Kenitra - Fundamental to the true understanding of civil liberties and the advancement of human rights in Morocco’s modern society is a systematic and a purely academic thinking of Secularism; inclusive of its history, growth and influence of its major figures both in the West and the East, as well as its problematic. We cannot accept, either reasonably or pragmatically, the current trend in both the reading of Secularism and the manifestation of its ideas. What is being exposed in recent public debates, the subject of same-sex rights and ethics, is totally disfigured, disoriented and misleading – definitely not a priority.
Kenitra – Fundamental to the true understanding of civil liberties and the advancement of human rights in Morocco’s modern society is a systematic and a purely academic thinking of Secularism; inclusive of its history, growth and influence of its major figures both in the West and the East, as well as its problematic. We cannot accept, either reasonably or pragmatically, the current trend in both the reading of Secularism and the manifestation of its ideas. What is being exposed in recent public debates, the subject of same-sex rights and ethics, is totally disfigured, disoriented and misleading – definitely not a priority.
Beginning with a major observation, we need to recall that the secular path in the West has been built in different stages and gained its strength and influence in modern Europe and America. This was achieved through a mature, comprehensive and lengthy intellectual project, and a significant struggle with religious, political and cultural dominance.
Nowadays, we seldom see Europeans and Americans advocating serious debate on homosexuality and same-sex rights. How can we in Morocco approach these challenging subjects while professing inconclusive and deficient thoughts? What explains this urgency?
What is clear and real is the fact that we barely begin to sense the concept of freedom; to learn its value, objectives and goals. We should act carefully so our defense of freedom and civil liberties is manifested as a cultural and intellectual project amidst a democratic context. Any attempt to defend these ideals without a strong foundation will lead us to a collapse in society with far more losses, chaos and greater tragedies.
We criticize the inability of Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Syria and Sudan in overcoming the psychological effects of their troubled histories, their slow progress, and compromising unity, which has turned their Arab Spring into a dry summer. The promising slogans of prosperity are now shattered on the streets. The songs of liberation are now horrific screams of wounded mothers and kids. And their dreams of freedom and social justice have gradually turned into a nightmare. This reality is frustrating and horrible enough to raise every possible act and gesture of attention.
The current engagement of some so-called modernists in a series of clashes of ignorance is not promising and conceptually radical. Their exclusive rhetoric and unjustified attacks on Islam allow false assumptions on both the legitimacy and authenticity of their secular thought. Given by these unsuccessful engagements, it is commonly seen as a ‘war on religion’.
The Arab critic and cultural theorist Mohammad R. Salama wrote in his book, Modernity and the Politics of Exclusion since Ibn Khaldun: “If there is no absolute code of knowledge or criterion for validity, then struggles or disputes over Islam’s religiosity and meaning will continue to emerge,” and surely will continue to negatively affect every possible form of both sociocultural and sociopolitical stability and reform.
A second major observation is that Western culture, which has been cultivated throughout secular discourse and Philosophy, is barely a human experience. It is merely a human stage, preceded by the experiences of many variables and will surely be followed by many other trends in the future. New schools of thought have also surfaced, those of Post-Modernism and New-Modernism, wherein many of the ideas nurtured and delivered in Modernism are being re-investigated. There is no absoluteness in thought!
Dr. Mohamed Sheikh, a Moroccan intellectual Modernist and a Professor of Philosophy wrote in his study of Moroccan Contemporary Intellectuality: “This total and complete submission to the ideas and thoughts of 18th Century Europe may tragically turn against the objectives of Enlightenment; and Modernism, may turn into a new form of tradition. This is due to the fact that the Age of Enlightenment in Europe is merely a historical experience, a historic turning point and a new way of reason, which does not reflect the faculty of reason, its qualities or potentials in entirety.” He continued, “Any attempt to face it negatively, to read it as the only form of reasoning is doomed to cultural loss, failure and submission to a new form of extremism”.
Secularism has never been an exclusionary project, but a philosophy of systematic and rational containment. Historically, it has invested in the study of heritage and its exposure in literature and art. It has also studied the rhetoric and structure of theocracy in advocating alternative discourses. Mostly relying on its inclusive language, academic authenticity and the nobleness of its goals and objectives, Secularism has influenced culture, politics and economics. Therefore, we as Moroccans pose a challenge: How can we model this unique experience? Evidently, we are doubtful and skeptical of our preferences; modernity vs tradition, rationalism vs spirituality, theocracy vs civil morality. What matters most during these difficult times is the awareness of this horrifying trap by resisting its seductive and divisive discourse. We cannot submit to “the ready-made ideological assumptions”.
Islam is a penetrative force in Moroccan society and so are its values, ideas and practices. Falling prey to the terminologies, whether Islam is suitable or not, useful or superfluous, is destructive and inharmonious. Intellectually, Dr. Mohamed Abed Al-Jabri, thinks that our only access to Modernism “depends on our ability to restore the critical Philosophy of Ibn Hazm, the Rationalism of Ibn Rushed, the Fundamentalism of Shatby, and the Historiography of Ibn Khaldun to the extent that we restore the different cultural manifestations of modern Europe”. As well as to reinstate the works of Aristotle, Nietzsche, Marx and others, in light of an equal intellectual acquaintance with our own heritage.
The true battlefield of Secular Modernism is located somewhere in the middle of Enlightenment and Freethinking. Secularism should fight the war against poverty, marginalization, and social injustice; not by insulting the authenticity of religion, spirituality or the historical legitimacy of religion.
Edited by Karla Dieseldorff. Photo by Chaymaa Rhou
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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