Secularism and the secular state have been subjected to severe criticisms by Muslims as well as by several scholars in the West. Many Western scholars argue that secularism not simply trivializes faith but is hostile to religious believers. It inhibits diversity and homogenizes the public domain. It has failed to accommodate community-specific rights and therefore is unable to protect religious minorities from discrimination and exclusion.
In the Muslim world, secularism was jolted with the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This was followed by the establishment of an Islamic state in Sudan. In 1991, the Salvation Front won the election in Algeria. Islamic movements emerged in Tunisia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Chad, Senegal, Turkey, and in Afghanistan. The first Islamic republic was established in Pakistan in 1956.
Muslim scholars, for long, have expressed their concern about the negative aspects of secularism and have argued that Islamic cultural values offered more wholesome alternatives to modern society because they are grounded in a worldview which harmonises revelation and reason. The revivalists or reformers like al-Ghazali (d. 1111), Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 1328), and Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406) and those of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries such as Shah Wali Allāh al-Dihlawi (d. 1762), Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab (d. 1792), Uthman dan Fodio (d. 1817), and Ahmad Ibn Idris (d. 1837) are among the well-known reformers (Rahman, 1970; Voll, 1999). They differed in their approaches but their primary concern was with the socio-moral reform and reconstruction of Muslim societies based on the values promoted in the Qur’Én and Sunnah (Rahman, 1970, p. 640). Their regenerative activities are known as iṣlaḥ (reform), iḥyÉ’ (revival), tajdīd (renewal), ṣaḥwah (awakening) and the like.