Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Suffah Study Circle 3

Hasanul Arifin

Secularization has no roots in Christianity (and Islam)
Contrary to popular understanding that secularization is inherent in biblical faith, secularization is in fact has no roots in Christianity. This attempt to justify secularization comes not from the bible but from the Western man's interpretation of the bible, due to their long history of philosophical and metaphysical conflict between dogma and reason.

In fact, there is evidence in history to demonstrate that the early Christians consistently opposed secularization. Contrary to secularization, Christianity has always preached a closed metaphysical world view. Christianity consistently assimilated certain idols and icons (e.g the cross as the symbol of the religion, saint worship etc.) and did not deconsecrate values the way secularization does.

The separation between religion and the state as observed in the history of the West occurred not because Christianity 'realized' the secular message in the bible, but because it was an attempt to slow down the tides of secularization.

This claim that secularization has its roots in the Christian religion can thus be regarded as fanciful and a clever yet subtle attempt to "extricate Christianity from its own self-orginated dilemmas."

Unfortunately, some Muslims are also arguing the same way; attempting to justify secularization by arguing that it has roots in the Islamic faith. They freely quote the verse:

“Behold! Allah changes not the condition of a people until they change that which is within them. [13:11]”

They interpret 'change' here in the secularistic sense; change implied as a deconsecration of values. This is a clear deviation from the intended meaning of the verse as understood by the early authoritative scholars, because 'change' here refers to 'negative change' or in other words a 'corruption'.

The verse that follows from the verse above supports our view:

"If Allah wills misfortune for a people, there is none that can repel it, nor have they any defender other than Him [13:11]”

Therefore there is no other way to view secularization except in a negative light; that it is an anti-religion philosophical process and that it only "brings misfortune for a people" as mentioned in the verse above. Any attempts to justify secularization in religion should be properly rejected.

Refuting secularization
Firstly, if we are to accept the validity of the secularists' assertions that the early Christians "had made a grave fundamental mistake, and had misled Christians in the course of their spiritual and intellectual history" by not realizing the secular message of the bible, this also means that the whole of Christian doctrines should be rejected too because the early Christians can also make mistakes in those things. How can they be sure that the early Christians only made the mistake of not realizing the secular message of the bible and not other mistakes too?

The same applies to the religion of Islam. If Muslims start to doubt the reporting, formulation and conceptualization of Islam by the early authoritative scholars the same way that secularized Christians are doing, it undermines the whole of Islam altogether.

Secondly, if we are to accept the validity of the secularists' assertions that the early Christians had wrongly interpreted the bible, this also means that "God sent His revelation or revealed Himself to man when man was in his 'infantile' stage of 'evolution'."

This again is very problematic, because it also means that the early Christians were too immature to understand the bible correctly. If such is the case then this would mean that in all other matters they would have made mistakes as well. This casts doubt over the reliability of reporting the revelation properly. This applies to Islam as well; there can be no room for doubting the reliability of the early Muslim scholars, because when there is doubt, the whole idea of religion collapses altogether.

At the same time, why would God reveal himself to infantile man? As the Creator, He should know when Man is ready to receive and understand His Revelation?

In response to this, the secularist may say that God sent His Revelation to "initiate the process of maturing in him" so that when he has reached maturity he would be able to know its true meaning and purpose.

But if that's the case, who decides when Man is matured enough to understand? Is Man matured in this modern, secular age? If he is matured now, then why is he still inadequately informed about God and still groping for the meaning in God?

Two Christianities
Christians are unable to be certain about their own religion because there exists various reports of the bible that are contradicting. The gospel of St Barnabas and other reports that of Ante-Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers contradict the 'official' version.

Which is why in the Muslim perspective, there actually are two Christianities; the original monotheistic and true one and the Western version of Christianity.

It is the followers of the true and original Christianity that the Qur'an categorize as Ahl al-Kitab, who believed in the original and true teachings of the Prophet Jesus and would join the ranks of Islam with the coming of Rasulullah S.A.W. These are the people that were referred to in the Qur'an as nearest in love to the Muslims.

The Ahl al-Kitab hence does not refer to the Trinitarian Westernized Christianity that is propagated today, who, due to their misapplication of Greek philosophy, ushered them into an era of doubt and skepticism. This subsequently opened doors to agnoticism and atheism, and then utilitarianism, dialectical materialism, evolutionism and historicism prevalent in the mind of Western man.

As such, with regards to the "Allah" issue in Malaysia, the Trinitarian Western version of Christianity has no right to use "Allah" because they attach different, improper meanings to Him. It is the monotheistic Christians who have the right to use "Allah" because they understand "Allah" the same way as Muslims do.

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