Why We Cannot Settle for a Secular Society

It is only a fear of God that can prevent cruelty and uphold our humanity.

In a famous 1863 speech, President Lincoln said, “We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace . . . and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”

President Lincoln made this declaration against the backdrop of the Civil War as both sides bled tens of thousands of soldiers. War and terrorism and unbridled crimes rage in the world today. ISIS, Boko Haram, and mutually complicit, resentful alliances between the powers all point to the arrogance of man and his demented ways.

In America, hate crimes, broken homes, alcohol abuse, and violent gun deaths are rampant despite our secular Constitution. China is a world leader in human-rights violations as an anti-theist state. Consistent in all these scenarios is the absence of the role God plays in our lives. In our nation, God is facing expulsion from our lives in preference for absolute secularism. Each nation believes its approach will lead to peace. Yet no nation has found peace, and each engages in horrific human rights violations — whether suicide bombing, torturing children, abducting women, or illegal wars.

To know God is to know each of us has a fundamental responsibility to serve all humanity . . .

Peace is not the mere absence of trouble — it requires the presence of God in our lives. This requires extreme efforts at self-reformation and self-analysis. It requires a fundamental recognition that our God-given responsibility is to serve all humanity. This service requires a wholesale rejection of hypocrisy, intolerance, and extremism in all its forms.

Secular laws alone cannot bring about peace and justice on earth. While secular governance is important, without personal Godliness it is incomplete. Morality cannot be legislated. Secular laws cannot limit the wandering eye of a would-be rapist as he scopes his next victim — instead the burden is placed on women to avoid getting raped. Secular laws cannot limit the greed of the super wealthy as they pound the poor with extraordinary interest rates advancing perpetual poverty and misery. Secular laws cannot hold accountable those who wage illegal wars in which hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians die — instead the burden is placed on the helpless who are left to deal with the emerging terrorist groups.

It is only a fear of God, and recognition of our ultimate responsibility and accountability, that can prevent such heinous acts. To know God is to know each of us has a fundamental responsibility to serve all humanity — and a fundamental obligation to constantly self-reform and self-reflect. This is the purpose of our lives.

It is only a fear of God, and recognition of our ultimate responsibility and accountability, that can prevent such heinous acts.

Godliness enables us to recognize that all human life is equal. It elevates us beyond base desires and basic obligations to understand that just because we have a legal right to do something does not mean we have a moral right to do so. Until we recognize that all human life is equal, requiring justice, dignity, equity, and respect for all, there will be no peace.

It is incumbent on all of us — Muslims, non-Muslims, believers, and non-believers — to shed our ambivalence and stop all forms of hypocrisy. The world is too small, our wisdom too limited, our time here too short, to waste any more of it in winning fleeting victories at the expense of others. After all, war does not decide who is right, only who is left.

Leadership matters. We need leaders who lead by example with honesty, integrity, and high morals. Leaders who control the narrative and challenge the self-destructive and dehumanizing drift of our global society by speaking out loudly, creating awareness, and emphasizing mindfulness of the consequences of our actions. Prophet Muhammad was one such leader, and history demonstrates how he revived the world through his prayers and pleadings in the dark of night.

If there is any hope for civilization, for an uplifting, ennobling, and worthwhile human community to emerge from the current cacophony of strife, debasement, nihilism, and fanaticism, we must all revert to God and reform ourselves. The Khalifa of Islam, head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a man of God and God’s man on earth, is calling us all to come to God and to adopt a life of prayers, love, and compassion. Let us follow the voice that calls us in the name of God.

Let us not pick a fight with God.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Qasim Rashid
Written by

  • Patrick_Habib

    Oh dear Qasim. You always write such thought provoking articles. But with this one? Did your friend “KASHIF N. CHAUDHARY” write it for you? I mean come on you mentioned China the anti-theist country as the one who violates human rights but you totally forgot to mention those Muslim majority countries like KSA, Iran , Pakistan, Indonesia the same Indonesia that sanctioned “virginity testing” enforced on female police officers to “ensure” morality.

    And secular laws doesn’t put burden on a woman to avoid rape rather your God fearing people tell women to cover and stay closed in homes to avoid rapes.

  • http://www.bianymeans.com/ Trav Mamone

    True, the absence of religion does not automatically mean utopia, but what about the problems in our society caused by religious dogma? What about the American Religious Right who is actively trying to take away rights for women, people of color, and LGBT people? What about Sharia Law and Islamic terrorism? What about everyone whose religious beliefs tell them not everyone is equal?

    Also, in places like China, North Korea, and the old Communist Russia, it’s not secularism that caused all those human rights atrocities: it’s totalitarianism. A dictator is a dictator, no matter if he prays or not.

  • DarkB4DaStorm

    This reads exactly like something out of the Jerry Falwell or Billy Graham playbook. I am very curious to know who this author would vote for in 2016, if anyone. I mean, the kind of candidate or “leadership” as the author puts would be someone like Mike Huckabee, someone that wears their faith on his sleeve and makes no apologies about wanting to integrate god into his governance whether people want it or not, but Huckabee is a Christian, does the author approve of the leadership of a man with a different god? Regardless, what you’re really advocating here is an Amendment to our secular constitution, a call to weakening our 1st amendment rights is something I personally don’t take lightly, it’s a threat to all who live in a pluralistic society with differing views, truly incendiary piece here.

    • Martin Jibberjab

      Humanity’s foot falls a little heavier each day on the throat of religion. So don’t be surprised when you occasionally hear garbled noises resembling sentences.

  • Art_Vandelay

    It is only a fear of God, and recognition of our ultimate responsibility and accountability, that can prevent such heinous acts.

    I have no fear of god whatsoever and the number of times that I wanted to commit any of those heinous acts has been exactly zero. By admitting that you need to fear a deity to stop you from raping a woman is admitting that you are a sociopath.

  • http://www.twitter.com/alanbaoart Alan Bao

    Another sadly ignorant article parroting the old “God is good” line, while turning a blind eye to all the oppression, terrorism and genocides inspired by God and the godly.

  • bdlaacmm

    Amen.

    • Martha Anne Underwood

      I agree with the author in many points as I said above. I cannot agree that society as a whole has to embrace a specific religious faith to survive. I do agree that as a society we need to reject hypocrisy, intolerance, and extremism in all its forms. In many instances, Christians are not following Jesus’ teachings. We may go to church, serve in our churches, help others, however, we need to do more as a faith to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison, provide hospitality to the stranger alongside others with different faiths or no faith. As for your statement, “Had I not been assured of the ultimate triumph of Our Lord, I would be sorely tempted to despair”, I prefer to say that my faith in God in Christ brings me hope. Let’s be positive in our words and I believe more can be accomplished to make our world a better place.

  • Amor DeCosmos

    You have no idea what you are talking about, do you? You are basically advocating a theological state. You know who else likes a theological state? ISIS and Saudi Arabia. There are literally thousands of gods that people worship. Which god would you force people to believe in? Allah, am I right? Which version of Allah? – the Sunni, Shi’ite, Sufi, or Ahmadiyya version of Allah? Would you be like your brothers in the Middle East and torture and kill the Muslims who profess their faith differently than you do?

    For me there is no room for the occult and the supernatural in government. Belief in gods leads to bigotry, discrimination, war, murder, and inhumanity to each other. Just look at the legacy of Islam globally. No, you can take your “fear of God” crap and shove it up your a** which is where you pulled this ridiculous, poorly thought out idea in the first place. A secular government is the only way to ensure that everyone is treated respectfully and equally in a multicultural society.

  • primenumbers

    A secular country is one in which the laws are applied equally regardless of belief or lack of belief and their are no special privileges based on belief or lack of belief. If you think that your godliness implies equality, then I can’t think of a better equality for you to support than that very secular ideal you appear to despise. You really should do as you say and reject hypocrisy, starting with your own.

    “It is only a fear of God, and recognition of our ultimate responsibility and accountability, that can prevent such heinous acts” – on the contrary it is recognition of a god that has certain desires for people to act that become the rationalizations to support such heinous acts. Not only is any such act permissible with the statement that “god says so”, but it is actually necessary – and that’s very worrying because many people say their god says to do some pretty nasty things. And if it’s a fear of god that is stopping people doing such horrible things, then they’re pretty despicable people if they require such a fear to control their actions.

    “Secular laws alone cannot bring about peace and justice on earth” – it is only secular law that can achieve justice and peace on earth. Laws based on religion only create intolerance, division and us v them mentality. It is only recognition of our shared common humanity that will help us and as you say “our time here too short, to waste any more of it in winning fleeting victories at the expense of others”, recognition that our time alive is short and that means we have to solve our problems here and now via our own human means and not rely on any future divine justice to somehow right wrongs in another realm of being. Secular legal systems do work when enforced daily with respect to the basic equalities, and when the basic principles of humanism are used to address the fundamental needs of everyone in society.

    “Let us not pick a fight with God” – indeed, but that also implies not fighting over god(s) and to learn that we’re all human, we’re all in this together and we all do better through mutual cooperation.

    • http://jackherrington.com Jack Herrington

      “Let us not pick a fight with God” Why not? You are pretty much a guaranteed winner. As you are against the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Unicorns, and whatever non-existent mythical beings you want to fight.

      • primenumbers

        If you don’t believe in god, fighting god is nonsense. If you do believe in god, fighting against an all-powerful deity is an exercise in futility and hence nonsense. From any perspective it’s nonsense.

        • Martin Jibberjab

          (music) “I fought the Gawd, and the.. well, nothing really happened.”

  • http://jackherrington.com Jack Herrington

    C’mon! Who edits this site? You have a writer here positing that we should replace the Constitution with the word of “The Khalifa of Islam”? Because he thinks it will reduce rape? “Secular laws cannot limit the wandering eye of a would-be rapist as he scopes his next victim”. Wow. This is the kind of drivel I expect from the folks who try and give me literature at the farmers market.

    Seriously guys, you need to get some standards on your submissions.

    • Martha Anne Underwood

      Mr. Herrington, I have re-read this article several times and nowhere is Mr.Rashid saying that we should replace the Constitution with the word of “The Khalifa of Islam”. If this is the quote you speak of “The Khalifa of Islam, head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a man of God and God’s man on earth, is calling us all to come to God and to adopt a life of prayers, love, and compassion. Let us follow the voice that calls us in the name of God.”, do you see anywhere in there that he is advocating replacing the constitution? Please read the article without emotion and the hatred that you seem to feel towards people of faith and double check your statement. Why can’t atheist say, I don’t believe in God and list reasons other than emotional ones why they don’t believe?

      • http://jackherrington.com Jack Herrington

        Paragraph 2: The Constitution is not enough. Paragraph 6; we must abide by the rule of God. Paragraph 10; The “Khalifa of Islam” is “God’s man on earth” and “Let us follow the voice that calls us in the name of God.” Logical transitive properties apply; The Constitution should be replaced by the word of the “Khalifa of Islam”.

        And no, you don’t need to have “faith in God” in order to help the homeless or prevent abuse.

    • Martha Anne Underwood

      Ok, Mr.Herrington, I found the paragraph that caused you to make the statement about the Constitution. I think Mr. Rashid is not saying that we replace the Constitution with religious beliefs, but that the Constitution alone cannot prevent homelessness, abuse, etc. He believes that people need to have faith in God to overcome these problems. You can disagree with him, that is your freedom of speech. Your post seems to say that only people who agree with you have the freedom of religion. People of faith have that right too. Afterall this website is called “On Faith”, what do you expect. To me your words are inflammatory not productive.

  • Todd Sampson

    This is among the dumbest, most ignorant articles I have ever read. The bubble the author lives in must be extremely small and I pity him for never dipping one toe out of it.

    • Martha Anne Underwood

      I could use your own words to comment on your comment….This is the dumbest, most ignorant comment I have ever read. The bubble the author lives in must be extremely small and I pity you for never dipping one toe out of it. To me that it is not respectful comment for me to make to you. Too many people who disagree with an article are using mean-spirited and hateful responses when they don’t agree…people of faith are included in this statement. We need to disagree with the words, not denigrate the person who believes differently from you.

      • Todd Sampson

        Why should I give respect to someone who has to be willfully ignorant of what is going on in the rest of the world? In this day and age with information easily accessible, he is either just that ignorant or thinks everyone else is or just hopes this appeals to fellow ignorant people.

  • http://kapitano.blogspot.com/ Kapitano

    TLDR: Secular values are only possible in theocracy.

    Incoherent even in it’s own confused terms.

  • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

    Mr. Rashid, I can’t worship something I don’t believe in, and I don’t have any conscious control over what I believe. I do hope that you aren’t advocating that non-believers lie to themselves, because that is simply vile and does your god no honour at all.

    • Art_Vandelay

      Or even worse that non-believers are exported or as they do it in theocracies…murdered. I’m very curious as to his solution in enforcing this little Utopia that he dreams about.

  • Martin Hughes

    Secular laws can punish what are considered war crimes. Think of Nuremberg. On the whole they limit outward action rather than inner thoughts and desires. But very religious people can have bad desires: think of all the sense of sin and shame that permeates religious literature. Belief that it would be wrong to act a certain desire can limit the power of the desire, but so of couse can fear of the secular law. A person with violent sexual desires may well limit them and turn his mind in other directions because he does not want to be shamed or punished in this world.
    If you mean that morality can somehow seem meaningless without some idea of reward and punishment from on high, even in the next life, there may be a case to be made. But I honestly don’t think it is made here. Furthermore there must be something wrong with someone who does the right thing for supernatural reasons only.
    There is great danger to society if the religious law of a minority is given precedence over the law which is called secular because everyone regardless of religious affiliation can take part in making it. I don’t say that this is a conclusive proof of secularism but it is a significant point.
    Lincoln of course was not a member of any religious denomination and never sought baptism – there are fond stories to the opposite effect but they make no sense.

  • CottonBlimp

    Leadership matters. We need leaders who lead by example with honesty, integrity, and high morals… Prophet Muhammad was one such leader…

    He was a warmongering anti-semitic child rapist, you dunce.

  • Mubashar Ahmed

    I am not an atheist but I find your arguments a bit simplistic. I assume you are a believer. Let us assume one day you discover there is no God. My question is, would you live your life any differently?
    If your answer is Yes, I am sorry to say, there is something wrong with your belief system.
    If your answer is No, why then do you need to have ‘fear’ of God as a prop? Your belief alone should be sufficient.
    People who ‘fear’ God to restrain their urges really are no better than people who fear the Law to restrain themselves.
    Real fruitful education of people from a religious or non-religious perspective happens when people from a very early age are made to understand the short term and long term consequences of their actions in this very life. Hence the increasing trend for the Victim’s Statement in a court of law.
    Other than that I see most of human rights violations today in countries that claim to be religious so I guess their ‘fear’ of God is not helping the situation. There goes your argument.
    America has its problems but most of these are due to socio-economic reasons and a lack of proper education and awareness.

  • tatoo

    It seems that the opposite is true. Religion has caused the most horrendous acts in history. Secularism is the only rational way to go.

  • Martha Anne Underwood

    I am a Christian and I believe Mr. Rashid has made some good points. I see fear of God not like we usually think of it, but as respect for God. Whether you believe in God or not, he makes some valid points. I believe each of these quotes apply to all people:

    1. “Until we recognize that all human life is equal, requiring justice, dignity, equity, and respect for all, there will be no peace.” Yes, both religious people and those who are atheist need to learn this. Are all atheist perfect, never hurt people’s feelings, make wrong choices? I don’t think so and neither are persons with religious faith. Some may think they are perfect but they are sadly mistaken.

    2. “The world is too small, our wisdom too limited, our time here too short, to waste any more of it in winning fleeting victories at the expense of others”. How can you argue with that?

    3. Leadership matters. We need leaders who lead by example with honesty, integrity, and high morals. Leaders who control the narrative and challenge the self-destructive and dehumanizing drift of our global society by speaking out loudly, creating awareness, and emphasizing mindfulness of the consequences of our actions. How can you not agree with this statement? Whether you believe in God or not doesn’t matter, we need leaders with those qualities.

    • http://jackherrington.com Jack Herrington

      I’m not sure I get the point here. If you are saying that whether or not you believe in God you should respect others, not abuse them, and lead with morals and character. If so; agreed.

      However, that’s not the point of this article. The point of this article is expressly that you cannot do that without God. Or in this case, the “Kahlifa of Islam”.

  • K. M

    Amazing article written by Mr. Rashid.
    Many people think that it is religion and the belief in God that causes people to turn on one another. However, no religion, no teaching of God has ever instructed a person to inflict pain or suffering on any individual. It is human society itself that has taken the beautiful teachings of every religion and distorted and hijacked them, to try and justify their own personal and political agendas.

    It is almost as of there is a war waged against religion. If an individual commits a crime or an immoral act, the label of their religion is pasted across their face, even when the crime is committed in direct correlation with other factors (such as a mental illness). Until society recognizes that God is loving, and that religion is not evil, there will always be people who will try and justify human cruelties and immoralities as a product of religion.

  • Sam

    As a Muslim I have to say that I fundamentally disagree with you.

    I do not commit heinous actions because they are wrong to commit, just as I did not commit them when I was an anti-theists. That you need the threat of punishment to stay on the straight and narrow shows that something is missing in your heart. But do not assume that atheist, anti-theists, or non-theists lack morality. Secularist the world over hold themselves to moral codes with no fear of eternal punishment or hope for eternal reward. Philosophies ranging from Confucianism to Stoicism, from Buddhism to Marxism show that God is not necessary to do what is right.