Secularization and Arab Societies An Imposed Modernization or a Strategic Choice?


Mohammed Amezzian


This research seeks to contribute to rationalizing the current debate concerning the process of secularization that has been enforced on Arab and Muslim societies in a systematic and organized manner. This paper also seeks to find convincing answers to the central question raised by the title of the paper: Was this process of secularization a strategic option that expresses a concurrence between the state and society or a decision imposed on these communities under coercion? The problem raised by this question is not related to secularism as a concept or an ideology but is rather related to secularization as a procedural process tied to social dynamics. The main hypothesis of this research argues that the phenomenon of secularization is both novel and alien to Arab societies. The presence of secularization is correlated with international compulsions that affected the Arab region during the colonization era and has continued due to the states’ dependency on the west during the postindependence phase. To avoid superficial answers to this question, this paper attempts to address this issue within its historical context by highlighting the facts, practices and rationale that have accompanied the Arab Muslim community’s transition towards secularization, especially after its defeat during the World War I. Moreover, the paper focuses on the significance of the sociological approach to understanding the manifestations of secular influences on social lifestyle and on the behavior of individuals, groups and official institutions under the rule of foreign laws, as well as their dominance over the culture of society and its core values.



secularization of Arab Muslim societies

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