Secularism has often been regarded as a positive achievement of Western civilization. The separation of church and state, the rule of law, enhanced state power and authority, toleration of religious sects within an independent civil society, the citizen's freedom from organized religion, the relegation of religious belief to the private sphere - all such "secularizing trends" are perceived as benefits. However in the Arab Middle East, Western-inspired secularism is increasingly cited as the source of the region's social dislocation and political instability. This text is a contribution to such a debate. It examines the origins and growth of the movement to abolish the secularizing reforms of the past century by creating a political order guided by Shariah law.
The roots of Arab secularism, Azzam Tamimi; the limits of secularism, John Keane; towards a more comprehensive and explanatory paradigm of secularism, Abdelwahab Elmessiri; desacralizing secularism, S. Parvez Manzoor; secularism - the Western condition versus the Arab-Islamic, Munir Shafiq; the clash of profanised religions, Tomaz Mastnak; secularising the family and parentalizing the state, Heba Raouf; secularism in the Arab Maghreb - the Tunisian case, Rachid Ghannouchi; secularism in retreat, Peter Berger; philosophical and institutional dimensions of secularism - a Turkish perspective, Ahmet Davutoglu; rationality, civil society and democracy in the modern Muslim context, Abdelwahab El-Affendi.