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The idea of secularism in Islam means favoring a modern secular democracy with separation of mosque and state, as opposed to Islam as a political movement. Secularism in the Muslim countries refers to the ideology of promoting the secular as opposed to the religion. It is often used to describe the separation of civil/government matters from religious theocracy. Secularism is often condemned by Muslims who do not feel that religious values should be removed from the public sphere, though "Muslim theologians have long distinguished between matters of din [religion] and dawlah [state]." Secular states had existed in the Muslim world since the Middle Ages. The quest for Secularism has inspired some Muslim scholars who argue that secular government is the best way to observe sharia and enforcing sharia through coercive power of the state negates its religious nature, because Muslims would be observing the law of the state and not freely performing their religious obligation as Muslims," says Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, a professor of law at Emory University and author of a book on the future of sharia. Majority of Muslim countries have a dual system in which the government is secular but Muslims can choose to bring familial and financial disputes to sharia courts. The exact jurisdiction of these courts varies from country to country, but usually includes marriage, divorce, inheritance, and guardianship. However, it has acquired negative connotations in some Middle Eastern countries and is often criticized by conflating it with anti-religion and colonial intervention.
The etymology of the Arabic word for secularism can be controversial in itself. While some refer to ‘almaniyya which is derived from the word alam, suggesting that secularism is wordly, others prefer to think of ilmanniyya relating the word for secularism to the Arab word ilm (science, or knowledge). Some writers suggest another Arabic term ‘alamaniyya to avoid the confusion while others prefer dunyawiyya, meaning temporal, in contrast to dini (religious).
Many Muslims argue that, unlike Christianity, Islam does not separate religion from state and majority of Muslims around the world welcome a significant role for Islam in their countries' political life. It is apolitical Islam, not political Islam, that requires explanation and that is an historical fluke of the "shortlived heyday of secular Arab nationalism between 1945 and 1970."
In contrast, scholar Olivier Roy argues that "a defacto separation between political power" of sultans and emirs and religious power of the caliph was "created and institutionalized ... as early as the end of the first century of the hegira," what has been lacking in the Muslim world is "political thought regarding the autonomy of this space." No positive law was developed outside of sharia. The sovereign's religious function was to defend the Islamic community against its enemies, institute the sharia, ensure the public good (maslaha). The state was an instrument to enable Muslims to live as good Muslims and Muslims were to obey the sultan if he did so. The legitimacy of the ruler was "symbolized by the right to coin money and to have the Friday prayer (Jumu'ah khutba) said in his name." 
The concept of Secularism in Islam has been claimed to have religious sanction too. The Sahih of Imam Muslim, the second most authentic book on Hadith, dating from the second century Hijrah, contains a chapter headed as follows: “Whatever the Prophet has said in matters of religion must be followed, but this does not apply to worldly affairs.”
The Hadith is as follows: Once Prophet Muhammad came across some people doing artificial pollination of palm trees. Due to some reason he disliked the idea and commented that it would be better not to do any pollination at all. However for the following year the harvest was poor. When he came to know about this Prophet Muhammad admitted his limitation of knowledge regarding secular affairs and said: “If a question relates to your worldly matters you would know better about it, but if it relates to your religion then to me it belongs.”
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, the prominent Indian Muslim scholar, comments on this Hadith  : “Islam separated religious knowledge from physical knowledge. The source of religious knowledge which came into general acceptance was divine revelation (the authentic version of which is preserved in the form of the Quran), while full freedom was given to enquiry into physical phenomena, so that individuals could arrive at their own conclusions independently”.
He further says: “According to this hadith, Islam separates religious matters from scientific research. In religious affairs, there has to be strict adherence to divine guidance. But in scientific research, the work must proceed according to human experience.” For this reason definition of secularism in the Islamic perspective has been suggested as a separation of Religion and Science rather than Religion and State and the political view of Islam is even claimed to be secular, rather than Islamism
Secular governments had existed in the Muslim world since the 10th century. According to the scholar Ira M. Lapidus:
In fact, religious and political life developed distinct spheres of experience, with independent values, leaders, and organizations. From the middle of the tenth century effective control of the Arab-Muslim empire had passed into the hands of generals, administrators, governors, and local provincial lords; the Caliphs had lost all effective political power. Governments in Islamic lands were henceforth secular regimes - Sultanates - in theory
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