Throughout history, all cultures and civilizations have known interaction and conflict between relative human concepts and absolute and sacred religious concepts. As a result of this interaction, several concepts and trends emerged, including the concept of "secularism".

The word secularism is an inaccurate translation of the English word (secularism) and the French word (sécularisme), as well as the English (laicism) and (French) laïcisme, both of which are derived from the Latin word (laicus) which means “the ordinary person”, which in turn is taken from the Greek word “ laós – λαός” meaning “the people”.

However, the Latin use of this word has been specialized in a section of the “people”, in contrast to the “priest” (clerc), which is the man of knowledge, the “scientist” (instead of the meaning of the Greek word “cleros” meaning inherited luck), and what is meant is the clergyman (Christian). ) Regular in the ecclesiastical priesthood.

Separation of religion and state

Secularism, in its political aspect, means non-religiosity in governance and the separation of religion from the state, and it is a term that has nothing to do with the word “science” (SCIENCE) from which it is derived. And reason, calculating interest away from religion.

It seems that the first people who introduced this concept into the Arabic language seemed shocking to them because of this term that eliminates religion from people's lives.

They chose a translation that approaches science and facilitates the flow of the concept into Muslim societies.

The agreed upon meaning of secularism means isolating religion from the state and the life of society, and keeping it imprisoned in the conscience of the individual that does not go beyond the special relationship between him and his Lord.

If he is allowed to express himself, then only in devotional rites and ceremonies related to marriage, death, and the like.

Another term is used in the Francophone space;

It is Laïcité.

It carries with it a special meaning associated with France in particular.

The French thinker Maurice Barbier defined laïcité in its broadest sense as "the separation between religion and worldly realities" (les réalités profanes).

independence from theology

It assumes that these realities are not subject to religion or its influence, whether what is meant by religion is faith, association, or religious authority.

Thus, we see that philosophy in the West became independent of theology, that the various sciences were formed outside the framework of Christianity, and sometimes against it, and that all human facts: political, social, cultural, and so on, have become independent of religion.

For this reason, we can describe a society or a certain thought as secular, if it completely gets rid of any religious trace, and obeys only the pure principles within the rational or natural order.

Accordingly, secularism can be defined as a social movement that constitutes a trend in life based on the principle of excluding religious considerations from politics, developing humanism, and establishing a system of values ​​and behavior away from religion.

It can also be said that secularism originally did not mean irreligiosity, but meant irregularity in the ecclesiastical priesthood.

And if we say that the men of the Church - and they were the majority in the Middle Ages - are the "privileged", then the secularists were the "public".

Origin and establishment

There are those who attribute the first beginnings to the emergence of ideas that will later lead to secularism, on which the matter finally settled.

To the beginnings of Christian contact with Muslims in Andalusia.

That is when they noticed that the Muslims do not have an intermediary between them and their Lord;

In contrast to their situation with their monks, who mediate between them and God in return;

They impose royalties on them, sell them indulgences, and make collusion with their kings, who themselves are subject to the power of the Church.

So many Christians took action, demanding the same thing that Muslims do, in terms of communicating directly with God without an intermediary.

And the matter developed over the years until it reached a slogan raised by the French Revolution, "Hang the last king with the intestines of the last priest."

The development of the concept of French secularism

The use of laicism appeared in Europe and became widespread in the Middle Ages, when the church sanctified itself. Individuals who were called laic were considered fully and completely Christians, that is, they were full members of the “people of God,” who believed in Christ and were faithful followers of Him. However, they are not members of the priestly organization that makes up the papal empire.

As for French laïcité, it is not just a mechanism for dealing with the issue of religious or sectarian division. Rather, it is more like a totalitarian and strict doctrine that bets on replacing religions and beliefs after absorbing many of their manifestations and expressions in a secular form.

The evidence for this is the reverence and taboos surrounding French laïcité, which makes one vulnerable to defamation and condemnation by simply objecting to some laïcité perceptions.

French laïcité operates through two complementary and mutually reinforcing arms: first;

Through the mechanism of control and punitive control of the state, i.e. the secular republic that is based on guarding the values ​​of the state and society and controlling what is permitted and forbidden from its perspective.


Through the tools of cultural and ideological guidance by which the individual personality is formulated, and secular values ​​are implanted in the public space, on top of which are educational institutions and educational and academic curricula.

French laïcité is not content with liberating the politician from the control of the church, but is betting on fighting religion in general and expelling it from the public space to be replaced by laïcité values, and for the school, in turn, to replace the church in reformulating individual and collective consciousness.

Thus, French laïcité is based on a theoretical foundation that considers the laïcité state a guarantor of social and political unity, a guardian of public identity, and granting it the ability to transcend the social and value divisions that corrode the body politic.

All of this makes secularism practically an "official religion of the state";

Although it claimed that it separates religion from politics.

Countering the pervasiveness of the church

As for secularism, in its current widespread concept that it is opposite to religion, it arose in the era of enlightenment and the European renaissance to confront the church and oppose its standing in the face of scientific development and its control over society and its institutions, due to the exaggeration of the churchmen in their tyranny that exceeded all limits.

The clergy turned into tyrants, political professionals, and tyrants under the guise of "clergy," "monasticism," "the Lord's Supper," and the sale of "indulgences," as well as because the Church stood against science and its hegemony over thought, its formation of inquisition courts, and its accusation of scholars of heresy.

Among the examples of this is what the Polish scientist, philosopher and astronomer Nicholas Copernicus was exposed to, who published in 1543 AD a book about the movements of celestial bodies, and the church banned it, and he adopted similar ideas after him, the Italian astronomer and scientist Galileo Galilei, and developed them until he said that the earth is spherical in shape, so the church attacked him and tried him and prevented his writings .

The actual spread of the secular call in Europe was with the French Revolution, then it spread to the countries of the world by virtue of Western influence and communist penetration.

Many circumstances before and after the French Revolution in 1789 led to the wide spread of the concept of secularism and the crystallization of its approach and ideas.

As a result of this conflict between the church on the one hand and the new movement on the other hand, the birth of the French government was in the year 1789 AD.

German philosopher Karl Marx, one of the greatest theorists of secularism in the twentieth century (websites)

The relationship of the French Revolution to secularism

As a result of the conflict between the church on the one hand and the new movement on the other hand, the French government was born in 1789 AD, and it is the first non-religious government to rule in the name of the people.

And there are those who believe that the Freemasons took advantage of the mistakes of the Church and the French government and rode the wave of revolution to achieve their goals.

Count "Mirabeau" - who is considered a preacher, leader, and philosopher of the French Revolution - was an eloquent orator who made the demagogic crowds march stunned to demolish the Bastille prison in Paris and its slogan was "bread", then the mentors were soon able to transform the slogan of the revolution into "freedom, equality and fraternity", as The slogan "Down with reaction" was raised, which is a pun word meaning in its depth religion. The Jews infiltrated this slogan to break the barriers between them and the state apparatus and dissolve religious differences, and the revolution turned from a revolution against the grievances of the clergy into a revolution against religion itself.

The most important theorists of secularism and its most important schools

The Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza:

He is a Jew, and is considered the pioneer of secularism as a method of life and behaviour.

French scientist and philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau:

who published in 1778 the book "The Social Contract", which is considered the "Bible" of the French Revolution.

Nicolaus Copernicus, one of the European scientists who suffered persecution from the Church (websites)

French philosopher Charles Louis de Secunda Montesquieu:

especially in his book "The Spirit of Laws", he is the owner of the theory of separation of powers, which has become one of the basic principles in political practices.

French writer and philosopher François Marie Arouet Voltaire:

the owner of the concept of "natural law", and he is from the generation known as the "philosophers of lights".

German philosopher and thinker Friedrich Nietzsche:

who built his philosophy claiming that "God has died and that the supreme man (Superman) should replace him."

German philosopher and thinker Karl Marx:

He is a Jew who is known for his theory of the materialistic interpretation of history, and is famous for his phrase “religion is the opium of the people.” He is considered the greatest advocate of communism and its first founder.

French philosopher and thinker Jean-Paul Sartre:

He formulated the theory of "existentialism", and achieved impressive success and great fame as the leader of the existential movement.

The Italian scientist Galileo Galilei was prosecuted by the church because he said that the Earth is spherical in shape (websites)

The most important theories affecting secularism

The theory of evolution:

Charles Darwin's book The Origin of Species appeared in 1859, and focused on the law of natural selection and the survival of the most suitable. He made the true ancestor of man a small germ that lived in a stagnant swamp millions of years ago, and considered that the monkey was a stage of development, of which man was the last.

This theory led to the collapse of religious belief and the spread of atheism.

The God-Man Theory:

With the emergence of Nietzsche and his philosophy, which claims that God has died and that the Supreme Man (Superman) should replace him.

The animal human theory:

formulated by the French philosopher and sociologist Emile Durkheim, who is one of the founders of modern sociology. In his theory, he combined human animalism, materialism, and the theory of the collective mind.

The human-animal sexual theory:

adopted by the Austrian physician and thinker Sigmund Freud, who is a Jew, and considers the sexual drive to explain all phenomena;

He sees man as a "sexual animal".

Marxist theory:

formulated by the German philosopher Karl Marx and based on what he called the "materialist interpretation of history";

who believes in inevitable evolution.

Existential Theory:

Its author was the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, which he published in his theoretical books, especially in his books “Existence and Nothingness (1943)” and “Existentialism is a Humanist Doctrine (1946).”

The Church's restrictions on scholars and thinkers in the Middle Ages led to a revolution against it and the emergence of the idea of ​​secularism (Shutterstock)

The concept of secularism outside the French context

In the Anglo-Saxon tradition, we do not find the term "laïcité". Rather, unlike the French path, we find the word secularisation, the word secularism, and the word secularist, because the English historical path was not a confrontational one that imposed a radical break with religion as It was the case in France.

Britain did not witness that French controversy between the secularists, especially among the intellectuals and men of education, and between the clergy;

Rather, secularization as an evolutionary path was the decisive factor.

Especially when it was represented in a political position and an intellectual view of reality.

The same development took place in Japan, where secularism is a political and intellectual position.

The Oxford dictionary defines secularism as: “the belief that morals must be for the benefit of human beings in this life (the world), to the exclusion of all other considerations derived from belief in God or the afterlife (afterlife).”

As for secularism in the United States of America and Switzerland, it was understood as a movement that aspired to protect civil society from state interference in its field.

The date of the emergence of secular ideas in some countries of the Arab and Islamic world


Secularism entered Egypt with the campaign of the French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte.

Al-Jabarti referred to it in his history (the part devoted to the French campaign against Egypt and its events) in terms revolving around the meaning of secularism, even if he did not mention the word explicitly.

As for the first person to use this term (secularism), he was a Christian named Elias Buqatar, in an Arabic-French dictionary he authored in 1827 AD.

Khedive Ismail introduced French law in the year 1883 AD, and he was fascinated by the West, and he hoped to make Egypt a part of Europe.


Until the year 1791, the rulings in India were according to the Islamic Sharia (Islam ruled India and remained the official religion of its state for 8 centuries, until the English colonialism abolished it with Hinduism, Buddhism and other pagan religions). mid nineteenth century.


Islamic law was abolished after the French occupation in 1830 AD.


French law was introduced in 1906 AD.


French law was introduced in the country in 1913, and double courts continued to be used.

Islamic and man-made, with the gradual abolition of Sharia and its replacement by French man-made laws.


It wore the dress of secularism after the abolition of the caliphate and the stability of matters under the control of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, although there were previous precursors and introductions.

Iraq and the Levant:

Sharia was abolished during the abolition of the Ottoman caliphate, and the English and French were firmly established in it.