Symposium on Islam, Democracy and Secularism
September 18, 2014

Date: Saturday, 27 September 2014
Time: 9AM – 6PM
Venue: Studio R, Renaissance Hotel, KL


In the modern age, the term democracy poses a formidable challenge to Islam. Muslim jurists have argued that law made by sovereign citizens is illegitimate because it substitutes human authority for God’s sovereignty.

This is due to the fact that the generally accepted view in Islam is that God is the only sovereign and ultimate source of legitimate law. How, then, can a democratic conception of the people’s authority be reconciled with an Islamic understanding of God’s authority? Moreover, claims about God’s sovereignty assume that the divine legislative will seeks to regulate all human interactions. And that Shari‘a is a complete moral code that prescribes for every eventuality.

But then perhaps God does not seek to regulate all human affairs, and instead leaves human beings considerable latitude in regulating their own affairs as long as they observe certain minimal standards of moral conduct, including the preservation and promotion of human dignity and well-being.

To what extent then, should Muslims promote their faith through politics? Is the dictum “ad-deen wad-dawlah” – the inseparability between religion and state an absolute truth? How should we deal with the sociopolitical teachings of the Qur’an such as “commanding what is good and forbidding evil’? And how can one say that secularity is essential to Islam when Islamic jurisprudence is replete with laws and ordinances on ruler and the ruled?

These are some of the pertinent questions that will be dissected and debated in this symposium.


900-930 AM: Registration
930-940 AM: Welcoming speech by Yuenmei Wong
940-1000 AM: Officiating speech by YB Zairil Khir Johari, CEO, Penang Institute
1000-1200 Noon: Forum: Political Islam versus Secularism, Panelists: Dr Nader Hashemi, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Moderator: Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa
1200-100 PM: Workshop
100-230 PM: Lunch
230-500 PM: Forum: On Islamism, Post-Islamism and Civil Islam, Panelists: Dr Nader Hashemi, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Moderator: Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa
500-530 PM: Resolution
530-600 PM: Tea

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