by Najeb Nsier
translated by me (Tareq Neman)
The cultural Arab societies are facing a big agnostic dilemma that stands in the way of all kinds of solutions for the problems that have been inherited from the colonists. The establishment of the state is a reality which we can’t ignore and we can’t comprehend by analyzing the cultural character of each society; this cultural society has nothing to do with developing and organizing society according to modern techniques and theories. Modern techniques need a special mentality to be dealt with.
It could be that misunderstanding is the rule that has controlled the transmission of information and imposed many kinds of ideological filters on it. This misunderstanding restrains the knowledge production process by preventing classical culture to push forth a body of knowledge that resonates with modern techniques by interacting with the concepts produced by the mind. The most famous concept that has been attacked by such misunderstanding, leading some people to refuse it and fight it in a very impulsive way, is secularism. There is a widely shared refusal, not of the secular itself but of all its consequences and even for considering it, although it wouldn’t constitute any ideological shifts in an individual’s private life or identity.
The accumulation of refusing secularism will cause a defection in social culture, because the propaganda will make it a virtual enemy and fight it in imaginary and random battles, by imagining that there are secular enemies that must be fought by good friends; their only duty is to fight the secularists and defeat them. This propaganda is not compatible with the simplest principles of the reason. There is nothing called secular people; secularism is an idea or concept, or let us say: an environment that could be embraced by people who want to execute a specific ideological political schedule. This environment –if we can say- is needed by the religious people more than the communist ones, because it offers all people to live and breathe within an atmosphere of law. It confronts everybody with his freedom and his responsibilities and requires freedom for the production of knowledge.
Very few know that secularism is just an environment, though all-encompassing, and is a means rather than a strategic end. Very few know that secularism is an expression that relates to worldly matters, not to matters of science. The majority are using an ideological filter which works in an exclusionary manner to prevent access to neutral information. This filter leads to ignorance; the refusal to hear anything about abstract concepts as secularism, which has nothing to do with faith and atheism. This ignorance creates judicial privileging that is closer to racism than to the public interest.
This ignorance is not restraining secularism only, but restrains many social concepts that relate to the state and democracy. We need to explain to those who apply such blind attitudes that secularism is a necessity for a productive social life and that we consider productivity as a basic condition for the existence of social life in general. This existence of a social life needs all segments of community to reach peaceful compatibility as a social contract that guarantees the rights and duties for everybody under the umbrella of the law.
There is nothing such as a secular person and a non-secular person in any society. Secularism is not a belief everyone should adopt; there are secular environments that accept everybody and give them equal rights. And there are non-secular environments which give the people different rights according to their ideologies and ethnicities in order to prove that the concept of the state is limited.
Human experiences all over the world have proved repeatedly that secularism is the correct path to follow and that it is useless to try to build a state that lives in today’s world and does not have the necessary tools and principles to organize human rights and assure peaceful living according to a basic social contract that produces the free citizens required for the building and production process and guaranteeing the continuity of the society.
It is time to clean this misunderstanding and to get to know this tool –secularism- well as it is now one of the axioms of life.