Islam & Secularism: A Reading and Discussion Course

A discussion on the book widely regarded as one of the great books in the Muslim world by one of the most creative and original Muslim thinker in the contemporary Muslim world. The author deals with fundamental problems faced by contemporary Muslims and provides real solutions.

The discussion will elucidate many key …terms and concepts in each chapter of the book beginning with al-Atttas’s analysis of ‘The Contemporary Western Christian Background’ (Chapter I), followed by his analysis of the concepts of ‘secular’, ‘secularization’, and ‘secularism’ (Chapter II), the portentous set of ideas that have changed the world. Chapter IV of the book entitled ‘Islam: The Concept of Religion and the Foundation of Ethics and Morality’ is where he analyses the meaning of Islam as derived from selected verses of the Quran. He contends that the contemporary Muslim ‘dilemma’ can be alleviated with his proposal for “dewesternization of knowledge” or, the “islamization of contemporary knowledge”, an original concept conceived and elucidated by him but has since been adulterated as ‘Islamization of Knowledge’. An appendix entitled, ‘On Islamization: The Case of the Malay-Indonesian Archipelago’ brings the book to a close.

This book has been translated into most of the major languages of the Muslim world, such as Turkish, Arabic, Urdu, Indonesian, Bosnian, and Persian, the main ideas of which were originally contained in his Malay book Risalah untuk Kaum Muslimin.


1) The discussion will be held on weekly basis, on every Friday night, 8-11pm, (11, 18, 25 June, 2, 9, 16 July 2010).

2) This event is jointly organized by Himpunan Keilmuan Muda (HAKIM), Curiosity Institute (CI) and Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM).

3) The speaker is Assoc. Prof. Dr Muhammad Zainiy Uthman. He completed his Ph.D under the supervision of Prof. Syed Muhammad Naquib al–Attas in 1997 and worked at ISTAC from 1991 – 2002.


Update as at 8th June:

4) Muhammad Zainiy Uthman obtained his B.Sc (1996) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA). After having completed his M.A (1990) from the University of Chicago (USA), he joined ISTAC in 1991 as Junior Research Fellow at the invitation of Professor Al Attas. Upon completeion of his Ph.D at ISTAC in 1997, he served as Research Fellow, then Senior Research Fellow. He was Associate Professor and Curator of ISTAC Library from 2002-2003 and was awarded the British Chevening Fellowship (2003-2004) where he spent an academic year at the Oxford Centre as Visiting Fellow for Islamic Studies. In 2005-2006, he returned to Oxford as Visiting Fellow at the same centre. He translated al-Attas’ “The Meaning and Experience of Happiness in Islamic” into Malay (ISTAC 2002). He is now co-editor with Prof. Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud of the Knowledge, Language, Thought and the Civilization of Islam: essays in Honor of Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas, which was launched this year.

5) Course Fees: RM 50.00 for students; RM 100.00 for professionals cover for 6 consecutive weeks (11, 18, 25 June, 2, 9, 16 July 2010).

Certificate: A certificate of attendance will be awarded to participants who have attended at least 50% of the whole course.

*Actually the organizer does not make any profit from this event, since the course fees are to absorb the technical cost such as the refreshment, handouts, certificates and others. Participants are allowed to make the course fees either lump sum at first class or end of six weeks. But it is encourageable to make earlier.

* For students, the cost is negotiable. It is most welcome if they can make full settlement as to show the seriousness of the participation.

6) This event is jointly organized by HAKIM, CI and ABIM. ABIM is the latest party interested to hand-in-hand organize the event since the book Islam and Secularism was earliest published by ABIM in year 1978. The historical attachment drives ABIM to joint the event.

7) The medium of instruction might be in dual language.


update as at 13/06/2010

8) Refreshment/dinner will be served shortly after magrib prayer prior the discussion commence. So, do come earlier.

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