Islam and the notion of secularism have quite a complex relationship throughout history. For many Muslims, however, secularism is viewed as an instrument used to undermine religious heritage and deny the relevance of moral teachings to public life. While this perception has an element of truth, it does not necessarily depict the general nature of Western secularism.
Evidently, Muslim perceptions of secularism are not formed through an understanding of the original purpose and historical circumstances of Western secularism, but is influenced by the Muslim experience of secular dogmatism and the intolerance of the secular state in contemporary Muslim societies, most notably that of Atatürk’s Turkey.
Dr Nader Hashemi’s book “Islam, Secularism and Liberal Democracy”, first published in 2009, is one of the very important academic literatures that attempts to make sense of this collective trauma towards Secularism in the Islamic World.
In this book, Hashemi revisited the history of secularism as an idea in both the Western and Muslim experiences and try to put forward an explanation and reconciliation to the alleged tension between the two. Hashemi firstly challenged the widely held belief among social scientists that religious politics and liberal-democratic development are structurally incompatible. He argued for rethinking of a democratic theory so that it will incorporate some facets of religion in the development of liberal democracy.
He later urged Muslims to construct their own indigenized version of secularism and democratic theory based on their organic socio-cultural Islamic traditions. In this book he examined three case studies from Iran, Turkey and Indonesia, and concluded that there is already a robust debate on reformulating religious political thought from within, and this trend must get wider attention and be replicated by other Muslim countries in their own societal and political context.
Hashemi’s mastery of both the Western and Islamic political thoughts, paired with an in-depth knowledge on political history from both civilizations, has led him to produce this profound scholarly work that comprised of rich and critical insights on the predicaments that have fallen upon the Muslim countries. And the Islamic Renaissance Front has decided to translate this book into the Malay language with the hope that it will ignite further discussions among the Malaysian public and enable them to be enlightened on the issues of Secularism and Liberal Democracy.
1430 – 1440: Welcoming speech by the translator Mohamad Basil Hazman Baharom
1440 – 1500: Opening speech by YB Nurul Izzah Anwar
1500 – 1510: Speech by the moderator, Dato’ Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa
1510 – 1600: Speech by Dr Nader Hashemi
1600 – 1615: Speech by Dato’ Redzuan Khusairi
1615 – 1630: Speech by Dr Mustafa K Anuar
1630 – 1645: Speech by Dr Azmi Sharom
1645 – 1725: Q & A session
1725: Token of appreciation to the panelists by YB Nurul Izzah Anwar