The Quest for an "Islamic State" as a Response to the Secular State

Dr. Vivienne Wee
Publication Date: 
June, 2003

This article examines a particular variety of Islamic responses to the advent of the secular state in Asia. The secular state arose historically in Europe through the separation of church and state from the seventeenth century onwards. The notion of political secularism was brought to Asia (and elsewhere) through the experience of European colonialism. The post-colonial secular states of Asia are thus derived from experiences of European colonialism, even when such experiences did not result in total colonisation (for example, in China, Korea, Japan and Thailand). Although the secular politics of the new nation-states in the Asian region has been anti-colonial and nationalist in content, the secularism of politics nevertheless comes not from indigenous sources, but from historical origins in Europe, regardless of whether such secularism is democratic, fascist or communist.

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