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Spiritual Meditations ( 10 Apr 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pseudo Secularism, Communalism and My Journey from Fanaticism to Secularism



By Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam  

10 April 2013

If not all, then certainly the majority of us are pseudo-secularist, whether we want to accept it or not. Secularism may be defined as a separation of state and religion; and that the state will not interfere in the matters of religion and it expects the same response from religion. In some countries, like India, secularism embodies a positive concept, i.e., all religions have the same status and support from the state. A ‘secular’ person is one who does not consider oneself superior to the other person on the basis of religion, and that one does not have negative or biased feelings towards the ‘other’ religion.

So, Pseudo-secularism implies that a person puts on a mask of ‘religious equality’, but in reality he holds a very strong anti-“other religion” attitude which, at times, is even more dangerous than communalism.  To be a truly secular person you have to feel from inside that all religions are equal; and that you may be superior to “them” in any way except in religion.

Some may wonder if pseudo-secularism is really more dangerous than communalism. The answer is- yes. This is because communalism takes a massive, outward form; something like a gigantic monster, who when wakes up from its slumber is so noisy and destructive that everyone notices it; but pseudo-secularism is like a seductress, who entices us and takes us to the wrong path. She too is a monster, but a monster in disguise; hence she is not visible quite so easily.

Since we can notice communalism, we know about its behaviour; but seldom do are we aware of ‘pseudo’ secularism, hence we cannot tackle it properly. We should remember: a thing which troubles us from the outside can be cured through inside; and a thing which troubles us from the inside cannot be cured through outside. Communalism and its consequences are present on the outside and it can be cured from the inside, the ‘inside’ is the people’s hearts. Pseudo-secularism pokes us from the inside and it can never be cured from the outside, like satisfying most of ‘their’ demands, fearing about the vote bank, giving reservation on the basis of religion etc., it, too must be cured from the inside.

The first step towards removing Pseudo-secularism is to accept the fact that we, too, can be in the wrong and that others can be in the right. Socrates said that philosophy is about doubting and questioning our most cherished ideals. We must do that; otherwise there will not be much critical thinking. Secondly we should read our religious texts with meaning, without following the words of any Maulana, Pundit or father; and after that we should read other religious books and try to understand them from their perspective and their beliefs. Finally, if we could pin-point the common points and follow what is common, true peace would be established, and then there will be no ill-will for ‘them’, as there will be no ‘them’ only ‘us’.

Without going any further, let me give the summary of my journey: I was, first a liberal fanatic Muslim; then after some reading, I became a pseudo-secular Muslim; and then after some more reading and a lot of thinking, questioning and doubting, I think, I became more secular i.e., less fanatic and more liberal Muslim. From being a blind follower of Dr Zakir Naik, to becoming a critic of him; from picking out “errors” in the “other” holy books to looking for common points, I think I have chosen the “straight path”. But nobody can be sure of that, so I continuously strive for perfection. I now don’t read the Bible for simply trying to search for the “contradictions”, “absurdities”, “pornography” etc; I read it for gaining wisdom.

Pseudo- secularism is an enemy that is present inside us. We have to fight against it, and only we can fight it, no one else can. Others may help, but ultimately our own effort in removing this feeling, this negative attitude, will matter.