comes in!! What a wonderful world it would be, without any religion at all! may be in 2150!!!

  22. Totally agree with Pat Therman. This article should be included in the dictionary as an example of irony.

  23. While it seems an irony to those who wish religion death, that wish in itself is an evidence of the “extremism” of secularist extremists. Religion has been an essential part of humanity since mans existence on earth.Proof of this being the obvious archeological observation as well as the scriptural reference. For a secularist extremist government to believe that committing mass murder, such as the example of the deliberate starvation of Iraqi civilians, and thereafter the indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas, in order to further the aim of it’s secular policy as rational, normal and stable behavior, it means that we have reached a point where all forms of extremism are now in play.

    Secular societies do not hold the ethical high ground that they once claimed to be their domain after letting the leash loose on extremists within their own doctrine. It is now incumbent on rational people from all spheres of humanity, not excluding religious or secular minded people, to distance themselves from the prevalent secular extremism and condemn them as much as they would condemn the religious extremists.

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