Islam and the concept of the secular

Brown, Malcolm D. (2008) Islam and the concept of the secular. Indian Journal of Politics and International Relations, 1 (1). pp. 43-60. ISSN 0973-5011

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For any concept of the secular to exist (including secularisation, secularism, laicism and equivalents in other languages), there must be a distinction between religious and non-religious spheres of life, society, or the world. Durkheim regarded this distinction between the sacred and the profane (as well as religious community) as an essential element in the definition of religion (Durkheim 1995:38,44)but it is also an essential element in the definition of the secular.
If the secular is indistinct from the religious we cannot usefully say that there is such a thing as the secular, nor that there has been a shift from the religious to the secular, nor that there should be such a shift. A further point which may lead us to qualify Durkheim's definition, is that religions do not always separate the sacred and the profane. Consider political theologies, from liberation theology at one end of the spectrum to theocracy at the other, which attempt to subsume the profane under the sacred. It has often been argued that such a subsumption is an essential characteristic of Islam, and the purpose of this paper is to investigate the extent to which this is the case.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: c. Registrar, Mahatma Gandhi University 2008.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Arts - Department of Humanities and International Studies
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2008 11:54
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2014 05:26
Uncontrolled Keywords: Durkheim; religions; Islam; Muslim religion
Fields of Research : 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220403 Islamic Studies
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2203 Philosophy > 220315 Philosophy of Religion
16 Studies in Human Society > 1608 Sociology > 160806 Social Theory
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950406 Religious Traditions (excl. Structures and Rituals)

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