This past week, I joined 11 other medical students from the University of Chicago in volunteering at a Lakota Native American reservation in South Dakota. The experience was a great opportunity to not only learn about health care challenges on reservations, but also to reflect on the intersections between religion, service, and medicine.
It must be emphasized that true secularism is not opposed to religion, and a secular democratic state will not only eliminate ethnic and religious discrimination, such as pitting Shiites against Sunnis, but will also create the conditions for the religious people to practice their beliefs free of the government. Islam and secularism are completely compatible. In fact, a true "Islamic state" is not only unjustified, but also impossible to establish.