Tnghir, Morocco - Through its history, Morocco has been a refuge for different people, cultures, and civilizations. It is a country in which people co-exist, even with colonizers. It is a country in which rare people have learned not to say no to requests from others.
Tnghir, Morocco – Through its history, Morocco has been a refuge for different people, cultures, and civilizations. It is a country in which people co-exist, even with colonizers. It is a country in which rare people have learned not to say no to requests from others.
Moroccans have acquired the principles of belief in diversity, differences, equity, equality and democracy. Still, while receiving others from different countries whether by invasions or trade affairs, Moroccans have been exposed to their ideological, religious and cultural thoughts and attitudes. It is unusual that they refuse what is introduced to them. Today, however, Morocco has become a resort for many ideological aspects that come, somehow, from either the East or the West. Things that are often from the East address the Moroccan’s heart, and things that are from the West often address the Moroccan’s mind.
From Western countries, Morocco nowadays imports materials and technological devices as well as cognitive thoughts such as philosophical and political attitudes and approaches. For the material imports, no Moroccan can deny the fact that they are useful and beneficial for our country, and it is not a shame to learn from western countries as long as they are somehow more developed and advanced. But, on the scale of thoughts and experiences, not all Moroccans see that it’s a good and a wise choice to learn from them, or to go through the traces of their experiences in such domains. It is true, and valuable to have a critical mind, and not to consume blindly others’ thoughts and experiences. But sometimes it’s worth going through someone’s experiences so as not to fall prey to the same mistakes he or she did, and not to waste time and, maybe, money.
The view that secularism and the Moroccan society are a set of thoughts, principles, attitudes, and experiences is still not discussed seriously in Morocco. The role of secularism among the Moroccan society is characterized by several differences and diversities under a unified cultural principle. Furthermore, I personally see that secularism is launched from the western countries as I will illustrate, but I underline that secularism, as behaviors and practices, has been already practiced in the Moroccan society before the appearance of modern term “secularism” as well.
Originally and historically, secularism is a doctrine that goes back to many different sources according to different thinkers. For instance, early secular ideas involving the separation of philosophy and religion can be traced back to Ibnu Rochd, Averroes. It is worth mentioning that Averroes was fighting on the side of Aristotle against theologians; he saw that there is no conflict between philosophy and religion. However, a lot of people link secularism to the conflict between civic society and the church. Many Christians support a secular state under the proof that the separation has support in biblical teachings, particularly the statement of Jesus in the book of Luke:
Then give To Caesar’s what‘s Caesar’s, and to God what’s God’s.
Secularism, according to some dictionaries, is the view that public education and other matters of civic policy should be conducted without introduction of a religious element. One may understand that it is the exclusion of religion from the daily life aspects and that religion cannot be separated from the management of a society at all. Therefore, a category of people with certain religious ideology and prejudice stand firmly against secular or civic state. On the other hand, other categories of a society stand by civic state for more democracy and respect for individual differences. Penetrating deeply into the definition of secularism, one will not grasp only that it’s the severance between religion and authority, but may also understand that a person, whatever his or her religion, can be secular whenever he or she begins to think freely, rationally, critically, and independently from religion.
It is, up until now, very apparent that secularism is a way that gives room to a society to confess that the individuals are free thinkers – in particular – and humans in general, and not as humans that are associated with function definitions according to their religious backgrounds. If we look at people in a society as Muslims, or Christians, or whatever, we will obliquely classify them into categories from what we subjectively think is good or bad, is better or worse, and is inferior or superior. Unlike, if we look at them as humans with fair minds, there will be much more equalities and objectivities. Secularism is not necessarily against religions as a lot of people try to make others understand, but it allows everyone to be free and consider others who are different, as free individuals who have rights to practice their own religion or any ceremony away from the instructions of such numerous or quantitative power.
Politically, civic state was declared as the norm of Moroccan society in the constitution. But because of some religious understandings of some people, it was nipped in the bud. Coming back to the social context, the Moroccan society is much more secular and civic than the rules, laws, and instructions they are exposed to. Most Moroccans agree that individuals in the society should behave in the way they choose and like unless they hurt someone. “It is none of your business, or it is none of my business,” is a famous and popular expression among Moroccans. For example, if you ask a girl to veil, or not to veil, she may immediately respond to you by “It’s none of your business.” Therefore, from this expression, and many other expressions, Moroccans feel already free, as they want others to be free in their thinking, choices, and behaviors.
In addition, historically, secularism was socially and culturally practiced in a lot of Moroccan small tribes before the Central state. Tribes of the South-East of Morocco were obvious instances of civic societies. They used to run on the civic affairs in secular way.
In those tribes, people organized themselves in a democratic way. They elected people who had political abilities and who were often old people, to govern and manage the internal and external affairs of the tribes. The elected people formed the tribe’s congress or, as they called it, “Jma3t.” The congress was divided into presidents according to some given functions. For example, they had ‘Amghar n Targa,’ the president of Irrigation matters, and ‘Amghar n tirit’ the president of law, and so on. One can notice here apparently that the Imam of the mosque was somehow excluded from the political affairs of the tribe. If it happened that the Imam were invited to ceremonial and tribal meetings, he would not be allowed to discuss neither politically nor socially with them; all what he could do is read the Quran from time to time or give religious speeches.
In addition, Imam has been always independent from the social context to the extent that he must all the time be from a different tribe; so, he had to always be objective, not biased to a race ‘Root’ in the tribe. As a result, the Imam did not have a symbolic power, and the tribe’s Congress or Jma3t could change him whenever they had to. Up to now, I think it is very clear how the religion, which is presented in the person of “the Imam,” and the authority introduced by the “Jma3t” are very separated without creating any paradoxes or problems in the society. Also, people kept always very respectful to the Imams, and kept always being moral people as it is still known.
One of the major critics, if not the only one, that is given to secularism is that it threatens religious status and reputation. Some people believe in the idea that in religion we can find everything we need, and by religion we can manage everything we take charge of. However, that religion is a belief that acquires the truth, the right, and the equity and every precious value. On the other hand authority, which is usually based on political needs sometimes lies, ideologies, deceptions and so on. Isn’t it wise to separate religion from authority so that we can protect religion from any bad value that can result from politics? Isn’t it wise to separate religion and politics so that we can have supper politicians who can take care of the general interests of our country? Isn’t it wise to let Mosques away from civic societies, so that no one will take advantage of religion for private interests? Is not it wise to let mosques only for worshiping and knowledge so that any political discourse, which serves a certain group of people, will not be allowed?
Secularism is a field in which everything whether religions or doctrines can be blend. In a civic society, no one will dictate to people what to do, or to believe in; on the contrary, it will guarantee loyal and fair worshiping for God without the restraints or limits stated by an ideological group of people. Secularism embraces everyone; religion includes only those who believe in it. For example, I’m Muslim, so a Christian will not like me to tell him or her what to do based on Islam, and vice versa. But, if we consider secularism, it will make all of us together. We will tolerate each other, and co-exist in a world of love and peace.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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