January 30 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

9-BASHIR-MAAN

Rampant atheistic secularism leads to era of hopelessness

By Bashir Maan CBE

In the wake of the brutal attacks in Paris recently, many secularists have used this sad occasion to mount renewed attacks on religion and belief, claiming that belief in God inevitably leads to murder and bloodshed. They have also displayed utter hypocrisy by criticising Pope Francis for comments he made in the wake of the crisis.

In fact, leading Scottish secularists have wilfully misrepresented the Pope and sadly, done nothing to promote the very tolerance and harmony so needed in Western Europe and across the world at this time. The Pope simply said that gratuitous insults may lead to violent reactions. This is demonstrably true as we saw so brutally in Paris recently. His comments however were not a justification for violence or an acceptance of it. Pope Francis has been unequivocal in his condemnation of violence, his recent comments show an understanding of human nature sadly lacking in many politicians and commentators.

The recent assertion by one secular newspaper columnist that ‘we can, we should and I hope will, continue to mock, criticise and ridicule religion’ was both infantile, unhelpful and provocative. It represented the arrogance of the zealot and the certainty of the believer convinced that they are right and determined they should impose their beliefs on everyone else. In this regard it was little different from the brutal arrogance shown by the gunmen in Paris. In their zealotry and certainty they believed, wrongly, that they represented Islam and acted in the interests of all Muslims. They did not. I am a Muslim and I will defend my faith, but I will do so with wise, polite and inoffensive argument and reasoning as my religion advises me to do.

How strange that so many vocal secularists are determined to criticise and ridicule religion as an assertion of their freedom of expression, but when the Pope used his right to freely express an opinion and offer sensible advice, secular commentators are instantly offended. Isn’t this a touch hypocritical?

What we need now is acceptance not arrogance. In my book, The Thistle and the Crescent, on the relationship between Islam and Scotland I wrote ‘there can be no better antidote than information and knowledge’ to the irrational view of ‘all Muslims as potential terrorists.’ The need for information and knowledge is now greater than ever. Yet at a time when deeper understanding of religion and belief is needed, to prevent extremists hijacking religious beliefs and misusing them to justify violence and murder and to allow everyone to appreciate the many blessings which a faith commitment can bring, Scottish secularists raise their voices against any religion in our education system or our public square. Paradoxically, we live in an era when our leading citizens in the fields of politics, civic life and media are almost all religiously illiterate, while the pressing need of our age is religious literacy and a deeper understanding of the teachings of all faiths and a knowledge of how these teachings can be misrepresented and misused.

Secular humanism is a belief system to which a small but vociferous minority of our fellow citizens adhere. We should respect their beliefs, however extreme they may appear, but we do well to remember the bloody legacy of societies, which have abandoned then banned all mention of religion in recent history. From the pagan cult of Nazism to Mao’s China, Stalin’s Soviet Union, Pol Pot’s Cambodia and the Kim dynasty’s North Korea all have banned, ridiculed and criticised religion to the great detriment of their people and at a cost of tens of millions of lives. Without religion every one of these societies became brutal and dehumanised places bereft of hope and without optimism. In every one of these ruthlessly atheistic societies, rampant atheistic secularism led to an era of hopelessness descending. Respect, tolerance and freedom were wiped out.

It is only through understanding, tolerance and education that we will achieve a harmonious society, these are virtues prized by all religions. Religion is not the problem, it offers us a solution. Wherever it has been maligned and excised, religion has always returned as it did in Russia, China and Cambodia. This is because it touches the human heart, it does not subjugate people as so many secular creeds do, it liberates them, for this reason human beings will always seek God.

 

— Bashir Maan is a Pakistani-Scottish politician, businessman, judge, community worker and writer. In 1970, he became the first Muslim to be elected to a representative office in the United Kingdom

 

 

 

 

 

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