‘Islam and Secularism’ - Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas
Written 40 years ago, this book is one of the most creative and original works of a Muslim thinker in the contemporary Muslim world. The author deals with fundamental problems faced by contemporary Muslims and provides real solutions, beginning with a discussion on ‘The Contemporary Western Christian Background’ in Chapter (I), followed by his analysis of the concepts (which he newly defines) of ‘secular’, ‘secularization’, and ‘secularism’ in Chapter (II). All this is then contrasted in Chapter (IV) of the book entitled ‘Islam: The Concept of Religion and the Foundation of Ethics and Morality’.
Based on all the preceding explanation, the author proceeds to analyze the Muslim ‘dilemma’ by declaring that it should be resolved primarily through what he calls the “dewesternization of knowledge” or, conversely, the “islamization of contemporary knowledge”, an original concept conceived and elucidated by the author for the past five decades. Numerous original and profound ideas are contained in this book—arrived at chiefly through critical study of the Muslim tradition—such as the concepts of dīn, ‘adl, ḥikmah, adab, ma‘nā, and ta’dīb, and their significance in the development of an Islamic system of education.
The rationale for the Islamization of contemporary knowledge and the establishment of a truly Islamic university was in fact provided for the first time in contemporary Muslim thought by this author long before the appearance of the present book, which explains these interconnected subjects more concisely. Further, the appendix entitled, ‘On Islamization: The Case of the Malay-Indonesian Archipelago’ is an actual explanation and application of the seminal ideas discussed in the book. This is a must read for all Muslims and those concerned with the problems and effects of secularization in our world today.