When the secretary says, for example, that real democracy means no leadership in the society can impose its ideology or religion on others, that means real democracy requires a secular space in civil society where citizens — minority or not — are free to live indifferently to, or even in contradiction of, the rules and mores of the leadership’s ideology/religion.
Now consider the following statement: “Secularism can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society.”
That is not me or some other jaded “Islamophobe” talking. Nor is it a quote from Osama bin Laden, the Blind Shiekh, or some other notorious
jihadist “violent extremist” who has purportedly “hijacked Islam.” The statement was actually made by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi in a 2010 book he wrote about the need for Islamic societies to resist Western ideas — How the Imported Solutions Disastrously Affected Our Ummah.
Qaradawi, who holds a doctorate in Islamic jurisprudence from storied al-Azhar University, is the most influential Islamic cleric in the world. Put aside, for a moment, his fatwas approving suicide bombings. Despite those and a host of other despicable preachments, Qaradawi actually is fairly “moderate” as some of these scholars go. He is the very voice of mainstream Middle Eastern Islam.
When his book came out, the sheikh published an excerpt of it for the Saudi Gazette entitled: “Why is secularism incompatible with Islam?” Here is the essence of his explanation:
As Islam is a comprehensive system of worship (Ibadah) and legislation (Shari’ah), the acceptance of secularism means abandonment of Shari’ah, a denial of the divine guidance and a rejection of Allah’s injunctions. It is indeed a false claim that Shari’ah is not proper to the requirements of the present age. The acceptance of a legislation formulated by humans means a preference of the humans’ limited knowledge and experiences to the divine guidance: “Say! Do you know better than Allah?” (Qur’an, 2:140) For this reason, the call for secularism among Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam. Its acceptance as a basis for rule in place of Shari’ah is downright apostasy.
As you read that last sentence, bear in mind that Sheikh Qaradawi adheres to the classical interpretation of sharia that prescribes the death penalty for a Muslim who publicly apostatizes from Islam.