The Future Of Secularism: Chapter 23


I was sitting in the Academy’s courtyard, by myself.

Absal had busied himself with a girl and I couldn’t help but feeling dissed. She had dark hair and eyes that were pulled back, just a little, at the edges. Her skin was soft, her face was a bit round. She looked like a really innocent girl. A really sweet girl. She wasn’t sweet enough to talk to me. She was so damn cute in her innocence, too. This wasn’t helping anything.

She wore a loose dark blue jean jacket, and flared pants that were a little too tight towards the top. At least Absal knew what he’d be getting into.

There was no one else to talk to (except myself. You, dear reader, will be privy to my ensuing, self-enclosed conversation). If people who talk to themselves are crazy, then I don’t mind being crazy — rather, I love it. Which means I love myself and I have a big ego, but you knew that.

(See how predictable that comment was? In fact, the whole line of argumentation could have been called out in advance [like the foreign policy of our countries]. You knew I was going to make a reference to ‘people who talk to themselves’ being ‘crazy,’ yet perhaps I included such a predictable comment only to prove that I am normal and, hence, boring and predictable. If I were crazy, I wouldn’t be so predictable. I’d include some random tangent about something else, and then you’d sit back and wonder what the hell goes through my head. And since Islam sees no separation between thought and action, where do you imagine me writing this? In some closed room, with dim light, slaving away at a computer? I will let you imagine. But act on your imagination, or else you wouldn’t be acting very Islamically [because you wouldn’t be acting at all]. I think I am one of the few people who can turn any tangent into an infinite regress. Eventually, we’d get back to God, because God is the source of all regression — and progression (1)). 

There was a lot of noise in the courtyard. Many students were walking back and forth, absorbed in their happy lives, glancing about to other happy faces. I was delighted and disappointed that most Turkish girls were so attractive.

My eyes felt tired, like I had driven a drive of a thousand miles, with only my final ounce of energy strong enough to keep my eyes open. Open to her (I could not shut her off). Sophia wore a dark gray skirt, and a pink sweater; neither was too loose (2). I knew what I would have gotten into, were I able to get myself into anything.

This was maddening. This was not Islamic. This was cowardly (let yourself mentally associate these two as polar opposites. I see the formation of a revivalist discourse that will produce thickheaded, stubborn, aggressive Muslims. … But, on second thought, perhaps this isn’t a revival. Maybe it’s just a clarification of what already is).

My sinful eyes stared at her sinless figure.

I looked back down at my soda before she looked back up again. A couple bubbles tore open at the surface, but then quickly vanished, like I will in only a few decades’ time. While my mind was a storm (do I look casual and act like I’m over her, do I act like I’m mad?), all my storm was predicated on her reaction. But she just kept walking and talking, laughing and smashing me into pieces, and I don’t think she gave a damn about what happened to me.  

After enough failures, I’d be a stronger man.

All this Islam seeping into me at every opportunity it had and I knew the purpose of life wasn’t happiness. But happiness would’ve been a nice bonus. I associated happiness, however, with finding someone to spend the rest of my life with. So that if I ever took a train to Teheran, I wouldn’t sit by myself, but I could have someone fall asleep on my shoulder.  

Does this make you feel sad for me? It makes me feel sad (for me). I am being noticed! I am being noticed!

I wanted to be noticed by others, because I cared more for them than I did for myself. Or for Him. I was their slave — not His. I was not surrendered yet; if I was, it was fake. I didn’t yet have the strength to say what I wanted, or to stand up for what I believed in. If I was to be a khalifa of God, then I should have realized that vicegerency presupposed some resolve.(3)

I was like the Muslim world. I needed to do something drastic, so others would notice me, and spare me the trouble of conquering myself. Spare me the trouble of realizing we are all, in the end, just human beings, and to stand apart from the crowd requires not arrogance, not violence, but resolve. 

* * *






this educational series is produced by Hizb Fazilat to raise

awareness of Islam and to promote the majesty of the Serhat against

the hollow capitalist culture that suffocates us. This story

presented by Alef Pa*a. Think, reflect, discuss. Repeat as necessary.




This would be a great time to slam Nietzsche. Art cannot be separated from the artist. There is no art for art’s sake… such a proposition is as ludicrous as the ‘art’ that results from its acceptance.

You can see a man’s height, weight and speed in his footprints. You can feel an author’s dreams, hopes and expectations in his words. You can touch the tears of a poet in his verse. And you can see a reflection of the soul in the artist’s art. Thus, the artist who makes art is releasing a part of himself. How one can ever dare say, then, that religion and art can and should stand apart is beyond me (and thus logic (4)).

We release what we see into what we make. Art expresses the soul. Secular art expresses the lack of one.  

Life came from water, God tells us. Man is a part of the seas and the oceans and the rain. A man who is not a man has dried up, has become stunted, cold, broken — divided. The works of secular artists do not qualify as true art, because they do not reflect the true person. They reflect, rather, the broken person. If we see bits and pieces of beauty in these works, it is only because even a shattered mirror reflects Light. But the more polished the mirror, the more astounding the reflection.

Which is why Islamic art — even Christian art (minus the idolatry they still can’t admit to after two thousand years) — has so much more beauty than modern "art"... because that same secular art is art separated from the meaning of life. This is a separation we, as Muslims, cannot allow. This is a separation that must be ended. Islam and art are connected; they were once and they must be again. If we dare separate them, we smash our soul, which is a mirror God has given to us, which we might polish and angle correctly, and thereby find His Light and make ourselves true vicegerents — true reflections of His Light to the world around us.

Secular existence has been separated from life. Life is separate from a purpose, church is separate from state, and man is separated from God. And in the end, we are all the more alone because our loneliness gives us no anchor.

This is your sin, I say to the modern world.

This is why I write.

This is why I cannot be separated from my writings. 

hizb fazilat. rarely, if ever, understood. 

* * * 


1. Notice that I am one of the few people who uses brackets within parentheses, because my thought is overly structured. And structure is yet another sign of God. If I were really daring, I'd make a comparison to structuralism. This comment is based on my writing, after all, and the philosophy of structuralism arose from structural connections observed in linguistics. If you were really bored, you'd notice I have an end-note referring to structuralism at the end of this book. Which shows just how structured we can make things. How many other books have footnotes which make reference to end-notes? Not many, I'd guess.

2. Nor would you expect it to be. I did, after all, write this book. Did you imagine I'd write about her in a Persian chador?

3. A khalifa, or Caliph, is a vicegerent. Islam teaches us that humans, women and men, were created by God to worship Him. Hence, each human being is God's vicegerent on Earth. Since we have been given free will, we have the choice to obey God or not. We must struggle, each and every day of our lives, to overcome ourselves and find real freedom. Islam is about elevating the human being through submission of her will to God's. This is why the status of a person is so elevated in Islam. We are not here, on this earth, by accident. It is something far, far greater than that.

4. I have become logic.

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