2 thoughts on “Atheism etc”

  1. The ‘etc’ in the title of this piece should probably include secularism (ilmaniya) which any Gulf Arab Muslim I have asked has said is indistinguishable from atheism. This is, of course, anecdotal but I am not alone in making the observation. This links into the debate as to whether Islam can allow for the separation of religion and state when the faithful see it as a complete and indivisible recipe for life. This is more than a theological point if non-Muslim governments and others fail to take account of the visceral response in Gulf countries to any statement indicating non-belief. I once had to explain to a British MP speaking to an audience in liberal Bahrain why his declaration of personal atheism (but respect for Islam) was met with a sharp intake of breath.

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