Monday, June 21, 2010

Modernism, Secularism, Evolution & Culture

Dr. Ejaz Akram
[Excerpts from Baytunur-Iqbal Academy Pakistan Islam Seminar on Religion & Culture]

The West is missionary about spreading secularism in the world. They lay the blame on religion when religious people cause violence while condoning the secular values when non-religious people cause violence. On the one hand they speak of cultural relativity and on the other they practice cultural absolutism around the world. Modern cultures have a special proclivity towards war. The modern period between 1740 to the present as a cultural period of industrialism related to total war.

The story of origin of modernism, which is built on the denial of religion and on the cadaver of European Christianity, looks at human beings from the point of view of the theory of evolution. 

 Modern philosophical argues that:

“Culture may be thought of as a causal agent that affects evolutionary process by uniquely human means. For it permits the self-conscious evaluation of human possibilities in the light of a system of values that reflect prevailing ideals about what human life ought to be. Culture is thus an indispensable device for increasing human control over the direction in which our species changes”.

Since the theory of evolution denies a sacred and Divine origin of the world, its view of culture is purely terrestrial which does not take into account transcendental realities. If one denies the absolute one stays forever trapped in relativism.

It is ironic to note that the cultures of the modern world and their short history can be quite adequately characterized by political agitation, a condition of anger and restlessness, while the state of terror and violence push the world toward more turbulence. Modern political culture, modern economics and their concomitant social systems have produced anything but peace. Traditional cultures by contrast, also witnessed war and strife, after all these things are a predicament of terrestrial existence, but the frequency and intensity of war and insecurity was much less than that of the modern world as documented by many scholars of war.

The secular order that came in full force in the cold war period on both sides of the iron curtain, put humanity on a path where God became unfashionable, along with the importance of God’s fear, love and knowledge. One who doesn’t fear God can do anything. If we kill God, everything becomes possible. Western imperialism and colonialism were nothing but an outward projection of an inward mindset where men swapped sacred principles of human living for profane and secular ones.

To resuscitate the culture of peace, one must understand and accept the importance of the culture of God. God is Peace. One of the 99 beautiful Names of God (al-Asma’ al-Hasna) is al-Salaam, which means peace. The more of God one has in one’s life, the more peaceful one is, and one ‘gives off’ or radiates more peace and tranquility to others around oneself. By having more of God in oneself, we mean that one follows the injunctions and exhortations of the sacred texts of the revealed religions in an attempt to develop fear, love and knowledge of God, for one who has the fear, love and knowledge of God can in principle be only peaceful.

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Dr. Ejaz Akram is an Associate Professor at Lahore University of Management Sciences Department of Humanities and Social Sciences.  He holds a Ph.D. in World Politics from the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. He also holds two M.A. degrees; Master of Arts in Comparative & Regional Studies (Middle East & South Asia) from the School of International Service at American University in Washington D.C., and Master of Arts in International Relations from CUA, Washington, D.C.     

His research involves the political philosophies of the Abrahamic and Eastern religious traditions and the interface of religion and politics in international relations. Dr. Ejaz Akram is writing "Traditional Political Philosophy of Islam: Remedy for Disaster Times" and publishing Political Philosophy of Iqbal. 

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