Sunday, 25 July 2010

Islamization, Dewesternization, Desecularization

Alhamdulillah, praise be to Allah for everything. Attending yesterday's One-Day Colloqium on Islam & Secularism was really amazing and very worth. Just wanna share here some important knowledge from the seminar. Sharing is caring~~

"Al-Attas' Concept of Ta'dib as True and Comprehensive Education in Islam"
by Prof. Dr. Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud (UKM)

The speaker opened his lecture by informing the types of 'Great Book'. It is important to know what can make the book great, because many discussions will refer to al-Attas' books. A great book can be divided into Universally Great and Nationally Great. Each of these types divided into Perfect and Imperfect. Easy summarization can be seen below:

1. Universally Great Book:
  • Perfect Universally Great Book. Eg: Al-Quran. It is the word of Allah and has universal content for all mankind.
  • Imperfect Universally Great Book. Most of this type written by great scholar. Eg: Aristotle, Plato, al-Ghazali, al-Attas.
2. Nationally Great Book:
  • Perfect Nationally Great Book: Eg: The Holy Scriptures of the Prophets, which only for specific groups and times. Taurat by Musa, Zabur by Dawud, Gospel by Isa, etc.
  • Imperfect Nationally Great Book. Specific for certain nation. Eg: Sejarah Melayu.
Then, Prof. Wan elaborated the concept of Adab and Ta'dib with its functions in Islamic Education. In short, al-Attas proposed his own definition of Adab, he said: "Adab is recognition and acknowledgement of the reality that knowledge and being are ordered hierarchically according to their various grades and degrees of rank, and of one's place in relation to that reality and to one's physical, intellectual and spiritual capacities and potentials."

The speaker also highlighted the importance of Adab as the dicipline of man in the mind and soul, to think where to put things in the right place. Besides, he also suggested another suitable term fro the development. The development not only requires the aspect of progress, growth and changes. It can't be defined only as 'Pembangunan' in Malay language, but it needs the additional of Spiritual development. Thus, the real development is 'unfold from potential to actual', and that can be acknowledge as 'Islah' or 'Pengislahan' which is doing what is good whether in forward or backward actions, and it was a message sent by all the Prophets. So that, the development can cover all aspects of life spiritually, mentally, physically, economically and so on.

**Do we developed enough? and Do we promoting Adab to our ownselves and others? Think about it~!

"Dewesternization and Islamizing Science: Operationalizing the Neo-Ghazalian and Attasian Vision"
by Asst. Prof Dr. Adi Setia Muhammad Dom (IIUM)

The second lecture was relate to the first lecture in the combination of knowing and acting which resulting the importance of Adab, because Adab does not only refer to socio-professional ethics and good manners, but more importantly to the right knowledge and its expression in proper action. The knowledge also should come with Islamic Worldview as the vision of reality and truth.

Dr. Adi discussed a lot regarding to the concept of Islamization and Dewesternization. Both are the dual process of deconstructing and analyzing the Knowledge and Science. Al-Attas defines Islamization as "the liberation of man first from magical, mythological, animistic, national - cultural tradition opposed to Islam, then from secular control over his reason and his language." Then, dewesternization is a condition of Islamization by understanding that West brought too many confusion which will ultimately cause grave consequences. Then, the Westerm elements and concepts should be isolated, and then infuse the knowledge with Islamic elements in the view of of their fundamental nature as defining the fitrah, and Islamize by grafting or transplanting into Islamic sciences and principles.

The concept of Islamic Science also has been discussed further by Dr. Adi. He took the definition given by Prof. Dr. Osman Bakar who said that "Islamic Science is the science that is organically related to the fundamental principles of the Islamic Worldview, including the principle of tawhid, and which encompasses the totality of the mathematical and natural sciences cultivated by Muslims and non-Muslims in Islamic culture and civilization."

**Do we depend too much on Western culture & civilization? What are the efforts in Islamizing things and knowledge as a Muslim? Think about it~!

"The Concept and Experience of Religion in Islam: Bring Modernity into the Ambit of Tradition"
by Asst. Prof. Dr. Syamsuddin
Arif (IIUM)

The main content of this third lecture was on the concept of religion, freedom, justice, knowledge, and happiness.

Religion is not refer to the belief in the supernatural or the sacred (Martineau, Spencer, Frazer), not only ethics or morality (Bradley and Arnold), not only for personal piety (McTaggart and Tiele), not the feeling or emotion (Schleiermacher), not 'geworfen' (thrown) into this world (Heidegger), not in vain, not secularistic, even it is not only submission, but as al-Attas said: "Religion consists not only of affirmation of Tawhid, but also of the manner and form in which we verify that affirmation as shown by Prophet Muhammad." Religion also create our covenant with Allah, for us as His slave and servant in absolute sense.

Freedom can be divided into negative and positive freedom. The negative freedom refers to 'freedom FROM obstacles, regulations or restrictions', and it is bad because it leads to anarchy. While positive freedom is 'freedom TO do whatever you like to get pleasure and liberty'. Contrary to the secular Western idea, freedom in Islam refers to the loyalty and preservation of our Fitrah. Muslim should free themselves from worshipping Syaitan, idols, money and desire.

Justice according to Western concept refers only to relational situations of harmony and equilibrium existing between citizens, or between the individuals and the govt, or ruler or king. But in Islam, justice means "a harmonious condition or state of affairs whereby every thing is in its right and proper place, creating an order of things and living beings in accordance with one's own nature and following sunnatullah."

Happiness as defined by many Western scholars were incomplete as compared Happiness understood in Islamic Concept. It is ultimately not the feeling or emotion but it a consciousness of the certainty of the truth, which is the result of knowledge of God. It is not only worldly life of happiness but ultimate happiness in the Hereafter.

**So, do you expect that happiness in this world guarantee our happiness in the Hereafter? Happiness cannot be seen materially, but feel it deep in your heart..

"Islamization of History: The Case of Malay Archipelago" by Assoc. Prof Dr Muhammad Zainy Uthman (IIUM)

This lecture discovered that the concept of Islamization was proved in the Malay World hundred years ago. Al-Attas was among the first scholar dates his General Theory of the Islamization of the Malay Archipelago as early as the first century of Islam. He identified three phrases in his theory:

1. Physical Islamization where Fiqh or Jurisprudence played a major role of intrepreting shariah in the conversion of the Malays.
2. Intellectual Islamization in the major role of Tasawwuf, Sufism and Mutakallimun
3. Cultural Islamization in the perpetuation of rationalistic, individualistic and internationalist spirit.

**Do we think that being a Malay is enough? or being a Muslim is important to ourselves? Proud to be Muslim or Malaysian or Indonesian or Singaporean? Think~!

"Building Sustainable Muslim Communities in a Secular World"
by Sheikh Hassan Pederson Henning (Denmark)

This evening lecture emphasized on the concept of Consumerism which was brought by Secularism. That's why the speaker asked a question 'Has the Ummah of Muhammad surrended to Secular Consumerism?'.

Both concepts of Secularism and Consumerism are close to being 'chicken and egg' terms because secularism is needed to make consumerism more successful. The reason why he discussed about its relationship because many of Muslims didn't look the consumption of World resources in Islamic ways, by too much depending and adopting Western norms and values while throwing Islamic ethics to the wayside.

The speaker also mentioned about the importance of World, Water, Halal Food, God Creations from Islamic perspectives. He also promoted the term of 'sustainability' which is really important in Muslim community. Muslims should create sustainable lifestyle and create sustainable community from that lifestyle. It will help to save from the destruction in this World. Sustainability can be understood as the art of living only of the resources of the land where your feet stands on, it comes from the word 'sustain' which carries the meaning of maintain and provide for.

He was the representative for The International Islamic Institute for Sustainability (IIIS). Further information can be looked at

**Do we love being in this World or do we love our Worldly affair? Think about it~!

Special Keynote Address "Dewesternization of Knowledge"
by Prof. Dr. Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas

This speech was the most waiting speech for everyone. The attendance of Prof al-Attas might be the main reason of many participants for last night. This topic actually was mentioned in Chapter 4 of his book 'Islam & Secularism', forty years ago. Subhanallah...

He began with the meaning of 'Dewesternization' which involves of influences from people and place, especially comes from the West. This concept should imply the understanding on the spirit and strength from the West, because this understanding will help to realize that Islam has greater strength than them. The spirit of the West are:
  • The tragedic story in human predicament. They always come with the idea of tragic hero that was sent to the world.
  • The dualistic vision of things either in the idea of objective & subjective, inductive & deductive, rationalistic & empirical, material & ideal, etc.
  • The concept of humanistic and humanity, which comes as their ultimate truth and object of worship. They too much concern on human rights without deep understanding on its meaning.
  • The constant changing and seeking in certain movements because of different method, thinking and views. In reality, philosophy cannot discover the truth but discover the true perspectives in certain areas.

Al-Attas also reminds all that secularization is a philosophical programme. It simply means about this world and try to separate the religious aspect from any other aspects. Actually it challenges all religions not only Islam and Christianity, and they also know the dangerous impact of secularization. Besides, he also gave an advice "We must not be like a children, we should be matured to liberate and free ourselves from secular challenges". Matured here can be understood in our thinking and mind, because it needs to go through the process of learning to be matured.

In addition to that, he emphasized also on the importance of knowledge and virtues. According to him, knowledge is not solely the product of human mind, it needs revelation to verify our findings, statements or learning. While virtue has higher status than value, because it is the fundamental element of ethics. I like the way he relates justice, freedom and wisdom, he said: "Justice is to put things in the right place, Freedom is to conform things in the right place, and Wisdom is when you know what the right place is."

Unfortunately, I was too sleepy at the end of his speech, not due to the reason that his speech was not interesting, but it was my own fault and regret to not have enough energy for that day. Perhaps my mind was too full to be forced in receiving information, that's why I was unable to bear for a while during the Q&A session. Anyway, I pray to Allah that Prof. al-Attas was given blessing and love from Allah, and may Allah put his idea and thought well received by everyone including Muslims and non-Muslims. May Allah also bless all Muslim scholars and intellectuals.

**Who am I in the age of forty? Who are you and Where could you be in the future? Think about it~!

Those who read this entry and interested to photocopy the paper work from this seminar, please send request to my email at, or PM me at my Facebook (HERE). TQ

It is not only the matter of Islamization and Dewesternization, it also includes the responsibility to desecularize the knowledge. The most important thing to do now is put the WORDS into WORKS and let the THEORIES become PRACTICES.

Wallahua'lam bissawab~~


  1. A marvelous personal report. Well done. TQ. Plz, I want the paper works.

  2. i appreciate this summary of the event. was there any recording?


  3. Salam...may I have a copy of the recording too. Jazakallah. Pls email it to

  4. Assalamualaikum. My name is Julia, an IIUM Medical student. This is a great report. I was there at the Seminar too. If you don't mind, may I have a copy of the recording as well? Please e-mail it to I have an Islamic Input for Medical programme presentation coming up, and I feel like sharing what I learned in this seminar with the rest of my class.

  5. Currently, I am so busy, InsyaAllah i'll try my best to send the recording to both the email (hasnah and julia)

  6. salam, great work.....ruginya tk sempat nk pergi. Higlly appreciate kalau boleh email to or by hand. T.Q dear.

  7. Assalamualaikum, my name is Nawas Phettongkam, I am first semester Ph.D student at IIUM, I have found out this site by chance. This is so useful, you have done a good job, Mashaallah. I would like to ask your favour to send the seminar documents to my Email or can I contact you. If you don't mind, you can just miss call me at the number 0107976698. For your information, I intended to do my PHD thesis about Islamization of Knowledge implementation in Muslim Academic Institutions in Thailand, your information will be very useful and blessed from Allah.. Inshaallah.