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Friday, December 03, 2004

MEMRI::Kuwaiti Progressive Scholar: 'All the Good is in Secular Thought, All the Evil in Religious Thought'

The Kuwaiti progressive scholar Ahmad Al-Baghdadi, a political science lecturer at Kuwait University, recently published several articles in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, denouncing religious thought and praising secularism. The following are excerpts from the articles:

'Muslims Have no Future as Long as They are Subjected to Religious Thought'

In an article titled 'Secularism and Life,' Al-Baghdadi claimed that only a society free of religion could make progress and develop, arguing that Islamic religious thought prevents progress and development:

"… Secularism as a [world] view and as a way of life was not formed in a vacuum, but is the outcome of the painful life experience of human beings which has continued for close to a millennium and in the course of which the religious thought of the Church, devised by the religious clergy, was abolished… During this experience, Western man lived in intellectual darkness and [endured] devastating wars in a period called 'the Dark Middle Ages.'

"For the person educated in sciences, industry, finances, politics, and culture there was only one solution, which constitutes a refuge for the poor societies. That [solution] is: distancing the man of the cloth from life… From that moment on, the Western world became the only world to develop, progress, and flourish in all spheres of life.

"In order [to avoid] being accused of subjectivity against the religious way of thought, let us present examples from the reality of life in the Muslim and Arab countries:

"1. Religious thought is the only way of thought nowadays that refuses to accept the 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights' on religious grounds, and this constitutes an obstacle to [the realization of] these rights in the Islamic countries, not only in the matter of inheritance, but also in matters such as equality, freedom of thought, and freedom of speech.

"2. Islamic religious thought is the only way of thought nowadays to persist in [accusations] of ridda [apostasy]… Unfortunately, this persistence [leads to] the killing of human beings, even without trial.

"3. Religious thought objects to freedom of thought and freedom of speech when religion is criticized. Moreover, religious thought reveres things that religion itself does not instruct [us] to revere. Thus, for example, regarding [the immunity from criticism of] the Prophet's companions, who are not considered part of the principles of religion or of the roots of belief. Religious thought does not distinguish between religion and its believers.

"4. Religious thought is still anti-woman even if the religious clerics claim otherwise.

"5. Religious thought is opposed to human health in matters of treatment and medicine. The prohibition of including alcohol in most medicines leads to their reduced effectiveness… [Moreover,] the Muslim doctor nowadays does not dare to instruct a patient not to fast [during the month of Ramadhan], and the hospitals therefore become full of patients who fasted.

"6. Religious thought supports political tyranny, because it opposes democracy and the constitution. [For example,] in Kuwait [some] strive to destroy the constitution and the constitutional state, and in Saudi Arabia there is complete opposition to democracy.

"7. If we were to imagine that an [Arab] regime adopted a certain religious school of thought, what could happen to the other schools of thought?

"8. Religious thought opposes the Other, accuses him of heresy, and objects to living by his side. Proof of this are the supplications and appeals [to Allah] that we hear in the mosques to destroy all non-Muslims and harm them, rather than requesting guidance for them on the straight path, [as would have occurred] had there been an ounce of human tolerance.

"9. Religious thought is the main reason for the production of terror, because of the negative interpretations of the [Quranic] verses regarding Jihad.

"10. Religious thought opposes any kind of creativity and art…

"The West did not make progress until it became free of this way of thinking. This is the only solution facing the Muslims. They have no future as long as they are subjected to religious thought." [1]

'Muslim Countries cannot Adopt Secularism because its Principles Contradict Tyranny, Oppression, Backwardness, and Anarchy'

In an article published two days later in Al-Siyassa, titled 'The Good in Secularism and the Bad in You,' Al-Baghdadi explained the differences between secular and Islamic countries:

"There is no Islamic country in which a Christian or a Jew could reveal a cross or a skullcap, and get away with it peacefully. In addition, members of [other] human religions, like Buddhism and Hinduism, are prohibited from conducting their ceremonies in public, even with governmental approval, without people harming them, as happened at the Hindu place of worship in Kuwait. In contrast to this religious persecution [in Islamic countries,] of which the [Islamic] religious stream boasts, there is no secular country that prohibits the construction of mosques, even in the event that the government does not finance them. Moreover, there is no secular country that prevents the Muslim from praying in public…

"There is no church in the secular Christian world in which a priest stands and curses anyone who disagrees with his religion or prays for trouble and disaster to befall them, as do the preachers in our Friday sermons. [Moreover,] our religious thought has no parallel to the message recently pronounced by the present Pope regarding the importance of peace for all. Contrary to the ease with which a mosque is built in secular Europe and America, the construction of a church [in a Moslem country] is carried out only with the approval of the country's president, [and even then] it is rare.

"There is no non-Muslim religious institute that teaches its students to hate the Other, claiming that he is considered an infidel, doomed to hell, regardless of whether he was of any use to mankind. This hatred is present in the curricula of the Islamic religion.

"Throughout [Muslim] history there has not been one Muslim judge who strived to attain justice for a non-Muslim who was wronged, whereas the U.S. and Europe have saved many peoples from oppression, while sacrificing human life and property in order to save other [peoples.] [In this context] one cannot but note the benevolence of the secular toward the Kuwaitis when they decided to liberate Kuwait and reinstate the honor of its government and its people.

"In the secular world the author, the intellectual, and the journalist are not sent to jail for their opinions – with the exception of the European laws concerning the denial of the Holocaust that annihilated the Jews of Europe, because this is a fact from which the European conscience still suffers. [Even in such a case, the Holocaust denier] is not imprisoned, but is merely fined. They do not consider him a murtadd [apostate], and do not seek his death, try to assassinate him, harm his livelihood, or separate him from his wife and children. In contrast, the extremist Muslims and the Islamic clerics often adopt ideological terror, issuing calls for killing, and accusations of ridda [apostasy]…

"Those in the religious stream cannot avoid admitting that all the good is in the secular thought, and all the evil is in the religious thought, for they take advantage of religion in order to harm not only people but religion itself, to the point that Muslims no longer respect their religion, and they start to exploit it for financial gain by selling Islamic books and drink.

"Do you know why Allah helps the secular country? Because it is just. Why doesn't He help countries that build mosques every day? Because these countries are oppressive…

"The Muslim countries cannot adopt secularism for a simple reason: the principles of secularism contradict the outlook of these countries, which are based on tyranny, oppression, aggression, backwardness, and anarchy. Moreover, these countries exploit religious thought in order to impose their legitimacy. Thus you find that they are the most avid supporters of the religious groups, knowing that these groups include those who support terrorism and harm society. For the religious groups do not support rights and justice as much as they support oppression and tyranny, whereas secularism [acts] in the opposite manner." [2]

[1] Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), November 14, 2004.

[2] Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), November 16-17, 2004.