Islam and Secularism


Secular law can be defined as law, which does not depend on the religious beliefs of the parties involved. The question immediately begged by such a statement is, 'Who decides what such laws should be or that there should even be laws which don't depend on the religious beliefs of the parties involved?'

The ardent pro-secularist will say that the majority decides what such laws are and what their extent is. The Muslim should say that Islam prescribes such laws and to what extent they are implemented in society depends on the influence and power of the Muslim community and or other communities who also want those particular secular laws implemented.

What those secular laws are which Islam prescribes relate to a number of areas but in broad terms they are the 5 basic universal rights that have been outlined above : life, property, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and honour.

The next question that arises is whether a state can implement some secular laws and some non-secular laws. A good example of a non-secular law is the law on marriage. In some countries this law still has very Christian overtones and everyone regardless of their religion must go through the ceremony to be recognised in law as married. Generally the West has muddled the two types of law and starting from a position of very Christian law have diluted it into less and less Christian forms.

In contrast, Islam makes a clear distinction between secular law and non-secular or religious law and to as great an extent as possible it prescribes enforcing both types. The Christians have their own marriage law in Islamic countries and that is what is enforced for them, the Jews have another marriage law and the Muslims another. Each religious group has in principle its own distinct non-secular laws and as far as is it wanted by each group and as far as is practically possible they are all enforced by the Islamic State. Each religious group builds their own judicial system and reaches agreement with the state on how their laws will or won't be enforced.

Communism has had a set of secular laws. The West has a set of secular laws. Islam has a set of secular laws. Out of these three Islam's set of secular laws gives the greatest meaning to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, communism's set of laws gives the least (if any) meaning to freedom of conscience or freedom of religion and the West's set of secular laws is somewhere in between.

One key area in which an Islamic state would change the way a country works is through the laws on trade. An Islamic state would manage the property rights of people (at least the Muslims) according to some key principles of moral economics. This forms the important field of Islamic economics.


Islam for the Western Mind - Contents Page Home Back Contact Us! External links