Philosopher Cries About the Death of Secular Liberalism in the Maghreb


There are many individuals in the Muslim world who, despite possessing no evident intellectual or moral acumen, are promoted and portrayed as somehow being authoritative figures simply because they embrace liberalism. They are also then presented as being representative of the wider population.

This happens within numerous fields, most prominently in politics. However, you find these liberal agents in the field of academia too.

One such individual is Razika Adnani, an Algerian secularist “philosopher” based in France.

Adnani: The Typical Reformist Profile​

To get a basic understanding of who exactly Adnani is, it is perhaps sufficient to know that she taught some courses on “Thinking Islam” (Penser l’Islam) at Michel Onfray’s Popular University of Caen.

For those that may be unaware, Onfray is the only equivalent to the Anglo-American “New Atheists.” He is a militant secularist atheist with an unyielding and unexplainable hatred for “theism” as a whole, particularly when it comes to Islam. In 2016, following the November 2015 attacks, he released Penser l’Islam. Interestingly, this is the same title being being used for Adnani’s courses at Onfray’s university.

The actual book itself was heavily criticized for being wildly oblivious to the basic theological propositions of Islam and for containing an array of other errors and inaccuracies. But the fact that Adnani is happy and willing to associate herself with such a person should provide you with a basic grasp regarding her character.

Add to this, then, the additional fact that her entire “public intellectual career” has been focused on trying to delegitimize the Hijab, and voila, you have the complete “reformist” package—a cocktail of liberalism, secularism and feminism all in one.

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The Marianne Interview​

What’s of greater interest to us is not Adnani herself per se but what she openly stated in a recent interview with Marianne.

Marianne is a weekly magazine that has often been described both as leftist and rightist. Such a contradiction is not particularly surprising since it is essentially a secularist magazine, thus it can adopt both leftist and rightist talking points depending on the occasion in the same way there’s no real difference between leftist and rightist French politicians when it comes to Islam.

Within the French ideological spectrum, secularism transcends (and perhaps unites) both the Left and the Right. They are effectively united against their greatest common enemy, Islam.

The interview in question, which is basically a summary of her research-study that came out in the form of a report, was published on February 20, 2023, just a few weeks ago, in French (the below excerpts in English are my own translations), under the following title: “In the Maghreb, there is a progressive renunciation of the achievements of the Nahda.”

In France, the Maghreb is defined as comprising the nations of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

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In the Anglosphere, “North Africa” may also include Mauritania, Libya and even the Siwa Oasis in western Egypt (due to its ethnic Berber population), but the French perception of the Maghreb is limited to the three countries mentioned above.

Thus, the Maghreb that we are discussing here is referring to these three countries in particular, which have a combined population of approximately 100 million (45 million for Algeria; 40 million for Morocco; and 12 million for Tunisia).

This is without including the Maghrebi diaspora, running into the millions, that are located primarily in France.

As for the second part of the article’s title, Nahda, this is how Adnani defines it:

Nahda is an Arabic term that is often translated as “renaissance.” It refers to an extraordinary modernization movement that took place in the Arab and Maghreb countries between the beginning of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century; but which actually affected a large part of Muslim countries. Its objective was to bring these countries out of their underdevelopment and allow them to enter into the era of modernity.
The Nahda concerned all fields: literature, politics, society, religion and humanity. And these achievements changed the face of Muslim societies within a few years, allowing them to emancipate themselves from the traditions and constraints of the Shari’ah. The most important achievements in the social and political field were the adoption of the constitutional system and the emancipation of women. Women were given rights they had never dreamed of before—to leave the house unaccompanied, to not wear the veil, to get an education and to work.

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Muslim Skeptic readers will quickly notice the same old, boring, oft-repeated script. This is the typical liberal-secularist who, in the name of modernism and reformism, tries to methodically dismantle Islam as a societal force (that’s when they’re not trying to dismantle Islam as an actual religion).

So, in summary, there’s nothing new here really.

What is more intriguing is that she admits that the Nahda has been an epic fail (we’ll forgo her “masculine domination” tropes):

The reform of Islam was also one of the projects of the Nahda which it was not able to achieve. […] there was not only an interruption of the modernization process but also a progressive renunciation of its achievements, especially from the 1970s onwards. The renunciation of the values of modernity and the phenomenon of going back to the past do not only concern the Maghreb countries but all Muslim countries, as well as the West, where a significant part of the population is now Muslim. In France, high school students who claim the right to wear the gandoura, the “qamis,” the “abayah” and the veil are part of this phenomenon of a return to the past, which is always represented as a supreme value within the religious discourse. Gandoura is the term used in the Maghreb to designate the long dresses worn by women and men. “Qamis” and “abayah” are Arabic terms used in the Middle East, especially in Islamist circles.

What’s noticeable here is how she says that it not only failed in the Muslim world itself but also among the Muslim immigrant communities in Europe…

Anti-Islam activists often cope by saying that the strength of Islam is due to it being “enforced” within the Muslim world (even if no Muslim-majority nation applies the Shari’ah in its totality). But who exactly is “enforcing” Islam in France, Belgium, etc., for these immigrants to be able to elude liberalization and secularization?

As for the Muslim world, Muslim Skeptic readers shouldn’t be surprised. The latest Arab Barometer surveys which we covered in an earlier article last year noted a striking surge of religiosity among the Arab youth. Ironically, the highest rise has been witnessed in Adnani’s own home country, Algeria.

So we clearly have no need for her “research-study” on the subject. However, its always gratifying to see how Islam stands alone, among all the world religions, in its persisting resistance against liberal-secularism on a larger scale, just like it’s always an amusing treat to witness the heartfelt lamentations of the liberal agents working against Islam.

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