Somewhere in the Gobi desert lurks a wormlike creature so elusive that no one can fully describe its attributes properly. Some say it spews acid when threatened. Others allege that it dispenses electric charges, or even explodes at will. While it has not yet been proven to exist, the Mongolian death worm is nevertheless ‘real’ to many who live in that part of the world. Despite the multifarious, often fabulous accounts of this mythical animal, one thing that those who believe in it can agree on is its uncompromising lethalness. A similar paradox afflicts traditional Islamic discourse on the secular. It is a great many things to a great many thinkers: colonialism, Godlessness, and moral degradation, to name a few. Like the Mongolian death worm, those who believe in it can only imagine it as deadly.

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