Sunday, July 08, 2012

Can Islam Separate Church and State?

In the early seventeenth century, leaders of Christian countries, Protestant and Catholic, thought that their opposite numbers were turning people into candidates for hell. As a result, they slaughtered one third of the population of Europe. As a result, these European countries, still predominantly Christian, accepted the separation of church and state, in other words, they put the coercive power of government on the one hand, and religious fervor on the other, in different hands.




Whether Muslims can do this or not remains to be seen. The Bible doesn't tell you how to govern, and it was written for people with zero political power. The Qur'an, on the other hand, was written with governance in mind, and it was applied in the first instance by people who ran a state. Whether Islam can exist with a separation of religion and government is the question.

13 comments:

rank sophist said...

A further question is whether or not it's necessary for every country to separate the church from the state. Certainly, some interpretations of Sharia have led to appalling oppression--but so too have the policies of some secular states.

Crude said...

In the early seventeenth century, leaders of Christian countries, Protestant and Catholic, thought that their opposite numbers were turning people into candidates for hell. As a result, they slaughtered one third of the population of Europe. As a result, these European countries, still predominantly Christian, accepted the separation of church and state, in other words, they put the coercive power of government on the one hand, and religious fervor on the other, in different hands.

You know, I hear this crap a lot. And I can understand why you'd say it. But don't you think that secular concerns - you know, desire to control money and power - played a major role in this, on all sides?

When you actually look into the history and details of the wars of that particular time period, I think it's clear that few players were operating from the position of pure 'concern for souls'.

It's a little like the civil war era slavery thing. Yes, we hear that some justified slavery by really, really inventive twisting of biblical teaching. But you can't ignore the fact that in every instance, the people supporting slavery tended to be the ones who benefited from it financially.

IlĂ­on said...

The so-called religious wars of the early seventeenth century had far more to do with dynastic power-plays, primarily of the French monarchy, than with the religious schism of the sixteenth century.

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An ‘Islam’ which abjures the sword is not Islam.

Karl Grant said...

What Rank Sophist said, also several countries in which the majority of population is Muslim have secular constitutions; Turkey and Indonesia springs to mind.

BeingItself said...

Of course they can.

Most Christians manage to ignore most of the bible.

There is no reason Muslims can't learn also to ignore large sections of their own primitive magic book.

rank sophist said...

It's hard to stifle a yawn when BI posts. You'd think that, after all this time, he'd have found a less obvious way to troll. Clearly not.

cl said...

@rank,

Your response suggests BI may be more adept than you think.

B. Prokop said...

I think the real laboratory for testing this question will be Western Europe and the United States. If the increasingly large Islamic population of those countries can be politically assimilated, then the answer is "yes". So far, that seems to be the case for the US - not so much for Europe. But likely the results will vary from state to state.

I'm no fan of Islam, but I live right next to (I believe) the largest mosque in Maryland, and the people who go there are among the nicest you'll find anywhere. I'm optimistic.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

As to the supposedness of Turkish and Indonessian "secularism", do you think at any time Christian ideas can influence law in Turkey or Indonessia?

You live in Lulu land.

As to the so-called "religious wars", Cardinal Richleau financed both sides so that the Germans would be in constant turmoil so France could grow bigger.

That "separation of Church and State" is valid is erroneous! All that does is create a vacuum where Ideology comes in. America is now Marxist and it enforces its ideology across the board from the top on down.

How about Separation of State from Marxism? Not going to happen. The people are decieved that there can be a "separation of Church and state". Religion is/was the soul of the State. It was in all of the Early republics, Sparta and Rome. Religion is one of the guiding spirits of the state. You can't have separation of Church and state. Look at America, Nature abhors a vacuum and so now the American State is entwined with Marxism. You are all fooled if you think you can do this. Plato recognized this fact in his Laws.

Karl Grant said...

Lindsay Wheeler,

As to the supposedness of Turkish and Indonessian "secularism", do you think at any time Christian ideas can influence law in Turkey or Indonessia?

Of course not, both countries are democracies with predominately Muslim populations. A Christian idea has about as much chance of influncing the law there as a Muslim idea has influencing the law in the USA. That is the point of a democracy, majority rules. That still doesn't change the fact that the constitutions of Turkey, Indonesia and the United States are secular.

Look at America, Nature abhors a vacuum and so now the American State is entwined with Marxism.

Say what?

W.LindsayWheeler said...

@Karl, the Separation of Church and State creates a vacuum. If Religion does not fill the spiritual side of the state, then, ideology will. Ideology acts in the place of religion. Religion sets the values and orients the state. If Religion doesn't do that, then Ideology will. And Nature abhors a vacuum. If Religion doesn't set the values, then nature demands something takes its place.

Karl Grant said...

Lindsay Wheeler,

I got that, it's the Marxism comment that I don't get.

physphilmusic said...

What Rank Sophist said, also several countries in which the majority of population is Muslim have secular constitutions; Turkey and Indonesia springs to mind.

I speak as someone who has lived in Indonesia. The constitution is not truly secular; officially it is "theistic", although it does acknowledges the existence of six different religions. While laws are usually made without explicit religious considerations in mind, pressure from Islamists has lately played a strong role in shaping them. For example, there have increasingly been many calls to implement Syariah law for Muslims (that this can be done without infringing on the rights of non-Muslims is questionable). Local laws which attempt to crack down on women dressing in ways deemed too sexually attractive have also been proposed and in some cases passed - mostly because of pressure from more conservative Muslim parties and groups.

There are laws regulating the construction of new religious buildings, which in practice often results in making it extremely difficult for someone to build a new church. Such laws also become a reason for hardline Muslim groups to threaten and close down churches which don't have the right papers. Evangelizing and converting from Islam, though not explicitly banned, can often lead to persecution and imprisonment, again due to pressure from Muslim groups. And worst, nobody is really interested to defend you if your church gets extorted, threatened, forcefully closed down or burned, because even the government doesn't dare to openly defy the growing hardcore Muslim groups.

So while the constitution may not be explicitly Islamic, you can see that there is no real concept of separation of church and state, no real concept of freedom of expression, and a persistent sense of entitlement among Muslims to pressure the government what to do.