chapter  8
Secularization, Weber, and Islam 1
ByFrancis Robinson
Pages 15

For the hundred years preceeding the Muslim revival of the late twentieth century, the Islamic world seemed to be following a path of secularization similar to that on which the Western Christian world embarked some centuries before. Law derived from revelation had been increasingly removed from public life; religious knowledge had steadily lost ground in education; more and more Muslims had come forward who were Islamic by culture but made “rational” calculations about their lives in much the same way as Christians formed in the secular West might do. The development of this “rationaliality” and rationalization within Christianity, according to Max Weber, brought the secular world into being. This essay is concerned to explore how far Weber’s theory of secularization, which is derived specifically from the experience of Western Europe, can help us both to make sense of this process in Islamic society and, perhaps, to reach some understanding of what the measure of secularization might be in an Islamic environment. 2