Roundtable Discussion: Rethinking Islam and Secularism

July 20, 2016


Date: Saturday, 30th July 2016
Time: 10.30AM-1.00PM
Venue: Concorde Hotel, Kuala Lumpur


Presenter: Dr Nader Hashemi

Interveners: Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Xifu Naser, Dato’ Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa

Moderator: Dato’ Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa

Opening Speech by Dr Wong Chin Huat, Penang Institute


After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Muslims are grappling with the existing power vacuum while at the same time are forced to face impending internal and global crises. The centralized political power that has for centuries been the Muslim identity has vanished, thus paving the way towards the emergence of politically oriented movements, which aim to reinstate the lost order.

At the same time, we also witnessed the emergence of authoritarian Muslim leaders who imposed political secularism on their respective national institutions, such as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and Jamal Abdul Nasser. This fact, coupled with the trauma experienced by Muslims as a result of colonialism, break-neck industrialization, and series of wars, has made the idea of “secularism” to be seen as “sinister”, “anti-religion”, “atheistic” and many other negative connotations. Things turned to worse when secularism in the Muslim world has always presented as an ideology in direct opposition to Islam and to equate secularism with Europeanization.

This trend dominates the political discourse in the Muslim world until the Arab Spring, which started in Tunisia in 2010, and has taken its own course. To many Muslims, the Arab Spring has given a new hope. It somehow signifies a new beginning, a new hope for a better future to live under civil governments and civil states. Since then, the demand and inquiries over the question of Islam and Secularism was amplified and many, both in Muslim and Non-Muslim countries, began to revisit this old debate again.

This lecture is another addition that debate, and intended to explore more closely the relationship between Islamic political thoughts and the idea of secularism, and how one can learn and benefit from history and the tradition of both the Islamic and the Western world in constructing new normative political theory.


1000-1030:          Registration

1030-1035:          Welcoming speech by Chairperson, Dr Elma Berisha

1035-1050:          Opening speech by Dr Wong Chin Huat

1050-1100:          Speech by Moderator, Dato’ Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa

1100-1130:          Presentation on “Rethinking Islam and Secularism” by Dr Nader Hashemi

1130-1145:          Intervener I: Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad

1145-1200:          Intervener II: Xifu Naser

1200-1215:          Intervener III: Dato’ Dr Mujahid Yusoff Rawa

1215-1300:          Q&A

1300:                     Lunch


Jointly organized by: Islamic Renaissance Front, G25 & Penang Institute