30 mai 2006

James S. Cutsinger, C. S. Lewis as Apologist and Mystic, (note de lectura)

Lecture delivered for the Narnia Clubs of New York, December 1998.

James S. Cutsinger has the chance to know two Lewis’s friends: Baterfield and Martin Lings.

Owen Baterfield about Lewis: “Lewis taught me how to think, and I taught him what to think.”

Lewis about Baterfiels: “Barfield never made me an Anthroposophist but his counterattacks destroyed forever two elements in my own thought. The first was chronological snobbery, the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited. In the second place, Barfield convinced me that the positions we had hitherto held left no room for any satisfactory theory of knowledge. We had been, in the technical sense of the term, “realists”; that is, we accepted as rock-bottom reality the universe revealed by the senses. But at the same time we continued to make, for certain phenomena of consciousness, all the claims that really went with a theistic or idealistic view. We maintained that abstract thought (if obedient to logical rules) gave indisputable truth, that our moral judgment was “valid”, and our aesthetic experience not merely pleasing but “valuable”... Barfield convinced me that it was inconsistent. If thought were a purely subjective event, these claims for it would have to be abandoned... I was therefore compelled to give up realism... I must admit that mind was no late-come epiphenomenon; that the whole universe was, in the last resort, mental; that our logic was participation in a cosmic Logos.”

One day, Lewis exposed Boethius’s system of faculties: intellectus, ratio, imaginatio and sensus. Above all is intellectus, which is strictly a Divine prerogative. He also said to Martin Lings: “You are an intellectual. I am an imaginative man.” But it was just a testimony of Lewis’s great humility.

When an anthroposophist insisted on the importance of spiritual freedom as the aim of human life, Lewis responded: “I was not born to be free, I was born to adore and obey!”

“[...] in calling himself “an imaginative man” he was nonetheless describing a genuine mode of knowing God, no less profound in its way than its intellectual counterpart, and that in this doubtless casual remark to my friend Dr Lings, he was providing us with a critical insight into the quality of his own religious experience and into the nature of his work as a Christian apologist.”

The root of the apologetic work is: “Be always prepared to give a defense... of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). The english word “defense” is the translation of the greek “apologia”. This one is rooted in the term “logos”. “Apologia” is the act of responding to a request for one’s reason. But “apologia” means also the return of the Logos, the Source of reason itself.

The task of the Christian apologists was different from age to age. In the second century, In the second century, writers like St Justin the Martyr and Athenagoras the Philosopher could take for granted a common theism between themselves and their pagan audience. In the modern world, the situation is radically different, and the apologist can assume no such common ground. Lewis writes, “The gap between those who worship different gods is not so wide as that between those who worship and those who do not. [...] It is hard to have patience with those Jeremiahs, in press or pulpit, who warn us that we are “relapsing into Paganism”. It might be rather fun if we were. It would be pleasant to see some future Prime Minister trying to kill a large and lively milk-white bull in Westminster Hall. But we shan’t... A post-Christian man is not a Pagan; you might as well think that a married woman recovers her virginity by divorce.”

Lewis’s arguments in the problem of evil. Evil is a problem for the Christian because it seems to call into question either the power or the goodness of God. Take away God’s power, leaving Him less than omnipotent, and our sufferings become at once intelligible; they are simply the effects of a blind cosmic force too intense or extensive for God to manage. Alternatively, if you strip away the goodness of God then again our miseries make perfect sense; they are merely the delights of a cosmic vivisectionist. Question: If God is able to get rid of evil, as He surely is if He is powerful, and if He is willing to do so, as He surely is if He is good, then why for Heaven’s sake does He not?

St. Augustine said that the evil is the result of the free will.

Lewis’s answer: Christianity asserts that God is good; that He made all things good and for the sake of their goodness; that one of the good things He made, namely, the free will of rational creatures, by its very nature included the possibility of evil; and that creatures, availing themselves of this possibility, have become evil. Evil, in short, is the result of the Fall. All the suffering and horror of man’s present life in this world are to be traced to a misuse of his freedom.

C. S. Lewis said: “From the moment a creature becomes aware of God as God and of itself as a self, the terrible alternative of choosing God or self for the centre is opened to it.”

In St. Irineus’s and Origen’s works, suffering is not the consequence of the Fall, but a special aim of the Creator to provoke man’s spiritual growth.

Communication and commerce between fellow-creatures demand a medium which can bring them together while at the same time underscoring their individuality. This medium is what we call matter. It brings souls together, it creates pleasure, but also pain. “If matter has a fixed nature and obeys constant laws, not all states of matter will be equally agreeable to the wishes of a given soul, nor all equally beneficial for that particular aggregate of matter which he calls his body”.

Lewis said: “Try to exclude the possibility of suffering, and you find that you have excluded life itself.” Nevertheless, he insisted that God in His wisdom has contrived things in such a way as to make use of our suffering for our ultimate benefit.

What we naturally want is a celestial grandfather who will grant us a state of perpetual pleasure, whereas what God wants for us is resilience and moral courage, and He does not hesitate to provide us the challenges which the development of such virtues requires.

Lewis said: “The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word ‘love’, and look on things as if man were the centre of them”.

“The world can be explained without reference to God.” – this is the claim at the heart of the modern and post-modern worldview. Lewis said that if Naturalism is true, every finite thing and system must be explicable in terms of a Total System (evertything can be accounted for by physical causes only). This way, reason become completly inexplainable, because our capacity to draw valid conclusions from true premises is something which no physical cause can explain. Hence, Naturalism is not true, so supernaturalism must be true.

To be caused is different from being proved.

The naturalist standpoint is that we are what we are and we think what we think because we have been programmed so to be and to act by causes of a purely physical order. The problem is that for on a strictly materialistic or physiological basis, there is no difference between “yes” and “not”, so even the reason is beyond Nature.

Lewis say that every act of thinking which leads us to a genuine knowledge about reality involves a miraculous escape from the merely material.

Lewis compares the arrangement of the three Persons in one God to the combination of six squares in a cube.

Lewis said about the issue of faith and works: “I have no right really to speak on such a difficult question, but it does seem to me like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most necessary.”

“My belief is that Lewis had more than reasoned his way into thinking [...]. He had seen it, if only “through a glass darkly” (1 Cor 13:12), and he was at his very best as a writer in helping others enter into the same experience. Valuable as his discursive arguments are, it is the power of his imagination to awaken a like seeing in us that makes him, finally, so great an apologist.”

According to Barfield, modern man is distinguished by the fact that he is no longer aware of the constructive role of his mind, and he has therefore ended up freezing and fixing the objects of his consciousness as if they were givens, casting himself in the role of their passive observer.

The modern consciousness: “The realities which enter into us from God undivided, we first cut into parts, called percepts and concepts, or facts and thoughts, or matter and spirit. And then, rather than giving way to God’s gift in its wholeness so that the principles of things might enter the world still imbued with their glory, we permit only their bodies to pass, which are as it were the sensible or physical halves of God’s intentions, while at the same time we hoard their meanings inside us, clinging to the abstracted qualities of things and refusing to let them pass fully into the corresponding substances of living forms. Here, for Barfield, is where the imagination is meant to come in, as the necessary means of liberating man from this state of division and self-forgetfulness.”

Lewis said: “In their total effect, [images] mediate to me something very important. It is always something qualitative—more like an adjective than a noun. That, for me, gives it the impact of reality. For I think we respect nouns (and what they stand for) too much. All my deepest, and certainly all my earliest, experiences seem to be of sheer quality. The terrible and the lovely are older and solider than terrible and lovely things. . . . I know very well that in logic God is a “substance”. Yet my thirst for quality is authorized even here: “We give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory.” He is this glory. What He is (the quality) is no abstraction from Him.”

For Lewis, every aesthetic experience seems to have served as a medium for a contact with God.

Lewis said: “I haven’t any language weak enough to depict the weakness of my spiritual life.”

Aphorism said by Barfield: “He who knows not and knows not that he knows not is a fool. Leave him. He who knows not and knows that he knows not is a student. Teach him. He who knows and knows not that he knows is an artist. Watch him. He who knows and knows that he knows is a teacher. Follow him.” Lewis said he’s an “imaginative man”, and this correspond to the artist.

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28 mai 2006

René Guénon, Orient si Occident, (breviar de idei)

Apãrut la Editions de la Maisnie, 1987, Paris.

01. Atât timp cât occidentalii îsi vor imagina cã nu existã decât un singur tip de umanitate, o singurã “civilizatie” cu diverse grade de dezvoltare, nici o întelegere între Orient si Occident nu va fi cu putintã.

02. Civilizatia occidentalã modernã apare în istorie ca o adevãratã anomalie: printre toate cele cunoscute mai mult sau mai putin, aceasta este singura care s-a dezvoltat într-un sens pur material, înregistrând concomitent regresul intelectual corespunzãtor.

03. Existã un dispret occidental vizibil pentru civilizatiile orientale, ca si pentru evul mediu european.

04. Pentru occidentali, stiinta meritã luatã în considerare doar dacã este susceptibilã sã dea nastere la aplicatii industriale.

05. Principala eroare a lui Descartes este cea de a limita inteligenta la simpla ratiune, si de a asigna fizicii rolul pe care îl detine metafizica.

06. Rationalismul, incapabil sã se ridice la adevãrul absolut, lasã cel putin sã subziste un adevãr relativ. Intuitionismul contemporan coboarã acest adevãr rezidual la simpla reprezentare a realitãtii sensibile, în tot ce are aceasta inconsistent si perpetuu schimbãtor. În cele din urmã, pragmatismul sfârseste prin a evacua notiunea de adevãr identificând-o cu cea de utilitate.

07. În lumea modernã problema Adevãrului a dispãrut. Totul este reglat fãcându-se apel la aplicatiile industriale si la moralã, douã domenii care se pot lipsi de Adevãr.

08. Cuvântul „civilizatie” nu are mai mult de un secol si jumãtate de existentã. El s-a rãspândit în secolul XIX din cauza noilor idei ale modernitãtii. Cel care a numit perioada contemporanã „civilizatie” este utopistul Fourier, tot el a confundat ideea de civilizatie cu vârsta modernã... Totusi, în mod obiectiv, nimeni nu a definit niciodatã termenul de „civilizatie”.

09. Ideea de „civilizatie” este în conexiune cu cea de „progres”, ambele datând din a doua jumãtate a secolului al XVIII-lea, adicã în aceeasi epocã în care se naste ideologia materialistã.

10. Istoria adevãratã ar putea fi foarte periculoasã pentru anumite interese, si acesta este motivul pentru care anumite metode de construire a istoriei s-au impus în mod oficial, excluzându-le pe toate celelalte. În mod constient sau nu, s-a îndepãrtat a priori tot ceea ce ar permite sã se vadã clar anumite lucruri, si asa s-a format „opinia publicã”.

11. În realitate, nu existã nici o obligatie ca o civilizatie sã progreseze indefinit, existã o alternare a progresului si a regresului, ba chiar cele douã pot coexista în domenii diferite. Eroarea progresului continuu, enuntatã de Pascal si Bacon, este contrazisã de realitatea civilizatiilor care mor fãrã sã-si fi transmis cunostintele.

12. Cuvintele „Progres” si „Civilizatie”, rostite cu majusculã, fac un efect nemaipomenit în anumite fraze goale, declamate pentru a impresiona multimea, pentru care cuvântele servesc mai putin pentru exprimarea gândirii cât pentru suplinirea absentei ei. Cele douã vocabule în cauzã au fãcut si constituie sã facã parte din discursurile oamenilor politici contemporani, contribuind astfel la formidabila operã de (auto)sugestionare care este modernitatea.

13. Modernitatea este o halucinatie colectivã, prin care o parte a umanitãtii a ajuns sã considere cele mai vane himere drept realitãti incontestabile.

14. Prejudecata clasicã: occidentalii, începând cu renasterea, a luat obiceiul de a se considera mostenitorii si continuatorii antichitãtii greco-romane, ignorând cu desãvârsire restul umanitãtii. Conform lui Pascal, „lumea” începe cu grecii, continuã cu romanii, ia o pauzã în evul mediu, dupã care se reia în renastere. În nici un moment „lumea” nu înglobeazã pe altcineva decât popoarele Europei occidentale.

15. Psihologia modernã analizeazã un singur tip uman: occidentalul modern. Apoi extinde concluziile ei la ansamblul umanitãtii.

16. „Evolutie” este un alt nume pentru dogma modernã a „progresului”.

17. Stiinta se reduce pentru moderni la operatiunile cele mai elementare ale ratiunii, cele care rãmân în strânsã legãturã cu lumea sensibilã din care si-au fãcut câmpul unic si exclusiv de manifestare.

18. Existã o relatie inversã între dezvoltarea materialã si intelectualitatea purã, una o eliminã pe cealaltã.

19. Opozitia sentimentalitate – materialism nu rezolvã problema. În fapt, materialismul si sentimentalitatea sunt departe de a se opune reciproc, iar cea mai bunã probã este America, unde cele mai rele extravagante sentimentaloide coiexistã cu o pasiune pentru „afaceri” împinsã la un grad care se învecineazã cu nebunia.

20. Materialismul si sentimentalitatea nu constitue un echilibru, ci aditionarea a douã forme de dezechilibru.

21. Nu existenta progresului material trebuie contestatã, ci importanta lui.

22. În fond, credinta într-un progres indefinit este cea mai naivã si cea mai grosolanã formã de „optimism”. Oricare i-ar fi modalitãtile, ea este întotdeauna de esentã sentimentalã.

23. Lumea modernã a inversat raporturile naturale dintre diversele ordine ale lucrurilor: diminuarea intelectualitãtii pure (pânã la absentã), cãreia i se adaugã exagerarea nivelului material si sentimental, toate acestea fac din civilizatia occidentalã actualã o monstruozitate.

24. Occidentalii au tendinta de a-i judeca pe altii în functie de punctele lor de vedere, împrumutându-le preocupãrile si modurile lor de a gândi.

25. Stiinta occidentalã este analizã si dispersie. Cunoasterea orientalã este sintezã si concentrare.

26. În numele „libertãtii”, americanii vor sã constrângã pe toatã lumea sã-i imite.

27. Ceea ce occidentalii numesc „progres”, este pentru orientali numai schimbare si instabilitate. Or, nevoia de schimbare, atât de caracteristicã epocii moderne, este în ochii celor din urmã marca unei inferioritãti manifeste. Cel care a ajuns la o stare de echilibru nu mai are nevoie de asa ceva, la fel cum cel care stie nu mai cautã.

28. Nimic nu este mai contrariu naturii orientale decât propaganda.

29. „Stiinta”, cu majusculã, ca si „Progresul”, „Civilizatia”, „Dreptul”, „Justitia” si „Libertatea”, este încã una dintre entitãtile imposibil de definit, si care riscã sã-si piardã orice prestigiu imediat ce este examinatã cu atentie. Toate „cuceririle” de care este mândrã lumea modernã se reduc la cuvinte mari îndãrãtul cãrora nu e mare lucru – sugestie colectivã, iluzie în masã lipsitã de spontaneitate.

30. „Stiinta”, „Progresul”, „Civilizatia” etc., sunt veritabilii idoli ai unei religii laice, a cãrei existentã nu poate fi pusã la îndoialã.

31. Termenul „liber examen” semnificã în practicã suprimarea oricãrui principiu superior în gândire.

32. „Toleranta” este indiferenta cu privire la adevãr si la eroare. Toleranta practicã se exercitã în privinta indivizilor, si ea nu este blamabilã, dar toleranta teoreticã, care pretinde sã se exercite în privinta ideilor si sã le recunoascã tuturor aceleasi drepturi, este menitã sã trezeascã celui avizat un scepticism radical. Este imposibil sã nu constati cã, dintre toti propagandistii, apostolii tolerantei sunt în practicã cei mai intoleranti dintre oameni.

33. Stiinta occidentalã este o cunoastere ignorantã. Este o cunoastere iremediabil limitatã, ignorând esentialul, o cunoastere lipsitã de principiu, ca tot ceea ce apartine civilizatiei moderne.

34. Stiinta modernã este nevoitã sã nege tot ceea ce ignorã, acesta fiind singurul mod de a nu-si mãrturisi ignoranta. Ea se considerã independentã si autonomã, iar pentru asta trebuie sã nege orice aspect superior si sacru.

35. Metafizica este cunoasterea intelectualã purã si transcendentã. Metafizica este cunoasterea principiilor de ordin universal, de care depind toate în mod necesar, fie direct, fie indirect.

36. Trãsãturile gândirii moderne sunt:
- absenta completã a cunoasterii metafizice;
- negarea oricãrui alt fel de cunoastere decât cea stiintificã;
- limitarea arbitrarã a cunoasterii stiintifice însesi la anumite domenii particulare, excluzând altele.

37. Orice cunoastere din care metafizica este absentã, câstigã în independentã (de fapt, nu de drept), dar pierde în profunzime si în importantã. Stiinta occidentalã este una de suprafatã, ea se disperseazã în multiplicitatea aspectelor exterioare.

38. Metoda care pretinde cã ajunge la sintezã în urma unei analize este falsã. Superiorul nu se poate obtine din inferior, iar sintezele astfel „obtinute” nu pot fi decât ipotetice. Adevãrata sintezã pleacã din principii, din cele adevãrate, si nu din ipotezele stiintifice.

39. Stiintele, chiar cele experimentale, au în Orient o bazã traditionalã. Contrariu a ceea ce se petrece în Occident, ele sunt întotdeauna conectate la anumite principii. Astfel, ele studiazã lucrurile contingente ca fiind consecintele si manifestãrile exterioare a ceva ce e de alt ordin.

40. Stiinta occidentalã modernã este în perfectã armonie cu nevoile unei civilizatii pur materiale.

41. Confuzie modernã: se numeste „stiintã” ceea ce este de fapt „industrie”; se desemneazã sub numele de „savant” ceea ce de fapt este un inginer, un inventator sau un constructor de masini.

42. Propaganda si vulgarizarea nu sunt posibile decât în detrimentul adevãrului. A pretinde se aduce ceva „la îndemâna tuturor” înseamnã în mod necesar o diminuare si o deformare, cãci este imposibil de admis cã toti oamenii sunt capabili sã înteleagã orice.

43. Dorinta vulgarizãrii face ca toate conceptiile stiintifice si filosofice ale epocii moderne sã parã mai mediocre decât sunt de fapt.

44. Învãtãmântul european conduce la anarhie si al dezordine. Rezultatul lui este o semi-stiintã dobânditã în urma lecturilor vulgarizatoare, cu mult mai nefastã decât ignoranta purã si simplã. Ignorantul are cel putin posibilitatea de a învãta dacã ocazia i se oferã, el poate încã sã posede un oarecare „bun simt” natural, cãruia i se adaucã constiinta incompetentei sale. Omul care, dimpotrivã, a primit o jumãtate de instructie, are aproape întotdeauna o mentalitate deformatã, iar ceea ce crede cã stie îi dã o asemenea suficientã încât crede cã poate vorbi despre orice fãrã distinctie. O si face oricând si oricum, cu atât mai mare facilitate cu cât este mai incompetent. Totul i se pare simplu celui ce nu stie nimic...

45. În ochii orientalilor, studiul a ceva ce nu impune nici o calificare deosebitã nu poate avea o mare valoare, si nu ar putea contine nimic cu adevãrat profund.

46. Cele douã forme prin care a proliferat propaganda „stiintificã” sunt: a) instructia obligatorie si b) vulgarizarea.

47. „Egalitatea” se reduce pentru occidentali la uniformitate.

48. Orgoliul, ca si umilinta, sunt lucruri occidentale. Umilinta ascunde si ea un oarecare orgoliu, pentru cã pleacã de la presupunerea cã omul ar avea o superioritate care în fapt îi lipseste.

49. Civilizatiile orientale participã la imutabilitatea principiilor. Atunci când se schimbã, este vorba doar de adaptare. Civilizatia occidentalã este lipsitã de principiu, si din aceastã cauzã ea este eminamente schimbãtoare.

50. Occidentalul modern apare ca fiind esentialmente schimbãtor si inconstant, destinat unei miscãri fãrã oprire si unei agitatii neîncetate. Starea lui este cea a unei fiinte care nu poate ajunge sã-si gãseascã echilibrul, dar care refuzã chiar sã admitã cã acest lucru este posibil. Ceea ce el numeste în fond „progres” este schimbarea în care se complace, care nu conduce la nimic si pe care o iubeste pentru ea însãsi, ca si cum ar fi suficient sã mergi într-o directie oarecare pentru a avansa în mod sigur.

51. Este frapant gustul occidentalilor pentru cercetarea fãrã finalitate, de dragul cercetãrii.

52. Occidentalii numesc „moarte” tot ceea ce constituie o finalitate definitivã, la fel cum numesc „viatã” tot ceea ce este agitatie sterilã.

53. Problemele filosofiei moderne existã numai pentru cã sunt prost puse, se nasc si subzistã numai din cauza unor echivocuri întretinute cu grijã.

54. Denuntarea sentimentalismului nu înseamnã negarea sentimentalitãtiii, la fel cum denuntarea rationalismului nu este totuna cu negarea ratiunii. Sentimentalismul si rationalismul nu reprezintã decât niste forme de abuz ale unor tendinte firesti, însã complet scãpate de sub control.

55. Grecii antici erau incapabili sã se elibereze de formã; modernii par mai ales inapti sã se degajeze de materie.

56. Filosofia pragmaticã neagã adevãrul din cauza inutilitãtii sale imediate.

57. Teoria extrem-orientalã a non-actiunii nu este accesibilã mentalitãtii occidentale, pentru cã nu este conceptibil pentru un occidental obisnuit cã cineva s-ar putea elibera de actiune.

58. Moralismul nu este decât o altã formã a sentimenalismului.

59. Morala, oricare ar fi baza ce i se dã, si oricare ar fi importanta ce i se atribuie, nu este decât o regulã de actiune. Pentru cei care nu se intereseazã decât de actiune, este evident cã ea trebuie sã joace un rol primordial, si ei o pretuiesc cu atât mai mult cu cât consideratiile de acest ordin pot da iluzia gândirii într-o perioadã de decadentã intelectualã.

60. Degenerescenta ideii religioase în sectele protestante se manifestã prin reductia elementului doctrinal în avantajul profitului elementului moral sau sentimental. În cele din urmã, religiei se substituie religiozitatea, adicã o aspiratie sentimentalã mai mult sau mai putin vagã si inconsistentã.

61. Superstitia este, etimologic, un lucru care si-a supravietuit siesi, ajungând în situatia în care si-a pierdut adevãrata ratiune de a fi.

62. O idee purã nu are nici un raport imediat cu domeniul actiunii, si nu poate avea asupra exteriorului influenta directã pe care o exercitã sentimentul.

63. Dacã orientalul poate suporta cu rãbdare dominatia materialã a Occidentului, este pentru cã nu ignorã relativitatea lucrurilor tranzitorii, si pentru cã poartã, în profunzimile fiintei sale, constiinta eternitãtii.

64. Occidentalii, în ciuda opiniei exacerbate pe care o au despre ei însisi si de civilizatia lor, simt bine cã dominatia lor asupra restului lumii este departe de a fi asiguratã într-un mod definitiv, si cã ea poate fi pradã evenimentelor pe care este imposibil sã le prevadã, si cu atât mai mult sã le împiedice.

65. Cel mai mare pericol pentru Occident este Occidentul însusi. În punctul în care au ajuns lucrurile acum, nu este nevoie de multã imaginatie pentru a anticipa o distrugere a Occidentului prin propriile sale mijloace, fie printr-un rãzboi gigantic, fie prin efectele neprevãzute ale unei manipulãri neîndemânatice.

66. Occidentul, care se crede etern, uitã cã nu avea nici o existentã istoricã într-o epocã în care civilizatiile orientale îsi atinseserã dezvoltarea deplinã. În ochii orientalilor, el trebuie sã aparã ca un copil care, mândru cã a dobândit rapid niste cunostinte rudimentare, se crede în posesia unei cunoasteri totale si ar dori sã-i instruiascã pe niste bãtrâni plini de întelepciune si experientã.

67. Adevãratul pericol pe care îl reprezintã Occidentul este utilizarea pe care o dã fortei brute. În rest, nu existã riscul unei „asimilãri”, pe care occidentalii sunt perfect incapabili s-o realizeze, fiind inferiori atât intelectual cât si fizic.

68. Toate superioritãtile cu care se laudã Occidentalii sunt pur imaginare, cu exceptia simplei superioritãti materiale. Nimeni nu o poate constata, dar nici nu meritã sã fie invidiatã.

69. Atunci când o natiune europeanã acapareazã o tarã oarecare, ea cautã sã-i facã pe toti sã creadã cã este pentru plãcerea sau onoarea de a-i „civiliza” pe învinsi. Cel care crede acest lucru trebuie sã fie naiv pentru a nu-si da seama cã motivul se aflã în speranta unor profituri cu mult mai tangibile. Occidentul nu tolereazã ca niste oameni sã continue sã trãiascã dupã cutumele lor, si cum cuvântul „exploatare” sunã rãu, se foloseste în limbajul modern expresia „a pune în valoare”. Simpla schimbare a vocabulei nu mai jigneste sensibilitatea comunã.

70. Printr-o ciudatã stare de spirit, oamenii care vorbesc fãrã încetare de „drept” si de „libertate” sunt exact cei care neagã altor civilizatii decât a lor dreptul la o existentã independentã.

71. Comunismul nu a fost o atitudine occidentalã, chiar dacã rusii posedau câteva trãsãturi orientale. Comunismul a fost si el o purã formã a modernismului.

72. Diversitatea civilizatiilor, care a existat dintotdeauna, este consecinta naturalã a diferentelor mentale care caracterizeazã rasele.

73. O civilizatie normalã, în sensul exact al cuvântului, va putea întotdeauna sã se dezvolte fãrã sã fie un pericol pentru celelalte civilizatii. Fiind constientã de locul exact pe care trebuie sã-l ocupe în ansamblul umanitãtii terestre, va stie sã si-l pãstreze fãrã sã creeze nici un antagonism.

74. Douã semne ale tendintelor antitraditionale sunt: a) fascinatia pentru nou si b) cãutarea originalitãtii.

75. Prozelitismul este semnul predominantei sentimentalismului în detrimentul puritãtii.

76. Pentru un oriental avizat asupra traditiei sale, filosofia europeanã, cu încercãrile ei de explicatie, cu delimitãrile ei arbitrare, cu subtilitãtile ei inutile, cu confuziile ei neîncetate, cu discutiile ei fãrã scop si cu verbiajul ei fãrã consistentã, îî apare ca un joc deosebit de pueril.

77. Productiile orientalistilor, prin neîntelegerea etalatã în ele, a oferit cea mai supãrãtoare probã a incapacitãtii pe care o au occidentalii de a întelege Orientul.

78. Majoritatea orientalistilor nu sunt decât niste eruditi. Or, eruditia nu este decât o miopie intelectualã care limiteazã orice formã de cunoastere la niste cãutãri de detaliu.

79. Adevãrul este cã nici o conceptie orientalã nu este „pesimistã”, cum nu este nici „optimistã”. Pentru a înfãtisa lucrurile astfel este nevoie de sentimentalismul occidental. Seninãtatea profundã pe care o dã hindusilor pura contemplatie intelectualã este dincolo de aceste contingente.

80. Occidentalii au cãutat mai putin sã înteleagã doctrinele orientale cât sã le reducã la propriile conceptii, ceea ce este totuna cu a le denatura complet.

81. În Occident sunt numite „principii” legile stiintifice ceva mai generale decât altele, care nu sunt în realitate decât concluzii si rezultate inductive, dacã nu simple ipoteze. Mai sunt numite „principii” si opiniile morale cu bazã sentimentalã.

82. În Occident, cuvântul „principiu”, ca si cuvântul „traditie”, se aplicã la tot si la nimic îndeosebi. De asemeni, cuvântul „religie” se regãseste în combinatii ca „religia patriei”, „religia datoriei”, „religia stiintei”.

83. Egalitarismul democratic nu este decât consecinta si manifestarea, în ordinea socialã, a anarhiei intelectuale.

84. Intelectualitatea fiind suprimatã, fiecare domeniu este privit în Occident ca fiind independent. Raporturile naturale sunt pervertite, ceea ce ar trebui sã fie subordonat se afirmã a fi autonom, orice ierarhie este abolitã în numele unei himerice egalitãti, atât în ordinea mentalã cât si în cea socialã. Si, cum egalitatea este imposibilã în fapt, se creazã false ierarhii, în cadrul cãrora locul principal este ocupat de orice: stiintã, industrie, moralã, politicã sau finantã.

85. Stiintele occidentale se ocupã de cantitatea rezultatelor, fãrã nici o atentie la calitate.

86. Stiinta si filosofia occidentalã sunt douã forme de sinucidere a inteligentei.

87. Civilizatia occidentalã a evului mediu avea un caracter traditional. Ceea ce azi îi seamãnã cel mai mult este civilizatia islamicã.

88. Existã mai multe resurse într-un ignorant decât în cel care s-a specializat într-un nivel de studii esentialmente limitate, si care a suferit deformarea inerentã acestui tip de educatie. Ignorantul poate avea în el posibilitãti de întelegere cãrora le-a lipsit ocazia sã se dezvolte.

89. Tot ceea ce tine de nivelul metafizic este susceptibil sã deschidã orizonturi nelimitate. Aceastã afirmatie trebuie înteleasã literal, ca o consecintã imediatã a universalitãtii însesi a principiilor. Pe lângã metafizicã, toate celelalte exercitii intelectuale sunt jocuri de copii. Din aceastã cauzã, cei care nu posedã calificarea necesarã pentru a o întelege se retrag imediat ce intrã în contact cu ea: adevãratele mistere se apãrã singure împotriva oricãrei curiozitãti profane, natura lor fiind o garantie împotriva oricãrei atingeri a prostiei umane.

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M. M. Sharif, The Philosophical Interpretation Of History, (full text)

When we discuss the philosophy of history, the content of our topic is philosophical and not sociological. Sociology deals with human relations and the forces that determine the laws that govern and the phenomena that arise from these relations from time to time. The sociologist attempts to discover the effects of such forces as heredity, climate, race, instinct, means of production and ideas. He tries to study the specific characteristics, repeated features and constant relations of the lives of individual groups: specific characteristics such as modes and customs, repeated features like rises and falls, conflicts, cycles, isolation, interaction, imitation, migration and mobility; causal correlations such as those that hold between climate and culture, technology and fine arts, city life and criminality, scarcity and suicide, forms of religious and political organisations. The philosopher of history is not concerned with these details of group life; nor does he study the history of the individual groups and specific questions relating to them as ends in themselves. From these fields he only collects material for the solution of his main problems. He is concerned mainly with the life course of humankind as a whole, and his chief problem is the determination of the nature of change in the history of man. His second question relates to the law of change in the lives of individual groups, civilisations or cultures. Thus, his first question is that of the dynamics and destiny of man; and, second, the dynamics and destiny of groups of men. It is to these questions that I mainly devote main attention.

The 20th century philosophies of history are more sociological than philosophical. This turn in the philosophy of history has its advantages as well as disadvantages. Its main advantage consists in a collection of vast material on which a philosophy of history can be based. Its main disadvantage lies in the narrowness of outlook which often goes with work in narrow fields.

Some 20th century philosophers of history such as Paul Ligeti, Frank Chambers and Charles Lalo confine themselves to the study of art phenomena and draw conclusions about the dynamics of culture in general. Their conclusions which touch the two philosophical questions stated above are:

1. That art forms, like waves in the ocean, rise, develop and decline.

2. That the tidal ebb and flow of art in general is an index of the tidal waves of human culture in general and individual cultures in particular.

3. That side by side with these larger waves there arise, so to say, ‘surface ripples’ or shorter waves within the same art form corresponding to smaller changes in social cultures.

These conclusions I readily accept. But these thinkers advance another hypothesis which to me does not seem true. According to most of them, it is always the same art and the same type or style of art which rises at one stage in the life history of each culture: one art or art form at its dawn, another at its maturity and yet another at its decline, when gradually both art and the corresponding culture die. I do not accept this conclusion. The life history of Greek art is not identical with that of European art or Hindu or Muslim art. In some cultures, like the Egyptian, Chinese, Hindu and Muslim, it was literature which blossomed before any other art; in some others such as the French, German and English, it was architecture; and in the culture of the Greeks it was music. The art of the Palaeolithic people reached a maturity and artistic perfection which did not correspond to their stage of culture. In some cultures, as the Egyptian, art shows several waves, several ups and downs, rather than one cycle of birth, maturity and decline. Unlike most other cultures, Muslim culture has given no place to sculpture, and its music has risen simultaneously with its architecture. Thus it is not true that the sequence of the rise of different arts is the same in all cultures. Nor is it true that the same sequence appears in the style of each art in every culture. Facts do not support this thesis, for the earliest style of art in some cultures is symbolic, in others naturalistic, formal, impressionistic or expressionistic.

There is a group of 20th century philosophers of history who view a society or culture as an organism which has only one life cycle. Like the life of any individual organism, the life of a culture has its childhood, maturity, old age and death; its spring, summer, winter and autumn. Just as a living organism cannot be revived after its death, even so a culture or a society can not be revived once it is dead. Biological, geographical and racial causes can to a limited extent influence its life course, but cannot change its inevitable cycle. They agree with the aestheticians whose position I have just discussed that social history is like a wave, it has a rise and then it falls never to rise again. To this group belong Danilevsky, Spengler and Toynbee. The view that the dynamism of society is like the dynamism of a wave we have already accepted; but are the two other doctrines expounded by these philosophers equally true? First, is it true that a given society is a living organism and, second, that it has only one unrepeated life course? Let us take the first. Is a society or a culture an organism? Long ago, Plato took a state to be an individual writ large. A similar mistake now is being made. All analogies are true only up to a point and not beyond that. To view a society on the analogy of an individual organism is definitely wrong. No society is so completely unified into an organic whole that it should be viewed as an organism.

An individual organism is born; it grows and dies, and its species is perpetuated by reproduction: but a culture cannot repeat itself in the species by reproduction. Revival of an individual organism is impossible, but the revival of a culture by the infusion of new events is possible. Each individual organism is a completely integrated whole or a complete Gestalt, but though such an integration is an ideal of each culture, it has never been achieved by any culture. Each culture is a super-system consisting of some large systems such as religion, language, law, philosophy, science, fine arts, ethics, economics, technology, politics, territorial sway, associations, customs and mores. Each of these consists of smaller systems, as science includes physics, chemistry, biology, zoology, etc., and each of these smaller systems is comprised of yet smaller systems, as mathematics is comprised of geometry, algebra and arithmetic, and so on. Besides these systems, there are partly connected or wholly isolated congeries, unorganised heaps within these systems and super-systems. Thus, "a total culture of any organised group consists not of one cultural system but of a multitude of vast and small cultural systems that are partly in harmony, partly out of harmony, with one another, and in addition many congeries of various kinds."

So much about the organismic side of the theory of Danilevsky, Spengler and Toynbee. What about its cyclical side? Is the life of a culture like that of a meteor, beginning, rising, falling and then disappearing for ever? Does the history of a society or a culture see only one spring, one summer and one autumn and then in its winter it is completely closed? These thinkers concede that the length of each period may be different with different peoples and cultures, but, according to them, the cycle is just one moving curve or one wave that rises and falls only once. This position also seems to be wrong. As the researches of Kroeber and Sorokin have conclusively shown, "Many great cultural or social systems or civilisations have many cycles, many social, intellectual and political ups and downs in their virtually indefinitely long span of life, instead of just a life cycle, one period of blossoming and one of the decline. In the dynamics of intellectual and aesthetic creativity, Egyptian civilisation rose and fell at least four times, Graeco-Roman-Byzantine culture several times. Similarly, China and India had two big creative impulses; Japan and Germany, four; France and England, three; and their economico-political rise did not coincide with the course of their intellectual activity."

This shows that there is "no universal law decreeing that every culture, having once flowered, must wither without any chance of flowering." A culture may rise in one field at one time, in another field at another, and thus as a whole see many rises and falls. If by the birth of a civilisation these writers mean a sudden appearance of a total unit like that of an organism, and by death a total disintegration, then a total culture is never born, nor does it ever die. At its so-called birth each culture takes over living systems or parts of a preceding culture and integrates them with newly born items. Again, to talk about the death or disappearance of a culture or civilisation is meaningless. A part of a total culture, its art or its religion, may disappear, but a considerable part of it is always taken over by other groups by whom it is often developed further and expanded. States are born and they die; but cultures like the mingled waters of different waves are never born as organisms, nor do they die as organisms. Ancient Greece as a state died, but after its death a great deal of Greek culture spread far and wide and is still living as an important element in the cultures of Europe. Jewish states ceased to exist, but much of Jewish culture was taken over by Christianity and Islam. No culture dies in toto, though all die in parts. In respect of those parts of culture which live, each culture is immortal. Each culture or civilisation emerges gradually from pre-existing cultures. As a whole it may have several peaks, may see many ups and downs and thus flourish for millennia, decline into a latent existence, re-emerge and again become dominant for a certain period and then decline once more to appear again. Even when dominated by other cultures a considerable part of it may live as an element fully or partly integrated in those cultures.

Again, the cycle of birth, maturity, decline and death can be determined by the determination of the life-span of a civilisation, but there is no agreement of these writers on this point. What according to Danilevsky is one civilisation, say, the ancient Semitic civilisation, is treated by Toynbee as three civilisations, the Babylonian, Hittite and Sumeric, and by Spengler as two, the Magian and Babylonian. In the life history of a people one notices one birth-and-death sequence, the other two, the third three. The births and deaths of cultures seen by one writer are not noticed at all by the others. When the beginning and end of a culture cannot be determined, it is extravagant to talk about its birth and death and its unrepeatable cycle. A civilisation can see many ups and downs and there is nothing against the possibility of its regeneration. No culture dies completely. Some elements of each die out and others merge as living factors in other cultures.

Another group of 19th century philosophers of history avoid these pitfalls and give an integral interpretation of history. To this group belong Northrop, Kroeber, Schubart, Berdyaev, Schweitzer and Sorokin. Northrop, however, weakens his position by basing cultural systems on philosophies and philosophies on science. He ignores the fact that many cultural beliefs are based on revelations or intuitive apprehensions. Jewish, Muslim and Hindu cultures have philosophies based on revelation as much as reason. The source of some social beliefs may even be irrational and non-rational, often contradicting scientific theories. Kroeber’s weakness consists in making the number of geniuses rather than the number of achievements the criterion of cultural maturity. Schweitzer rightly contends that each flourishing civilisation has a minimum of ethical values vigorously functioning, and the decay of ethical values is the decay of civilisations.

Whatever their differences in other matters, in one thing the 20th century philosophers of history are unanimous, and that is in their denunciation of ‘progress’. I associate myself with them in this. Just as in biology progress has been explained by a trend from lower to higher or from less perfect to more perfect, or from less differentiated and integrated to more differentiated and integrated, similarly, Herder, Fichte, Kant and Hegel and almost all the philosophers of the 18th and 19th centuries explained the evolution of human society by one principle, one social trend, and their theories were thus stamped with the linear law of progress. The present day writers’ criticism of them is perfectly justified against viewing progress as a line, ascending straight or spirally, whether it is Fichte’s line advancing as a sequence of certain values or Herder’s and Kant’s from violence and war to justice and peace, or Hegel’s to ever-increasing freedom of the idea, or Spencer’s to greater differentiation and integration, or Tonnie’s advancing from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft, or Durkheim’s from a state of society based on mechanical solidarity to organic solidarity, or Buckle’s from diminishing influence of physical laws to an increasing influence of mental laws, or Navicow’s from physiological determination to purely intellectual competition, or any other line of a single principle explaining the evolution of human society as a whole. Everyone of the 18th and 19th century thinkers understood history as if it were identical with Western history. They viewed history as one straight line of events moving across the Western world. They divided this line into three periods, ancient, medieval and modern, and lumped together Egyptian, Indian, Chinese, Babylonian, Iranian, Greek and Roman civilisations, each of which had passed through several stages of development, into one group of ancient history. Histories of other civilisations and peoples did not count, except for those events which could be easily linked with the chain of events in the history of the West. Toynbee justly describes this conception as an egocentric illusion; his view is shared by all recent philosophers of history.

Every civilisation has a history of its own and each has its own ancient, medieval and modern periods. In most cases these periods are not identical with the ancient, medieval and modern periods of the Western culture starting from the Greek. Several cultures preceded Western culture and some starting earlier are contemporaneous with it. They cannot be thrown into oblivion because they cannot be placed in the three periods of the cultures of the West: ancient, medieval and modern. Western culture is not the measure of all humanity and its achievements. One cannot measure other cultures and civilisations or the whole of history by the three-knotted yardstick of progress in the West. Humankind consists of a number of great and small countries each having its own drama, its own language, its own ideas, its own passions, its own customs and habits, its own possibilities, its own goals and its own life-course. If it must be represented lineally, it would not be one line but several lines or rather bands of variegated and constantly changing colours, reflecting one another’s life and merging into one another.

Turning to the logic of historys, a controversy has gone on for a long time about the laws that govern historical sequences. Vico in the 18th century contended, under the deep impression of the lawfulness prevailing in natural sciences, that historical events also follow each other according to the unswerving laws of Nature. The law of mechanical causality is universal in its sway. The same view was held by Saint Simon, Herbert Spencer, Karl Marx and in recent times by Mandelbaum and Wiener. On the other hand, idealists like Max Weber, Windleband and Rickert are of the view that the objects of history are not units with universal qualities, but unique unrepeatable events in a particular space and a specific time. Therefore, no physical laws can be formed about them. Historical events are undoubtedly exposed to influences from biological, geological, geographical and racial forces; yet they are always carried by human beings who use and surmount these forces. Mechanical laws relate to facts, whereas historical events relate to values. Therefore, the historical order of law is different from the physical law of mechanical causation. To me it seems that both groups go to extremes. The empiricists take no account of the freedom of the will and the resolves, choices, and goals of human beings; the idealists forget that even human beings are not minds, but body-minds, and though they initiate events from their own internal sources, they place them in the chain of mechanical causality. It is true that historical events and the lives of civilisation and culture follow each other according to the inner laws of their own nature. Yet history consists in moral, intellectual and aesthetic achievements based on resolute choices using causation -- a Divine gift -- as a tool, now obeying and now revolting against divine will working within them and in the world around them, now cooperating and now fighting with one another, now falling and now rising, and thus carving out their own destinies.

Skipping over several important issues we come to the views of two philosophers whose thought has had great influence on the development of philosophy of history, namely Hegel and Marx. As is well known, Hegel is a dialectical idealist for whom the whole world is the development of the idea, a rational entity. It advances by posing itself as a thesis, and develops from itself its own opposite or antithesis. The two ideas, instead of constantly remaining at war, unite in an idea which is the synthesis of both and becomes the thesis for another triad. Thus triad after triad takes the world to even higher reaches of progress. The historical process is thus a process of antagonisms and reconciliations. The idea divides itself into the ‘idea in itself’ (the world of history) and the ‘idea in its otherness’ (the world as nature). Hegel’s division of the world into watertight compartments has vitiated the thought of several of his successors, Rickert, Windleband and Spengler and even Bergson. If electrons, amoeba, fleas, fish and apes begin to speak, they can reasonably ask why, born of the same cosmic energy, determined by the same laws, and having the same limited freedom, they should be supposed to be mere nature having no history. To divide the world-stuff into nature and history is unwarranted; history consists of sequences of groups of events. We have learned since Einstein that objects in nature are also groups of events with no essential difference between the nature and history. The only difference is that up to a certain stage there is no learning by experience; beyond that there is. According to Hegel, the linear progress of the Idea or Intelligence in winning rational freedom culminates in the State, the best example of which is the German State. Such a line of thought justifies internal tyranny, external aggression and wars between states. It finds no place in the historical process for world organisations like the UN or the World Bank and is falsified by the factual existence of such institutions in the present stage of world history. Intelligence is really only one aspect of the human mind, and there seems to be no ground for regarding this one knowing aspect, or only one kind of world-stuff, i.e., humankind, to be the essence of the world-stuff.

The mind of one who rejects Hegel’s idealism at once turns to Marx. Marxian dialectic is exactly the same as Hegel’s, though the world-stuff is not the Idea, but matter. Marx uses this word ‘matter’ in the sense in which it was used by the 19th century French materialists. But the idea of matter as inert mass has been discarded even by present-day physics. World-stuff is now regarded as energy which can take the form of mass. Dialectical materialism, however, is not disapproved by this change of meaning of the word ‘matter’. It can still be held in terms of realistic dialectic -- the terms in which the present-day Marxists hold it. With the new terminology, then, the Marxist dialectic takes this form: something real (a thesis) creates from within itself its opposite, another real (antithesis). Instead of warring perpetually with each other the two unite into a synthesis (a third real) which becomes the thesis of another triad. This goes from triad to triad till, in the social sphere, this dialectic of reals leads to the actualisation of a classless society. Our objection to Hegel’s position, that he does not find any place for international organisations in the historical process, does not apply to Marx, but the objection that Hegel considers war a necessary part of the historical process applies equally to Marx. Hegel’s system encourages wars between nations, Marx’s between classes. Besides, Marxism is self-contradictory, for, while it recognises the inevitability or necessity of the causal law, it also recognises initiative and free creativity by classes in changing the world. Both Marx and Hegel make history completely determined and totally ignore the universal law of human nature, that people, becoming dissatisfied with their situation at all moments of their lives except when they are in sound sleep, are in pursuit of ideals and values (which before their realisation are mere ideas). Thus if efficient causes push them on as both Hegel and Marx recognise, final causes are constantly exercising their pull, which both Hegel and Marx ignore.

The recognition of final causes brings me to my own hypothesis which I would call dialectical purposivism.

According to dialectical purposivism, human beings and their ideals are logical contraries, in so far as the former are real and the latter are ideal, whereas real and ideal cannot be attributed to the same subject. Nor can a person and his ideal be thought of in the relation of subject and predicate. For, an ideal of a person is what a person is not. There is no real opposition between two ideals or between two reals, but there is a genuine incompatibility between a real and an ideal. What is real is not ideal and whatever is ideal is not real, both are opposed in their essence. Hegelian ideas are, Marxist reals are not, of opposite natures. They are in conflict in their functions; mutually warring ideas or warring reals and are separated by hostility and hatred. The incompatibles of dialectical purposivism are so in their nature, but not in their function; they are bound by love and affection and, though rational discrepants, are volitionally and emotionally in harmony. In the movement of history real selves are attracted by ideals, and in realising them are synthesised with them. I have called this movement dialectical, but it is totally different from the Hegelian or Marxist dialectic. Whereas their thesis and antithesis are struggling against each other, here one is struggling not ‘against’ but ‘for’ the other. The formula of the dynamic of history, according to this conception, will be: a real (thesis) creates from within itself an ideal (antithesis)both of which by mutual harmony unite into another real (synthesis) that becomes the thesis of another triad, and thus from triad to triad. The dialectic of human society, according to this formula, is not a struggle of warring classes or warring nations, but a struggle against limitations to realise goals and ideals, which goals and ideals are willed and loved rather than fought against. This is a dialectic of love rather than of hatred. It leads individuals, masses, classes, nations and civilisations from lower to higher and from higher to yet higher reaches of achievement. It is a dialectic which recognises the over all necessity of a transcendentally determined process (a divine order), and take notice of the partial freedom of social entities and of the place of mechanical determination as a tool in human hands.

The hypothesis is not linear because it envisages society as a vast number of interacting individuals and intermingling and interacting classes, societies and cultures, and humanity as a whole moving towards infinite ideals -- now rising, now falling, but on the whole developing by their realisation. It is like the clouds constantly rising from the foothills of the Himalayan range, now mingling, now separating, now flying over the peaks, now sinking into the valleys, and yet ascending from hill to hill in search of the highest peak, the Everest.
This hypothesis avoids the Spencerian idea of steady progress, because it recognises ups and downs in human affairs and the rise and fall of different civilisations at different stages of world history. It avoids measuring the dynamic of history by the three-knotted rod of Western culture and does not shelve the question of change in human society as a whole.

There is one important question which I should like to touch briefly. The 20th century social philosophers are unanimous in maintaining that the Western culture (whether it is called European with Danilevsky, Faustic with Spengler, Western Heroic with Toynbee and Kroeber, Heroic Promethean with Schubart, or Western Sensate with Sorokin) is now declining, and see no chance of its survival except as a living factor in a new culture. Most hold that its geographical centre must shift from the West to elsewhere and all agree that its character must change from the present one to what is called by Danilevsky, Spengler, Toynbee, Schubart and Berdyaev religiously ideational, by Northrop, aesthetic-theoretic, by Schweitzer voluntaristically ethical and rational, and by Sorokin ideational-sensate. In short, all agree that the coming culture would be a synthesis of the Western culture which is rationalistic, empirical, humanistic, sensate and secular and the Eastern cultures, which are basically intuitional, ideational, ethical and religious, and would be characterised by love, solidarity, cooperation and reconciliation.
Such a synthesis was envisaged and a warning was given to the West earlier by Leibniz, Goethe, Schopenhauer, Herder, Rickert, von Hartmann and others, but no heed was paid. Now Danilevsky, Schubart and to some extent Spengler think that the centre of the coming culture is likely to be Russia, where, they hold, the above synthesis is taking place. But this view is most surprising, because the Communistic culture that Russia developed was rational, humanistic, non-ethical and non-religious -- not at all of the type they envisaged.

On the other hand, that if a new culture emerges, and emerge it must, its centre must develop in a place other than Russia. It cannot be China because Russian secularism, collectivism, material dynamism, anti-religionism and non-ethicism radically conflict with Taoism and Buddhism. Perhaps it will be America if she combines with her own Western culture the spirit of the East and attends to ends as values, or the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent if it synthesises its own culture with the spirit of the West and attends to means as values. Conscious efforts are being made on both sides and it remains to be seen which succeeds. The third possibility, however, that the West, after imbibing new elements of religion and ethics, may have another revival, cannot be completely ruled out. But will it do so?

To sum up, I have accepted the main conclusions of the aestheticians insofar as they relate to change in society as a whole, but have rejected them insofar as they concern the history of individual civilisations and cultures. I have rejected the view of Danilevsky, Spengler and Toynbee regarding the life span of cultures because it is cyclic and organic. I have not accepted the views of the 18th and 19th century philosophers, because they take a linear view of history. I have agreed with most of the findings of the integralist school insofar as they relate to the history of civilisations, but I have not subscribed to their view that the question of change in society as a whole is not worthy of consideration. I have not agreed with the empiricists, for they close their eyes to final causes, nor with the idealists because they deny that mechanical causes have any role to play in human history. I have not agreed with Hegel because he completely ignores the factual, nor with Marx because he completely ignores the ideal. Finally, I have given my own hypothesis that the culture of the future will be a synthesis of the East and West, centred either in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent, or in America, or, by remote chance in the West.

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Khalifa Abdul Hakim, One God, One World, One Humanity, (full text)

The fundamentals of Muslim culture are derived from the religious experience of the Prophet Muhammad and his interpretations of this in theory as well as practice. The Weltanschauung of the Muslim has been determined by the Qur‘anic revelation. The theologians, politicians, jurists, philosophers and mystics, through all the centuries of Muslim history, have claimed to base their arguments and conclusions on the teachings of the Qur‘an. Even during the periods of the greatest intellectual activity, under the powerful impact of pre-Islamic cultures, the Muslim mind never doubted the essentials of the Qur‘anic outlook.

Auguste Comte, the founder of positivism, described three stages of intellectual development through which humanity has passed: theological, metaphysical, and scientific. The distinguishing characteristic of Islam which was the source and the driving force of its cultural development was a creative synthesis of these three stages. Islam is theological, metaphysical and scientific at the same time. Based on revelation, Islam, in essence, might be considered to be theological, but its theology has a core of metaphysics, and its theistic outlook is an ally of the scientific outlook.

The Metaphysical Basis Of Islamic Culture
The fundamental belief, which according to Islam is the basis of all true religions, is the Unity of the Ultimate Reality. This Ultimate Reality called Allah is infinite, volitional, and rational. It is personal as well as impersonal, transcendent as well as immanent. It is Supreme Consciousness or Knowledge whose chief attributes are Power, Reason, and Love. According to the Qur‘an everything comes into being through the Creative Will of God, Who, "notwithstanding infinite stores of potential power, creates and regulates things and events with a definite measure." "His love covers everything." He is the sustainer and Cherisher of the worlds; all the worlds are unified in Him. Hence we live in a universe and not a multiverse. God, in His essence, being Spirit, Nature as well as Life, has a spiritual basis and a purpose.

God is the Source as well as the Goal of all existence and the purpose of life is the realisation in thought, as well as in practice, of this spiritual basis. This Ultimate Reality is not devoid of intrinsic values; all creation and evolution are the progressive realisation of these values. In the infinity of existence nothing happens by chance. Man’s own ideal nature is a manifestation of this reality; therefore, loyalty to God is loyalty to one’s own ideal nature. God is the principle of change as well as of permanence. The ultimate spiritual basis of life is eternal, though, in the words of the Qur‘an, "Every moment God’s Glory has a new effulgence." Life changes perpetually according to principles that are eternal.

Western thinkers have acknowledged the intellectual unity of all aspects of Muslim culture. Muslim law, ethics, economics, politics, sociology and attitudes towards nature and humanity all are derived from the metaphysical background of a Primeval Unity. The pre-Islamic world had sundered what God had joined. The chief service of Islam was a re-integration of life in all its aspects. The very first line of the Qur‘an described God as ‘God of the worlds’; the world of matter is not separated from the world of the spirit by unintelligible or impassable barriers. The material world, too, is holy ground. As the Prophet said, "The material world is a mosque." Knowledge as well as virtue is an avenue of approach from creation to the Creator. Religion does not consist in belief, in dogmas or mysteries. As knowledge grows, more and more reverence develops along with it. The essentially religious people, according to the Qur‘an, are those who reflect on the workings of nature. Those who want supernatural proofs are directed by the Qur‘an to the obvious, to which they have become blind.

There is nothing like mechanistic, purposeless, blind and dead matter in Muslim thought. "Every creature and every aspect of nature is engaged in communion with the Creator, glorifying Him in a tongue which you do not understand." Islam, therefore, repudiates every type of materialism, by spiritualising matter itself and making it akin to the spirit.

Pre-Islamic philosophies as well as religions had bifurcated existence and sundered the ideal from the actual. Spirit had made abortive attempts to free itself from body and from matter and in this vain attempt had stultified itself. In the attempt to exalt the spirit, matter with its laws and beauties was despised. This led to asceticism in the East as well as in the West. The demands of the body became a temptation and a risk. Nietzsche classified religions in two ways: those that say ‘yes’ to life, and those that say ‘no’ to life. The revolution that Islam accomplished and the outlets for human energies that it created, were due chiefly to this re-evaluation: the ascetic ideal was spurned as a life-negating outlook. Islam is accused by its critics as presenting fascinating pictures of a physical paradise, with beautiful men and women living in a beautiful environment enveloped in peace and beauty, but this overlooks that thereby Islam proclaimed the sanctity of the senses and envisaged the development of the spirit as manifesting itself also in the physical aspects of existence -- value which are derided by pseudo-idealism and hypocritical spirituality.

In the present-day world all practical idealists and believers are engaged in the materialisation of this dream and the creation of conditions of freedom and social justice in order to create this very paradise on earth, where human relations and human environment can assimilate Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. The goal of all human endeavour is the final identification of virtue and happiness. The way is not the suppression, but the realisation and sanctification of all those creative instincts with which life has equipped itself.

The result of this teaching was that the Muslim considered all Nature including his or her body as divine, and it was not derogatory to human dignity to crave for physical beauty and physical well-being, provided it did not violate the laws of physical nature or the laws of social justice. Nature, which was despised by ascetic religions, is mentioned in the Qur‘an as replete with the ‘Signs of the Lord’ and points to the ineffable Unity of Reason and Love, the Creative Urge from which all creation emerges.

And your God
Is one God.
There is no God
But He,
Most Gracious
Most Merciful.
Behold! In the creation
Of the heavens and the earth;
In the alternation
Of the night and day;
In the sailing of the ships
Through the ocean
For the benefit of mankind;
In the rain which God
Sends down from the skies,
And the life which He gives therewith
To the earth that is dead;
In the beasts of all kinds
That He scatters
Through the earth;
In the changes of winds,
And the clouds which they
Trail like their slaves
Between the sky and the earth
Here indeed are Signs
For a people that are wise.
(The Qur‘an, II: 163-4)

He granteth wisdom
To whom He pleaseth;
And he, to whom wisdom
Is granted, receiveth
Indeed a benefit overflowing,
But none will grasp the Message
But men of understanding;
(The Qur‘an, II: 269)

Islam turned the attention of humanity to the phenomena of nature. Instinct as well as reason is a revelation of the Original Life Force. (The word ‘vahi’ is used in the Qur‘an for the prophetic revelation as well as the instincts of animals, whereby they pursue unerringly and, for our present knowledge sometimes miraculously, the purposes of their lives.) The Qur‘an was the first scripture which proclaimed the identity of revelation, reason and nature, and proclaimed that the contemplation of nature within and nature without is the highest act of worship.

The student of history is astounded by the sudden and marvellous metamorphosis of an illiterate people into the greatest seekers of knowledge and the assimilators of all values in human culture wherever they may have originated. This took a breadth of mind which could not have been expected from a society supposed to have a rigid theocratic basis. (Dean Inge, in his outspoken essays, has paid a tribute to the creative and assimilative periods of Islamic culture by saying that the Muslims sought knowledge from everywhere without any prejudice. They proved to be remarkable assimilators of foreign culture, which has not been the case in any society with a theocratic background.) Islam uses the same word, ‘Haq’, for God as well as for Truth. In Islam the search for Truth was identified with the search for God. It was the spirit of its teachings that released human energies in all directions. The Prophet said, "Knowledge is the lost property of every Muslim; he is entitled to get hold of it wherever he finds it." "Seek knowledge even if you have to travel to China."

People who read these verses every day and imbibed their spirit have taught the methods of accurate observation and made the beginnings in experimental science. The Qur‘an says about the seekers of God in nature:

Men who celebrate
The praises of God,
Standing, sitting,
Any lying down on their sides,
And contemplate
The wonders of creation
In the heavens and the earth,
With the thought:
"Our Lord! not for naught
Hast thou created all this;"
(The Qur‘an, III: 191)

It was the repeated emphasis in the Qur‘an on the study of nature in order to discover in it uniformities and adaptations that resulted in the development of a rational outlook. The history of Islam is free from the wars of religious bigotry and persecution except in a few scattered and individual cases where religion was exploited for the purposes of political power. Similarly in the history of Muslim culture there never has been a conflict between religion and science -- unlike the history of the West which offers many examples of intellectual persecution and even martyrdom in the cause of science. The entire body of Greek scientific thought was rescued by the Arabs, and Muslim kings demanded scientific books as tribute in preference to gold. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus were revered as philosophical monotheists. Great philosophers and scientists like Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes) were devout Muslims and freethinkers at the same time.

Free and liberal thought was assimilated even by the mystics. It is a peculiar feature of Muslim culture that great Muslim mystics like Rumi, who are at the same time freethinkers and rationalists, tried to define the boundaries between intuition or religious experience and logical thinking, and to create a liaison between them. None of these great men ever suspected that either religious experience or the free exercise of rational activity ran counter to the spirit of Islam.

The spiritual odyssey of a person such as al-Ghazali is one of the most interesting biographies of a great soul. He plunged from dogmatic theology into rationalism and from rationalism into scepticism -- from which finally he was rescued by religious experience. This, according to him, created a direct and intimate contact with higher realities through a more exalted state of consciousness which comprehends wider dimensions of being. This insight which not only solves some of the riddles of perceptual and logical knowledge, but opens up vistas of new values which do not destroy, but fulfil the values of the lower grades of existence. Al-Ghazali, an acute critic of Greek science, is a mystic, a rationalist and a theologian at the same time; this combination and synthesis was made possible by the spirit of Islam.

The Role Of Humankind
The Greek philosopher, Protagoras, said "Man is the measure of all things", to which Socrates and Plato replied that Eternal Reason identified with God is the measure of all reality.

If we take the ideal man of the Qur‘an -- Adam, the prototype of humanity -- these two antagonistic views easily could be reconciled. The Qur‘an says that the essence of the human self is divine: God infused into Adam His own spirit and destined him to understand nature and mould it in the service of ideal values. Through knowledge and right action, the ideal man, participating in the divinity of God, himself becomes divine; through his ideal self and infinite possibilities he becomes the measure of the Universe. Neither the Universe nor the Ultimate Reality is isolated from the human mind, which is the greatest manifestation of that Reality. The Adam of the Qur‘an is not an individual but the ideal common essence of the whole of "humanity which originated in one soul."

Islam has drawn two major corollaries from the Unity of God: the unity of creation or of entire nature, and the unity of humanity. The conflict of ideologies at the present time is concerned less with the concept of God and more with the concept of humanity, but Islam is as much concerned with the nature of man as with the right concept of God. For making ideal humanity the measure of reality along with God who is the source of all reality, the Qur‘an transformed the ancient legend of Adam and Eve, of the Fall and Original Sin, into a doctrine that places humanity at the centre of the universe, making all agencies of nature subservient to it through the power bestowed by knowledge.

Behold! Thy Lord said to the angels: I will create a vicegerent on earth! They said: wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood whilst we celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy name? He said: I know what ye know not. And He taught Adam the names of all things; then He placed them before the angels, and said: tell me the names of these, if ye are right! And behold, He said to the angels: bow down to Adam! And they bowed down. Not so Iblis! He refused and was haughty. He was of those who reject faith.

There existed before Islam other theologies which had fixed their gaze on the fall of man, made Original Sin an eternally inheritable taint, and laid down that the birth of every human being is a punishment for the original sin committed by the first progenitor of this condemned species. Hence, no amount of virtuous life could suffice for salvation and well-being here and hereafter until God put on flesh Himself and punished Himself vicariously in love for his hopeless creature.

Qur‘anic teaching repudiates the entire basis of this doctrine which drags down all humanity along with its Creator into a slough of despair, from which man can be rescued only by grace. According to Islamic teaching there are no deities or powers of nature to which man has to submit; nor must he submit to any deified man. Man can never become God, nor can God become man. All agencies of nature must bow to man as he progresses in knowledge. But there shall remain one recalcitrant force which he will find hard to subdue, namely, Iblis which is his own selfish ego. The principle of moral evil, which is an inevitable result of the gift of the freedom of the will, is personified and symbolised as a character in the drama. The Qur‘an and the sayings of the Prophet are strewn with examples where every kind of moral as well as physical evil is called Satan, denoting thereby that Satan is not really a person, but a principle. The Prophet said once: "Every man has with him his own Satan". A hearer promptly asked, "Is there a Satan with you, too?" The Prophet replied, "Yes, but I have converted my Satan to Islam."

The Religious Meaning Of Freedom
The word ‘Islam’ means surrender as well as peace. All religions other than Islam are named after their founders and such names do not give the connotation or distinctive character of a creed. All religious experience is the experience of a Reality, which, though akin to the human spirit, transcends it by its infinity. Before Islam in the Arab world, groping humanity was surrendering itself to imaginary deities, revering totems and fetishes; one class, caste, or group surrendering explicitly to another dominant class; some individuals being deified and worshipped either as incarnations or as absolute monarchs with power of life and death over their subjects. Everywhere humankind was enslaved by exploitation, imagination, tradition or fear.

Islam put before humanity an ideal of human freedom unknown to the pre-Islamic world. It declared that all nature is God-created and God-directed, whose will is not subject to any caprice and who works according to set and stable laws, which the Qur‘an calls the ‘habitual modes of the Divine Will’. "Thou shalt find no alteration in the habits of the Lord." All deities are the creations of the human imagination and human desires. Epicurus said that man could not be happy until he is freed from the fear of gods. But belief in the reality of gods was so fixed and firm in the classical pagan mind that even a materialist like Epicurus could not venture to deny their existence. He ventured to think only that in their Olympian aloofness they do not interfere with the life of man. Islam rationalised nature and freed man from all fear; only one rational God was left, Who alone should be loved, obeyed and feared.

Fear of God has nothing in common with the fear instilled by the power and tyranny of a hostile being; it is identical with practical wisdom which is afraid of the violations of the laws of nature and of the laws of human welfare. A person who has attained virtue and wisdom is described in the Qur‘an always as one who is ‘freed from fear and grief.’ He is freed from fear because a wise and virtuous man has nothing to fear except his violations of the laws of his own well-being, and freed from grief because Ultimate Reality is conceived as the Cherisher, Sustainer and Preserver of all real values. Grief for the loss of what has little or evanescent value for life is irrational; grief for the loss of the really valuable is equally irrational because nothing of genuine and lasting value is lost. Belief in a rational and beneficent God is really belief in the conservation of values.

When Islam demands surrender it does not demand the relinquishing of anything that has an abiding value. The lower aspects of life exalt themselves by surrendering to higher aspects; they are not destroyed; rather their real purpose is fulfilled. There is demand for only life-enhancing surrender whereby the physical aspect is spiritualised and sublimated by subordinating itself to a higher ideal.

It is claimed by some materialists and naturalists that man can become free only by repudiating all belief in the reality of God, in the objectivity of an ideal existence. But can a belief in the blindness of existence, where ideals are created only by the wishful human thinking, really make one free and grant that peace of mind which one craves? If the island of human values is surrounded by an infinite ocean of indifferent or hostile forces, all life is reduced to a vain effort and a mockery. Could such a cosmic outlook create inner satisfaction or peace?

It may be argued that the theistic outlook of Islam if proven to be a true interpretation of existence certainly would free one from fear and grief and create an attitude of calm resignation and peace that passeth understanding, but that human knowledge and experience offer no adequate proof or guarantee for this outlook. The thesis of Islam is that besides the religious experiences of saints and the prophets, a wider and deeper study of nature, history and the human mind leads one to belief in a Life Force which is creative, evolutionary and preservative.

The Qur‘an teaches that good has an inherent tendency to multiply itself and evil is ultimately self-destructive. The universe is an ordered whole, in which no event is a product of mere chance and all life is a goal-seeking activity. The Ultimate Goal is God, as the Ultimate Source of all cosmic activity is God. In the words of the Qur‘an, "God is the beginning and God is the end; God is the appearance and God is the reality." The universe is not mechanistically blind as the materialists assert, nor is it volitionally blind as Schopenhauer taught. Islam teaches one to say ‘yes’ to life because life is destined to create value and well-being. Life being a dynamic movement of the unfolding of immense potentialities, man is destined to move to higher things by constantly dying in order constantly to be reborn at every moment on ever higher planes. The infinity of divine existence being the goal, the process of spiritual evolution is infinite. This infinite progress guarantees enhancement of life and consciousness, the constant creation and re-evaluation of values and the immortality of ever-striving egos.

Upon an ego, striving for an infinite ideal, mere adaptation to circumstances can bestow no peace. Biological evolution of the Darwinian category taught that chance variations were the means, and adaptation to environment the goal of life. Islam repudiates the hypothesis of chance and in place of mere adaptation to environment, which is already achieved by the worms, places before man the perpetual assimilation of the attributes of God as his goal and purpose. In such a process there can be no quietistic and static peace; one can only enjoy the peace and satisfaction of moving in the right direction, progressively realising an ideal by perpetual achievement through perpetual surrender: perpetually dying in order to be perpetually reborn in the richer and wider vistas of being. Personal, social and cosmic peace through surrender, with the purpose of divinising and enriching life, here and hereafter, is the meaning of Islam.

The ethics of Islam follows from the Islamic view of Reality. In Islam, ethics cannot be sundered from its metaphysical basis. One is created as God’s vicegerent on earth in order to understand and subordinate the whole of nature, within and without, to an infinite ideal; one is a creator and co-worker with the Infinite Creator. As nothing in existence is alien to God, nothing can be alien to humankind. As "nothing is created in vain", so in the human individuality or personality no aspect is created in order to be utterly repudiated or annihilated. As the cosmic ego is a unity, so too the human ego fundamentally is a unity. One’s body as well as one’s mind is a unity in diversity: the spirit is bound up with the flesh and cannot develop by inflicting indignities on the latter. The body with its senses and its instincts is sacred; God dwells and works not only in the spirit but also in the body.

Among great religions Islam alone raised its voice against the identification of spirituality with asceticism. One cannot attain to God by fleeing from life and neglecting physical existence; the way to God leads through nature and through humanity. One cannot by-pass the creation to reach the Creator; the Creator conceived in isolation from his creation is an abstraction. The individual cannot save his or her soul by meditation in a cave or by ascetic practices; one’s essential self is social. According to the Prophet, "the worker in the everyday business of life is a friend of God." The lengthening of prayers to the extent that man is prevented from the performance of family and social duties is prohibited. Islamic ethics is an ethics of integration of all the aspects of human existence. In the self-realisation of the individual, no aspect is to be neglected. All one’s instincts have definite life-functions, which have to be understood, respected, and regulated so that they work as an organic whole under the guidance of a supreme ideal, the part subserving the whole and the whole strengthening every part.

The fundamental Islamic ethics are given in the Qur‘an. Belief in one God is tantamount to belief in the unity of virtue and the objectivity of life-values. The belief may be acquired either through religious experience or intellectual effort, or it may be inherited from social tradition. The distinction between good and evil must be accepted as a postulate before any moral life becomes possible. But according to Qur‘anic, mere verbal profession intellectual apprehension or traditional acceptance is not enough; knowledge apart from action is a sterile abstraction. Wisdom ceases to be wisdom if it does not mould character.

One of the characteristics of the Qur‘an is that it seldom mentions ‘faith’ without coupling it with good deeds. "Woe to the people who pray but are not charitable." Socrates identified knowledge with virtue; he was of the opinion that a person who knows what is good necessarily will follow it. The Qur‘anic view is that good deeds are the true test of faith and knowledge, and unless a person disciplines himself and creates good habits his faith alone will not suffice when face to face with temptations. What Islam means by Iman or faith is not merely an intellectual assent or belief based on authority. Like the word ‘Islam’, which means both surrender and peace, the word Iman too has a double significance; it has a cognitive as well as a conative side. In Islamic teaching truth is always pragmatic in a higher and a broader sense. Iman is derived from the root amn which used transitively means, "he granted him peace or security"; when used intransitively it means, "he came into peace or security."

The word ‘Islam’ as well as Iman emphasises the idea of peace or harmony, the ideal of human experience. One must strive to be at peace with himself, with one’s neighbours or the society in which one lives, with the universe that forms one’s physical environment, and above all with that Source and Goal of Reality called God reflected in one’s ideal self. One who, by becoming true to his real or higher self, attains inner and other personal peace, qualifies to attain peace and security also for others. Al-Mu‘min, the granter of security, is an attribute of God. Islam is a sum-total of those principles which create harmony in every aspect of life. In a number of sayings of the Prophet good deeds and right attitudes are considered to be a substantial part of faith which sometimes is completely identified with virtue. Some sayings of the Prophet will elucidate his conception of faith. "A person has no faith unless he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." "A man should try to prevent evil and tyranny by action. If he is unable to do this, he should express strong disapproval of it in words. If he is prevented from freely expressing his disapproval he should hate it in his heart. This last attitude is the weakest expression of faith."

Law and justice are the central concepts in Islamic ethics: justice has an intrinsic, and law only an instrumental, value. God’s attributes of beneficence and mercy precede his quality of a law-giver and a judge in the daily prayers of the Muslims. There is a general human tendency to practise a different morality towards friends and foes. The Qur‘anic teaching warns human beings against this weakness: covenants must be fulfilled with allies as well as opponents. Treatises cannot be violated unilaterally at the will of one party, and the code of justice is the same for all. "O ye, who believe! Stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others make you swerve toward wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety. And fear God, for God is well-acquainted with all that ye do." (The Qur‘an, V: 9)

Islam And Social Reform
As the Prophet conceived humanity as a single organic whole, tribal prejudices must be transcended. He knew that differences of tongues and colours and diversity of conventions existed and would continue to exist. These diversities are called in the Qur‘an, ‘the signs of Allah’, which is a term used in the Scripture in a very exalted sense. He was not an advocate of colourless uniformity; he was convinced that if people could see the unreality of tribal gods and could believe in One Creator and Sustainer of all of nature and humanity, and if the fundamentals of virtue and social justice could be established on a broad and universal basis, the irrational conflicts of creeds and tribes could be ended. He was successful in his lifetime in uniting the tribes, not on a nationalistic, racial or a patriotic basis, but on the basis of a universal creed and universal morality.

The division of humanity into tribes and nations serve only the purposes of recognition. Nations become superior or inferior by their character and their outlook. In his last address, delivered at a time when he was at the acme of his power and when the Arabs had achieved unprecedented solidarity and were intoxicated with success, he said, "Remember! The Arab has no inherent superiority over the non-Arab". Individuals and nations must be evaluated on the basis of their character alone; all pride based on race, tribe or creed is false. The Negro, when he happened to be also a slave, was despised by the pre-Islamic Arabs. The Prophet selected one such Negro slave and made him his dear companion, entrusted with the honoured duty of calling faithful to prayer. He said, "Follow your leader even if he is a Negro slave."

Muhammad (PBUH) cherished the vision of a classless society and of different communities living side by side in peace. He taught his followers to respect the founders of all theistic creeds. The Qur‘an states explicitly that the good life and salvation are not the exclusive monopoly of any creed.

Those who believe in the Qur‘an
And those who follow Jewish scriptures,
And the Christians and the Sabeans,
And those who believe in God,
And the Last Day,
And work righteousness,
Shall have their reward
With their Lord: On them
Shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.
(The Qur‘an, II: 62)

To God belong the East
And the West: Whitherever
Ye turn, there is the Presence
Of God. For God is All-Pervading,
(The Qur‘an, II: 115)

Different individuals and nations choose different goals. The main thing is that these goals should lead to the Good, the summum bonum. People should choose and strive, even competitively as if in a race, to realise the Good. If they keep that in mind, the diversity of subsidiary aims would not make them hostile to one another.

To each is a goal
To which God turns him;
So, strive together
Toward all that is good.
Wherever ye are,
God will bring you
Together. For God
Hath power over all things.
(The Qur‘an. II: 148)

The Prophet had a definite vision and a plan to create a classless society and a well-harmonised humanity. When the world was groaning under religious persecution he promulgated the principle that there must be complete freedom of conscience. The Qur‘an proclaimed that "there must be no compulsion in religion." A Muslim is prohibited from exercising pressure even on his slave in order to convert to him to Islam. The great Caliph Omar had a Christian slave who, notwithstanding his refusal to accept Islam, lived in peace and freedom in the household of his master. A Muslim could have a Jewish or a Christian mother, who should be loved, respected and obeyed. There were instances of Muslims carrying on their backs their aged Christian mothers to the church. This is the spirit of Islam in action. Conventional differences of creeds should not make human beings hostile to one another. Righteousness is different from dogmas and conventions: it is an attitude of mind dominated by love, compassion and justice. Differences of customs and manners should not blind people to the essentials of virtue, which form the core of all genuine spirituality.

It is not righteousness
That ye turn your faces
Toward East or West;
Righteousness is
To spend your substance,
Out of love for Him,
For your kin,
For the needy,
For the wayfarer,
For those who ask,
And for the ransom of slaves;
To be steadfast in prayer,
And practice regular charity;
To fulfil the contracts
Which ye have made,
To be firm and patient
In pain and adversity
And throughout
All periods of panic:
Such are the people
Of truth, the God-fearing.
(The Qur‘an, II, 177)

Muhammad’s conception of humanity excluded slavery of all types. Ancient civilisation and its entire economic structure were built on this unholy institution. The Prophet saw that it could not be abolished at a stroke, but that it could be eliminated progressively by humane legislation tending towards that end. A philosopher like Aristotle had taught that slavery could not be abolished because it was rooted in the nature of things: some persons were created for slavery. The Prophet thought otherwise. He regarded slavery to be an obnoxious institution created by the artificial need and greed of self-seeking men. The emancipation of slaves was made a moral duty and a number of wrongs done by a person could be expiated by the emancipation of a slave. A slave as such could be allowed to be kept only on the condition that the master fed and clothed him as he fed and clothed himself. Ransoming of captives was made one of the items of state expenditure. The Muslims followed this teaching only partially, treating their slaves as members of the household, conferring on them great positions of power and prestige in the state, to the extent that some of them founded royal dynasties; but they did not take the further step of abolishing this institution altogether, toward which Islam had urged them.

Next to slavery, feudalism which created the division of landlords and serfs. The Islamic law of inheritance prohibited primogeniture, by which the eldest son inherited the whole estate, undivided, depriving all other heirs. Following the Islamic law of inheritance no feudal estates could be created.

After the abolition of feudalism, the Prophet turned his attention towards the restriction of laissez-faire capitalism. Capitalism is a product of the concentration of capital and untaxed hoarded wealth. Islam laid it down that all avenues of unearned income must be closed or narrowed. Usury was prohibited so that wealth might not concentrate in unproductive hands. Society must not be allowed to split up into classes of haves and have-nots. Free initiative of rightful earning of profits by enterprise and labour should not be curbed, but there must be a tax on capital to the extent that is necessary for a healthy levelling of economic resources. Wealth should be taken away from those who have a surplus and spent on the essential requirements of the needy. The Prophet said that poverty must be abolished because it blackens man’s face in both the worlds, and it should be eradicated to the extent that a man may walk through his country in search of those who would accept charity, but find none to receive it. Accumulated wealth, on the one hand, and poverty, on the other, create diseases in the social organism; a healthy society and the state should see that these extremes do not exist. Islam foresaw that with economic disparities of a glaring kind, social justice is impossible. As in everything else, it struck a media between free enterprise and forced egalitarianism.

Muhammad is the only prophet in the history who turned his attention to the reform of the economic order. The definite pattern of a plan for a free humanity was chalked out by him. Monarchy was declared evil; he did not ask his followers to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, but said that a man owes nothing to Caesar and society should aim at this, that "there shall be no Caesars."

Similarly, there should be no feudal lords and usurers living on the needy. Wealth may be freely and lawfully earned, but means should be adopted to spread it out so that, in the words of the Qur‘an, "it does not circulate only among the rich." There must be equality of opportunity for all. Disabilities of the weaker sex must be removed. Woman should inherit and hold property in her own name. She should be free to contract marriage and have a right to divorce, if the husband is proved unable to perform his duties. Any conditions that are not immoral or unlawful can be inserted in the marriage contract.

To summarize:
- The Islamic outlook is theistic, considering God as Ultimate Reality.

- Creating, sustaining and developing, motivated by infinite love, are the chief attributes of God.

- No being or power other than this Ideal and Ineffable Reality deserves to be worshipped.

- Islam means voluntary surrender to this Ideal which is also Real in the Being of God, but has to be realised by man through intellectual and moral effort.

- Nature is a system of unities and uniformities, but the ultimate basis of all causation is not purposeless mechanism, but teleological spirituality.

- The Unseen is infinitely more than the Seen, but is organically related to the Seen. The basis or Reality may be ultrarational but is not irrational.

- Truths are revealed to man not only through rational and perceptional channels but also through experiences that transcend them.

- As nature is a unity in diversity, so is humanity a fundamental unity.

- All ethics is based on the theoretical and practical realisation of this Oneness.

- All nations and groups can come together on the basis of two fundamental beliefs: God and the Moral Order.

- Differences of conventions and customs ought not to stand in the way of the acceptance of universal ideals of conduct.

- Freedom is the essence of the human ego. Slavery, servitude, and serfdom of all kinds must be abolished. One must cooperate in the social order, but no one is the master of another.

- All civilised societies must cherish and defend freedom of conscience. There must not be any overt or covert coercion in matters of belief. Variety in conduct and life-attitudes that do not lead to social confusion and tyranny must be respected.

- Human beings are not equal in capacities and achievements. Forcible levelling and attempts to establish unnatural egalitarianism are detrimental to personal and social development.

- Society must be planned and developed as an organic whole without such regimentation as encroaches on personal liberty and individual initiative.

- In Islamic jurisprudence no right is absolute; all rights are subject to public welfare.

- A truly Islamic state must be a democratic republican state. The head of the state is to be elected by the consensus of those who are fit to give an opinion on the basis of knowledge and character. Government by consultation is enjoined by the Qur‘an; hereditary monarchy or autocracy has no place in Islam.

- There must be complete equality before the law. The head of the state can be sued in the court by an ordinary citizen. No invidious distinction is allowed on the basis of race or creed.

- Communities with different cultures within the same body politic may be allowed to be governed by their own personal laws. The Prophet decided the cases of the Jews according to the Torah.

- Fundamentals of the constitution based on broad principles as enunciated above form a constant and stable element. Application of these principles may vary according to circumstances. What is not definitely prohibited is permissible, subject to the public weal. The consensus of the learned can modify laws to any extent demanded by the principles of justice and equity.

- Economic life is to be moulded on the principle that concentration of national wealth in a few hands is to be avoided.

- Hoarded wealth is to be taxed to any extent that is necessary for public weal. Society must not be allowed to be split up into the classes of haves and have-nots. Feudal estates must be split up by inheritance and by prohibition of primogeniture.

- Usury as a main source of living on unearned income is prohibited; private property is allowed, subject to certain restrictions.

- Legitimately earned wealth can be taxed to any extent according to the needs of the state and society, but outright expropriation is not permitted.

- The state is envisaged as a welfare state. Law and order and defence are not its sole functions; relief of poverty and suffering is an essential function of the state.

- War is permitted only to punish aggression and to re-establish fundamental liberties. War for the propagation of creeds compelling another by force to accept its way of life and wars for economic gains or territorial expansion are not permitted.

- The Qur‘an teaches that quarrels between groups should be settled by the intervention and adjudication of neutral groups, and the award enforced by them against the refractory party. This can form the basis of a just league of nations.
In short, Islam is theistic socialism, conceiving humanity as one family. The Prophet said, "God is my witness that I hold the belief that all humanity is one family and no group is specially privileged." There are no Chosen People except those whom God chooses for their vision of Truth and excellence of character. Racial superiority is a myth. Man is destined to develop and assimilate divine attributes through knowledge and love; all rules of life must be subordinated to these two fundamentals.

Islam claims that religion in this form is a universal truth and can form the basis of a universal humanity, free to develop its infinite potentialities unhampered by artificial restrictions and barriers created by superstition and selfishness.
Professor Gibb, the well-known orientalist, is right in his assertion that Islam is in the best position to mediate between the East and the West. Who knows that this outlook, fully realised and practised, might transcend the contradictions of conflicting ideologies. Bernard Shaw, when questioned about the future religion of humanity, expressed his belief that the future religion of the world would be Islam or something very similar to it; not the Islam of Muslim orthodoxies, but the fundamental attitude of Muhammad towards God and man: One God, One World, One Humanity.

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