"The Future of Sharia Is the Secular State"
Law professor Abdullahi Ahmed An-Naim supports secularism, in which a neutral state makes the laws for all citizens, while leaving enough room for them to lead their lives according to the rules of their own religion.
"We Muslims Have No Church!"
The Sudanese born Abdullah Ahmed An-Na'im teaches law at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Active in the fields of civil, human and international rights, he sees the Islamic Sharia as an important point of reference for him. The Muslim law system, which dates back to the seventh century, must, in his opinion, always be open to being questioned.
I’m rather confused about this man. Granted, I have only two very short articles to base him on so some further inquiry may be warranted.
On the one hand he says, “Human rights and secularism are so important to me because they create a space within which I may protest” and “I believe that religion and the state should be separate, institutionally.” Right on so far, but then…
“There are many questions in which [secularism] cannot interfere. It can handle the basics about how we can live with and maintain respect for one another. But answers to questions on things like abortion or the right to take one's own life must be sought elsewhere [religion]” and “If I am in need of money so that my children can receive religious education, then the state must help me. These are civil rights.”
I’m not getting a really clear picture about what his world would look like. Yes, in a secular world secularism would not “interfere” with topics like abortion or suicide. Everyone would have to right to live and act according to their own beliefs provided they didn’t interfere with or harm others. But that should not include helping to fund institutions that do want to “interfere”. If he believes that “whatever your value system is, it is you, not the Imam who must decide what is relevant and what isn't” what religious education system is it that would be funded? When he states he has, “difficulties with the idea of someone else defining what my religion should mean to me. No one should be given the power of deciding what is right or wrong” what Islamic religious school teaches that?
There is one quote that I can somewhat agree with though:
Every orthodoxy began as heresy. All religions have their roots in heresy. Christianity began as a Jewish heresy; Islam was once a Christian-Jewish heresy. It is in breaking with tradition that we strike the vein of greatest creativity. This is true of all societies. So celebrate heresy!
I don't think he'd go so far as to celebrate my atheist heresy, but than again who knows. I certainly celebrate my heresy.