Secularism: an In-depth study and the Islamic View of It

I quote

“Because of the historical difficulties Christians have experienced in their dealings with the church, many Christians hold a deep sense of animosity towards the interference of religion in their lives. However, it is important to understand that Westerners have arrived at their present state due to their encounters with their own religious authorities. As such, deductions made from Western historical experience cannot always be applied on a universal basis, especially when considering that Muslim’s material progress went hand in hand with their adherence to religion. Therefore, it should not be thought that Christian society came to these contemporary secularist conclusions through a truly objective process.”[1]


The Common Definition

Secularism is generally the assertion that governmental practices or institutions should exist separately from religion or religious beliefs. Alternatively, it is a principle of promoting secular ideas or values in either public or private settings over religious ways of thought.

In one sense, secularism may assert the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, and freedom from the government imposition of religion upon the people, within a state that is neutral on matters of belief, and gives no state privileges or subsidies to religions.


How Islam Views Secularism

The implied reality of secularist propaganda is the transfer of the rule of law from the Divine Law to that of manmade law. Secularists have a number of fundamentally erroneous reasons as to their validating such a school of thought which will be addressed below God Willing.

Islam views the guidance of other than its own directives to be the delusions of jahiliyyah i.e. of the times of ignorance.

Allah says in His noble book

أَفَحُكْمَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ يَبْغُونَ ۚ وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ مِنَ اللَّهِ حُكْمًا لِقَوْمٍ يُوقِنُونَ

Do they then seek the judgment of (the Days of) ignorance? And who is better in judgment than Allah for a people who have firm Faith.
سورة المائدة  , Al-Maeda, Chapter #5, Verse #50)


In short, Secularism seeks as its objective to remove the right of Allah to rule in legislation of law and to grant that right to man thus giving the right to man the ability to legislate laws for which the Lord of the Universe sent no authority or permission for.

The Nation of Islam from its formal completion in the time of Prophet Muhammad until these current times have unanimously agreed that such an act is

1.       Prohibited

2.       Necessitates polytheism

The classical Islamic jurist of all schools of thought have commented on the apostasy of those who fall into this act of secular views or has faith in it or deems this repugnant school of thought valid for humans.

The Shafi’ee jurist and commentator of the Qur’an states the following about the above verse chapter 5 verse 50

According to the aforementioned verse, Allah, Exalted and Glorified be He, decidedly denounces those who replace His law which enjoins every possible good and precludes all forms of mischief with personal views, whims, and doctrines which were established without a legal precedent from divine legislation. Such was the case of the arabs during jahiliyyah, who used to judge according to delusions and false opinions. Such is also the case of the Tatar who would judge according to laws enunciated by Genghis Khan who composed “al-Yasiq”, a book of legal issues adopted from various Jewish, Christian, and Muslim writings. Some of its rules were formulated in accordance with his personal views and whims. Afterwards, they would give precedence to such regulations over the Ever Glorious Qur’an and the Sunna of the prophet. Thus, whoever applies such legislation is deemed a kaafir (disbeliever) and should be fought until he returns to Allah’s Divine Law”


The Hanbali Jurist and reviver of Islam Muhammad ibn Aibdul-Wahhab defines what does the word “taghoot” mean and entail

Know, may Allaah have mercy on you, that the first thing Allaah obligated on the Son of Adam is to reject the Taaghoot and believe in Allaah. The proof for this is Allaah’s saying: “And We have indeed sent to every nation a messenger (saying to his people): ‘Worship Allaah alone and avoid the Taaghoot (false deities).” [Surah An-Nahl: 36]


Taghoot linguistically refer to is a false entity that is worshiped

He goes on to define the characteristics of those who fall into the attribute of a taghoot (false god). One of the explanations he expounds upon is the following

The word Taaghoot is general. So everything that is worshipped besides Allaah, while being pleased with this worship – whether it is something worshipped, someone followed, or someone obeyed in the absence of obedience to Allaah and His Messenger, then that is considered Taaghoot. The Tawaagheet (pl. of Taaghoot) are many, but their heads are five:

The First: The Devil who calls the people to worship other than Allaah. The proof for this is Allaah’s saying: “Did I not command you O children of Aadam, that you should not worship the Devil. Verily, he is a plain enemy to you.” [Surah YaaSeen: 60]

The Second: The tyrannical and oppressive ruler who changes Allaah’s rulings. The proof for this is Allaah’s saying: “Have you not seen those (hypocrites) who claim to believe in that which has been revealed to you, and that which was revealed before you, and they wish to go for judgement (in their disputes) to the Taaghoot, when they have been ordered to reject them? But the Devil wishes to lead them far astray.” [Surah An-Nisaa: 60]

The Third: The one who judges by other than what Allaah has revealed, and the proof for this is Allaah’s saying: “And whoever does not judge by what Allaah has revealed, then they are the disbelievers.” [Surah Al-Maa’idah: 44]

The Fourth: The one who claims to have knowledge of the Unseen, apart from Allaah. The proof for this is Allaah’s saying: “He alone is the All-Knower of the Unseen, and He does not disclose His Unseen matters to anyone.” [Surah Al-Jinn: 26-27] And He says: “And with Him lie the keys to the Unseen, no one knows them but He. And He knows whatever there is in the land and in the sea; not a leaf falls except that He knows about it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth, nor anything fresh or dry, but that it is written in a Clear Record.” [Surah Al-Ana’aam: 59]

The Fifth: The one who is worshipped apart from Allaah, while being pleased with being worshipped. The proof for this is Allaah’s saying: “And whoever amongst them says: ‘Verily, I am a God besides Him (Allaah)’, then this person’s recompense will be the Hellfire. That is the way we recompense the wrongdoers.” [Surah Al-Anbiyaa: 29]



The second category of false deities is basically the unfortunate end of the secularists. They are those whom Allah described as

“Have you not seen those (hypocrites) who claim to believe in that which has been revealed to you, and that which was revealed before you, and they wish to go for judgment (in their disputes) to the Taaghoot, when they have been ordered to reject them? But the Devil wishes to lead them far astray.” [Surah An-Nisaa: 60]


The secularist in the Muslim world are those who openly pray and do some acts while at the same time harbor beliefs about their religion that nullify their testimony of faith that they originally concede to believe in. Thus Allah renders such people as hypocrites and affirms that their claim to be Muslim is an empty claim. Allah in this verse is making absolutely clear that it is impossible for a person who has faith in Him and wishes to abide by the mode of life that the Lawgiver found exemplary for him to decide to attain the decisions of those who disbelieve in Him and would resort to the judgment of the whims and desires of people over the ruling of His Lord.

It is for this reason that the Scholars of Islam have unanimously agreed and testified to the apostasy of anyone who advocates or believes in the premise of secularism. Secularism is outright apostasy from Islam and is antithetical to Islam and its objective.

the following is a fatwa of Abdul-Aziz ar-Raajihee on the topic in specific with secular law

Shaykh Abdul-Azeez Ar-Raajihee was asked:

“This person asks about the Sharee’ah ruling concerning the ruler who rules by the French secular laws alongside the knowledge that he claims Islaam, prayers, fasts and makes hajj. So what is to be said about him?

The Answer:

When he believes in [their] permissibility (i’taqada al-jawaaz), when he believes that judgement by the French [secular] laws is permissible, then he is a kaafir. When he believes that it is permissible for him [to do that].

As for when he does not believe this, or he has a doubt (shubhah), then it is necessary for the proof to be established against him.

And some of the people of knowledge have held that when he alters the religion (ghayyara ad-deen) in all of the affairs of the state, then he is a kaafir, because he has changed (baddala) the religion, and al-Haafidh Ibn Katheer (rahimahullaah) has gone to this [view] in his tafseer, and also Shaykh Muhammad bin Ibraaheem (rahimahullaah) in his treatise “Tahkeem ul-Qawaaneen”. So when he changes the religion, the whole of it, from head to heel (i.e. top to bottom), in all of the affairs of the state, in everything – not in part of it – then he is a kaafir, because he has altered the religion.

And then some others have said that it is necessary for the proof to be established against him, for he could be ignorant, or have some doubt (shubhah). Our respected Shaykh, Abdul-Azeez Bin Baaz (may Allaah’s mercy upon him), chose this view.”


Statements of the orthodox Sunni scholars regarding the matter of secularism

قال الشيخ مصطفي صبري (شيخ الإسلام في الدولة العثمانية) رحمه )
الله :
فصلالدين عن الدولة : ارتداد عن الإسلام من الحكومة أولاً ، ومن الأمة ثانية،
إن لميكن ارتداد الداخلين في حوزة تلك الحكومة باعتبارهم أفراداً ، فباعتبارهم
جماعة، وهو أقصر طريق إلي الكفر من ارتداد الأفراد ، بل إنه يتضمن ارتداد
. (
الأفرادأيضا ، لقبولهم الطاعة لتلك الحكومة المرتدة

 Sh Mustafa Sabri the Shaykh al-Islam of the Uthmani Caliphate explicitly states, ‘To separate the religion from the state is apostasy from Islam, of which the government is guilty




قال الشيخ حمد بن علي بن عتيق النجدي رحمه الله : )
قال اللهتعالي : (أَفَحُكْمَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ يَبْغُونَ وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ مِنَ اللّهِحُكْماً لِّقَوْمٍ
يُوقِنُونَ) (المائدة : ٥٠ قلت : ومثل هؤلاء ما وقع فيهعامة البوادي ومن شابههم من تحكيم عادات آبائهم
وما وضعه أوائلهم من الموضوعاتالملعونة التي يسمونها شرع الرفاقة ، يقدمونها
علي آتاب الله وسنة رسوله ومن فعلذلك فإنه آافر يجب قتاله حتي يرجع إلي حكم
. (
الله ورسوله ( ١

Shaykh Hamad bin ‘Ali bin ‘Atiq al-Najdi comments on the verse saying that many of the Bedouin tribes refer to their own tribal laws instead of Allah’s laws, and that whoever does so is a kafir, and it is wajib to fight him until he submits to Allah’s laws.

العلمانية :
هذه اللفظة : مصدر صناعي ، وكقولهم : علماني ، روحاني ، ونحوهما ،وهو مولد معناه : (( اللادينية )) ويعني : (( فصل الدين عن الدولة )) وقيام الدولةفي الحكم والإدارة والسياسة على غير الدين . وغايته : فصل الدين عن الحياة ، وهيغايةٌ إلحادية فهو مصطلح فاسد لغةً ومعنىً . وفيه تلبيس ، وتضليل ، إذْ يجعل هؤلاءالمنافقين ، الملحدين – العلمانيين – يخبون ويضعون ، ويديرون الأُمة ، وهم منافقون، كافرون ؛ لرفضهم الإسلام وتحكيمه في الحياة ، فلنستعمل الألفاظ التي يستحقونهامما علق عليه الحكم الشرعي في الكتاب والسنة : (( كفار )) ، و(( منافقون )) ، (( مرتدون )) وعلى أفعالهم الإلحادية : (( كفر )) . (( إلحاد )) . (( نفاق )) وهكذا ،لكن حذار حذار أن نرتب الحكم ، أو نطق اللفظ إلا بعد توفر أسبابه شرعاً

Alaamah Bakr Abu Zayd Secularists are kuffar and munafiqun for rejecting Islam and its laws. We should use the words they deserve to be described with such as kuffar, munafiqun and murtaddun…

Shaikh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez Ibn ‘Abdullaah Ibn Baaz said:
“There is no faith for the one who believes the laws of the people and their opinions are superior to the Hukm of Allah and His Messenger or that they are equal to it or that they resemble it or who leaves it or replaces it with fabricated laws and institutions invented by people, even if he believes that the laws of Allah are more encompassing and more just.” – “Risalaat Wujoob Tah’keem Sharee’at Allaah’ Pg. 39, which follows the “Risalaat Tah’keem Al-Qawaneen” Published by “Daar Al-Muslim”

Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen said:
“The first type is when the Hukm of Allah is removed and replaced with another Taghutee Hukm (the ruling of a false lord, diety), so that the Hukm of the Sharee’ah is eliminated between the people and he puts in its place another Hukm from the fabrication of the humans and they remove the laws of the Sharee’ah concerning the Mu’amilah (i. e. the general actions between people) and they put in its place fabricated laws and this, without doubt, is Istib’daal (i. e. replacement) of the Sharee’ah of Allaah subhaanahuu wa-ta’ala, with other than it. And this is Kufr which removes one from the Milla because this person put himself at the level of the Creator because he shara’a (legislated) for the slaves of Allah that which Allah ta’ala did not give permission for and that is Shirk in His, ta’ala’s saying: “Or have they partners with Allah (false gods), who have instituted for them a religion, which Allah has not allowed?” (Ash-Shu’ara, 21) – “Fiqh Al-‘ Eebaadaat”, #60

Imaam Muhammad Naasiruddin Al-Albaanee:
Who said, in one of his earlier cassette recorded lessons, wherein he is describing an argument he had with someone about the Takfeer of Mustafah Ataturk, the secularist who converted the constitution of Turkey from the Hanafee code Sharee’ah, to the man-made laws. So Shaykh Al-Albaanee said:

“I made clear to him (i. e. his opponent) that the Muslims did not make Takfeer to Ataturk who was Muslim. No. (They did so) when he freed himself from Islaam when he implicated upon the Muslims an institution other than the institution of Islaam. And from that was the example of his equalizing between the inheritance of the male and the female. But Allaah says according to us, ‘And for the male is the share of two females. ‘ And then he obligated upon the Turkish masses, the Qobah (i. e. a Turkish-style hat).”
– “Fataawa Ash-Shaykh al-Albaanee wa-Maqara’netihah bi’Fatawaa Al-‘ Ulaama”, Pg. 263 from his cassette #171.]

Shaikh Mahmood Shaakir said:
So their question wasn’t the ‘Eebadeeyah’s question to Abee Majliz about the Tafseer of this Ayaah – about that which the Mub’tadah of our time agree with concerning the judgement in money andblood with a law that opposes the Sharee’ah of the people of Islaam and not concerning implicating a law upon the people of Islaam and forcing them to take the judgement to other than the rule of Allaah in His Book and upon the tongue of His Prophet. So this action is turning away from the Hukm of Allaah and from His Deen and putting the laws of the Kuffar above the law of Allaah, subhaanahuu wa-ta’ala and this is Kufr. No one from the people of the Qiblah with their difference, doubts the Kufr of the one who says or calls to this.” – From his commentary of At-Tabaree (” Tafseer At-Tabaree” Vol. 10/ 348)

Alaamah al-Imaam Muhammad Al-Ameen Ash-Shanqeetee said:
“And with these Heavenly texts that we have mentioned, it becomes quite clear that the ones who follow the fabricated laws, which the Shaytaan has legislated upon the tongues of his ‘Auliya and which oppose that which Allaah, jala-wa’ala has legislated upon the tongues of His Messengers, peace be upon them, that no one doubts their Kufr and their Shirk except him who Allaah has removed his sight and has blinded them to the light of the revelation as they are!”
– “Adhwaa Al-Bayaan”, Vol. 4/ 82-85

Shaikh ‘Umar al-Ashqar said:
And from this explanation it becomes clear to us that there are two types of people who have fallen into Kufr about which there is no doubt. The first, the ones who legislate that which Allaah did not reveal, and those are the ones who fabricate the laws that oppose the legislation of Allaah they implicate it upon the people and the Ijmaa’ is upon their Kufr without doubt.” – “Al-Sharee’ah Al-Eelaheeyah”, Pg. 179

‘al-Imaam al-Alaamah Muhammad Ibn Ibraaheem Aal-Ash-Shaykh said:
“… The fifth, and it is the greatest and the most encompassing and the clearest opposition of the Sharee’ah and stubbornness in the face of its laws and insulting to Allaah and His Messenger and opposing the courts of the Sharee’ah on their roots and branches and their types and their appearances and judgements and implementations the references and their applications. So just like the courts of the Sharee’ah there are references, all of them returning back to the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger like that, these courts have references, which are laws that are assembled from many legislations and laws like the laws of France and America and England and other laws and from the Metha’haab of some of the innovators who claim to be under the Sharee’ah.

And these courts are now fully operational in the settlements of Islaam, people entering them one after another, their rulers judge upon them with what opposes the Sunnah and the Book with the rules of that law and they impose that on them and approve it for them. So what Kufr is there beyond this Kufr and what nullification of the Shahaadah of Muhammadar Rasool-Allaah is there beyond this nullification?!
– “Tah’keem Al-Qawaneen”

Shaikh ‘Abdur-Razzaaq al-‘Afeefee said:
“Thirdly: The one who is attributed to Islaam and knows its laws and then fabricates for the people, laws and makes them an institution for them to conduct themselves by and to take their judgements to and he knows that it opposes the laws of Islaam. Then he is a Kaafir out of the Milla of Islaam. And like that is the Hukm concerning the one who orders a committee or committees to be formed for that and the one orders the people to take their judgements to these institutions or laws or makes them take the judgements to them, while he knows that they oppose the Sharee’ah of Islaam. And like that is the one who judges with it and implicates it upon the matters and the one who obeys them in these judgements out of his own choice, while he knows that it opposes Islaam. So all of these are partners in their turning away from the Hukm of Allaah.”
– “Shubu’haat Howl As-Sunnah Wa-Risalaat Al-Hukm bi’Ghayr ma’Anzaal-Allaah”, Pg. 64

Imaam Ahmad Shaakir said:
“The matter in these fabricated laws is clear with the clearness of the sun. It is clear Kufr and there is nothing hidden about it and there is no excuse for anyone who attributes themselves to Islaam, whoever they may be, to act according to it or to submit to it or to approve of it. So each person should beware and every person is responsible for himself. So the ‘Ulaama should make the truth clear and tell what they have been ordered to tell without concealing anything.”
– “Umdaat At-Tafseer Mukhtaasir Tafseer Ibn Katheer of Ahmad Shaakir”, Vol. 4/ 173-174


Common Misnomers of Secular Advocates

Misnomer 1: Proponents of secularism have long argued that the general rise of secularism in all the senses enumerated above, and corresponding general decline of religion in secular states, is the inevitable result of the Age of Enlightenment, as people turn towards science and rationalism and away from religion and superstition


[1] Sacred Freedom, p.75 by Haneef Oliver