The Future Of Secularism: Chapter 18


I think I felt comfortable hearing my language in music and poetry. I liked the feel of the clothes. I liked being able to stand out, without having to commit to any moral constraints. This way, I would be noticed as different from the pure secularists, without ever having to challenge myself.

My Islam didn’t really suffer from this new trend (then again, it wasn’t like it had ever been breathing, either). I just wasn’t sure what my relationship was to Islam, or God. I didn’t know where I should belong. However, I remained a regular at the Government Mosque on Azadeh Street. 

But I couldn’t get over the fact that despite this great wave of populist, national culture, the root of the matter was that everyone was a slave to the West or themselves — not God. It was beginning to bother me that I was worshipping a transient power and not the real one.

I could listen to the music, wear the clothes, watch our movies and read our histories (and damn were they good), but at the end of the day, the vast majority of the people I knew, who were nationalists like me, could not disconnect this cultural interest from complete and utter intellectual slavery to the secular West.

The Islamists, I had to admit, were the only ones positing any real alternatives.

The road to modernity was one we had to make, if only for the simple reason of survival, of feeding our people, of solving our environmental and social problems, of keeping people educated and the like. But the nationalists... I saw that their road to modernity was a secular one, albeit decorated with motifs that tried too hard to be un-Western.

This was similar to the Turks from Turkey proper used to talk with pride about "their" culture. It was just the grafting of some elements of their past onto a Western shell, but oh with what idiotic pride their eyes gleamed when they spoke of it.  

The idea of giving up on those things I said and did and drank and looked at, even if only from time to time, scared the hell out of me. I hid inside cultural religion, instead of religious culture.