The Philosophy Issue

A Reminder of Old Truths

Learning from the Qur'an.
A Reminder of Old Truths

Haleh Anvari, On the Road

Audio version read by George Atherton – Right-click to download

The Qur’an is a reminder of old truths already known to us all: for humans to live together successfully society must practice compassion, justice and equity. This insight lies at the root of political Islam.

Instead of the preeminence of the market, to which other social and community objectives are subordinated, the making of a society based on compassion, justice and equity becomes the overriding objective – to which other objectives, including markets, are subordinated.

It is revolutionary in another aspect: Instead of the individual being the organizational principle around which politics, economics and society are shaped, this Western paradigm is inverted. It is the collective welfare of the community in terms of such principles – rather than the individual – that becomes the litmus of political achievement.

Islamists are reopening an old debate – one at the root of both Western and Islamic philosophy. Posed by Plato, that debate questions the purpose of politics. Some Westerners are troubled that after 200 years of settled opinion, the Western paradigm is being questioned anew. One American conservative commented to me recently that with Descartes, the West had discovered “objective truth” through science and technology. It had made “us” rich and powerful and Muslims could not bear that. They knew that ultimately they would be forced to acquiesce to Western “truth.”

But the Islamist revolution is more than politics. It is an attempt to shape a new consciousness – to escape from the most far-reaching presuppositions of our time. It draws on the intellectual tradition of Islam to offer a radically different understanding of the human being, and to escape from the hegemony and rigidity of the Cartesian mindset.

The Islamist revolution is a voyage of discovery to a new “Self” that is far from complete. It has many shortcomings, but its intellectual insights offer Muslims (and Westerners) the potential to step beyond the shortcomings of Western materialism. This is what excites and energizes.

Alastair Crooke, NPQ, Summer 2009

48 comments on the article “A Reminder of Old Truths”

Displaying 41 - 48 of 48

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Anonymous

Wow, some of these comments really sound like broken records. Islam is evil, Muslims stone their women blah, blah blah.

If you visit a site like ad-busters presumably you know that a lot of what you are presented with on TV or in the press has an agenda, and tries to "sell" you and image. Even an image of what you should think Islam/muslims are.

If you don't agree with the content of the article fine. However, this knee-jerk reaction of condemning all Muslims and Islam anytime the the word Islam is mentioned just belies a self-conciousness and a need to demonize an other to justify/live with ones own short-comings.

The lady doth protest too much, meethinks.

Anonymous

Wow, some of these comments really sound like broken records. Islam is evil, Muslims stone their women blah, blah blah.

If you visit a site like ad-busters presumably you know that a lot of what you are presented with on TV or in the press has an agenda, and tries to "sell" you and image. Even an image of what you should think Islam/muslims are.

If you don't agree with the content of the article fine. However, this knee-jerk reaction of condemning all Muslims and Islam anytime the the word Islam is mentioned just belies a self-conciousness and a need to demonize an other to justify/live with ones own short-comings.

The lady doth protest too much, meethinks.

cuneytg

At last someone started to speak outside the box and make sense. Way to go Alastair! You sound like someone who actually could see through the thick smoke of misinformation.

cuneytg

At last someone started to speak outside the box and make sense. Way to go Alastair! You sound like someone who actually could see through the thick smoke of misinformation.

Anonymous

Do I read above that most Muslims are not Islamists (extremists) with Western minds being confused about each?
I've also been noticing that most Christians are not Evangelicals. I really don't know how to identify a "true" Christian (each church says "they are the truth")so between Muslims and Christians where are their centers? Does each faith actually have one? (Yes, I know what you Roman Catholics profess!) But I am looking for a wider picture.

Anonymous

Do I read above that most Muslims are not Islamists (extremists) with Western minds being confused about each?
I've also been noticing that most Christians are not Evangelicals. I really don't know how to identify a "true" Christian (each church says "they are the truth")so between Muslims and Christians where are their centers? Does each faith actually have one? (Yes, I know what you Roman Catholics profess!) But I am looking for a wider picture.

Emanuele

Christian fundamentalists reduce faith to statements alone: this helps to reify (thingyfy) belief leading to the attitude that faith, and ultimately God, is something that can be owned, possessed, and, in the end, domesticated.

Other Christians (that could go for people of other faiths too) instead, while being guided by one or another tradition, try instead to "live the questions" of faith, without necessarily getting any clear-cut answers or certainty. Faith, in other words, is trust, a radical openness and vulnerability, rather than certainty-seeking. It doesn't seek to domesticate God.

Example: saying that one KNOWS what Catholics (or anyone other Christian/believer) profess is closing yourself off to the encounter you can have with that person on their own terms, to being surprised. The personal encounter is what matters. If you want to truly know what a ‘true’ Christian is you first have to meet them as a person. You cannot ‘know’ them in the abstract. You cannot understand anything about BEING a Christian (or again a Muslim, etc) by HAVING, possessing knowledge ABOUT them. Ditto for God.
http://www.livingthequestions.com
http://www.jamesalison.co.uk/eng/texts.html

Emanuele

Christian fundamentalists reduce faith to statements alone: this helps to reify (thingyfy) belief leading to the attitude that faith, and ultimately God, is something that can be owned, possessed, and, in the end, domesticated.

Other Christians (that could go for people of other faiths too) instead, while being guided by one or another tradition, try instead to "live the questions" of faith, without necessarily getting any clear-cut answers or certainty. Faith, in other words, is trust, a radical openness and vulnerability, rather than certainty-seeking. It doesn't seek to domesticate God.

Example: saying that one KNOWS what Catholics (or anyone other Christian/believer) profess is closing yourself off to the encounter you can have with that person on their own terms, to being surprised. The personal encounter is what matters. If you want to truly know what a ‘true’ Christian is you first have to meet them as a person. You cannot ‘know’ them in the abstract. You cannot understand anything about BEING a Christian (or again a Muslim, etc) by HAVING, possessing knowledge ABOUT them. Ditto for God.
http://www.livingthequestions.com
http://www.jamesalison.co.uk/eng/texts.html

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