Academic journal article Islam & Science

The Secularist Modernist Bias of Western Social Sciences

Academic journal article Islam & Science

The Secularist Modernist Bias of Western Social Sciences

Article excerpt

Western social sciences in general bear a clear stamp of the modernist and secularist bias of the Western liberal academy. Adopting their typical mode of enquiry entails an ipso facto espousal of the liberal and secularist worldview with its epistemological and cultural preferences. Such an epistemological framework is largely confined to empiricism and its cultural perceptions are constricted by a Euro-centric view of history. It is a truism that an empirical mode of enquiry by its very nature cannot go beyond a partial perception of human existential reality. When this mode is further restricted by Western cultural dogmatics, it defies the perception of objective reality, precludes the cognition of significant subjective, introspective, and emotional dimensions of human behavior, and falls short of recognizing significant variables of cultural relativism. Therefore, this method is not only unfit to understand Muslim societies and their dynamics, it also fails to reach an adequate understanding of the various dimensions of human social behavior in general.

The impact of the modernist secularist bias on the fundamental approach common to the disciplines of the social sciences is that the knowledge of social phenomena supplied by them is deliberately filtered to fit the typical liberal modernist paradigm. These so-called objective and value-free sciences then assume the role of a messianic cultural movement to mold the whole world in accordance with the perceptions and priorities of the dominant Western paradigm. These sciences prescribe an epistemology which forces its user to conceptualize both manners of experiencing as well as the modes of explaining man and the world around him, all in accordance with their given presumptions. The result of an uncritical adoption of this method of enquiry is that one immediately becomes hostage to the proselytizing project of secular modernity launched by Western powers for their own specific ends. These powers have assumed a self-commissioned apocalyptic mission to liberate humanity from 'ignorance', 'irrationality', 'superstition', and 'backwardness', and recast the world in their own favored secular modernist model of 'enlightenment', 'progress', and 'development'. (1)

The most important bias of secular modernity is that it holds as an a priori assumption the absolute superiority of the present over the past. Whatever is later in time is reckoned as 'modern' and regarded as unquestionably higher, more progressive, more precious, and more valuable than all that which pertains to the past, which is in turn dubbed and dismissed as pre-modern, retrogressive, ancient, and archaic. There also exists in the modern Western mindset an inherent antagonism between 'then' and 'now', 'ancient' and 'modern', 'old' and 'new'. The word 'modern' has been derived from the Latin root modo, meaning 'just now'. Thus, in the very term 'modernism', a necessary superiority of the present over the past has been arbitrarily presumed. This typical occidentalist bias reflects the Western weariness with its own past which it perhaps rightly calls a dark period. In their myopia, however, the occidentals universalize their prejudice toward a particular era of their own history. The ethnocentric bias and bigotry of the Western episteme thus insists on seeing and showing the entire history of humankind from its own narrow prism and shallow spectacles. Hence the excessive obsession of Western social thinkers with an absolute preference of the present over the past and their dogmatic adherence to this creed, which is religiously followed in all social research that takes for granted that whatever is prior in historical time has to be backward and blame-worthy and whatever is subsequent must be 'advanced' and praiseworthy. This dogmatic attachment to a fixed notion of temporality has ab initio blinded the vision of high modernist scholars.

Those who uncritically borrow wisdom from their occidental masters thus land in serious flaws and fallacies on account of a blind emulation of modernist and secularist academics. …

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