By Dr. Fazl-ur-Rahman Ansari
Human Consciousness manifests itself in five different forms, viz., Empirical or Physical Consciousness, Theoretic or Rational Consciousness, Moral Consciousness, Aesthetic Consciousness and Spiritual Consciousness. Consequently, human personality has five different planes of activity, viz, physical, mental, moral, aesthetic and spiritual, these five planes of activity bear reference to five sets of values viz., physical, mental, moral, aesthetic and spiritual. The differences in human ideologies and the distinctions in human civilisations are based always on the emphasis which is laid in them on the different values.
A critical investigation into the ideologies which have existed in human history reveals that they have emphasised different values and different gradations of values. Thus, in certain ideologies the emphasis has been solely on the physical value and consequently they have been of the materialistic type. In certain other ideologies the emphasis has been on the spiritual value. As regards the latter, again, the emphasis has taken two different forms, namely, Mystical Spirituality, which is based on the mystification of life and escape from life, and Rational Spirituality, whose function is to orientate human activity in spiritual perspective and to integrate human personality on the basis of the spiritual value.
It is not, however, only one value which an ideology usually emphasises. Rather, it is in most cases a set of values, and those values are presented under a system of grading in which one value is emphasised as the basic value and others are graded in order of merit below it. Thus, the ideology of the ancient Hindu civilisation was Mystico-intellectual in which the mystical element was dominant and the intellectual value was its servant. Besides that, the physical value was considered to be a necessary evil and the moral value was treated as an adjunct of the mystical twist. That ideology created a wealth of mystic experience and philosophical hair-¬splitting but failed to make any great contribution in the domain of empirical sciences. The Greek civilization was Empirico-Intellectualistic. Consequently, the Greeks failed to make that contribution in the field of mystic experience and abstruse philosophical hair-splitting which the Hindus could make. Their outlook was more rational and realistic, although their greatest philosophers show signs of inability to escape from the clutches of superstition. The ideology of the modern Western civilisation is Empirico-Aesthetico- IntelIectüalistic. In this ideology the physical value iis the most basic, while the mental and the aesthetic are conjoined as subservient values, and the moral value is viewed in a utilitarian perspective and as a matter of expediency.
Basic Features of Islamic Ideology
Spiritual Basis and Integration of Values:
So far as the Islamic ideology is concerned its first basic feature is that it regards the Spiritual Value in the sense of rational spirituality as the most basic value. This value functions in the Islamic system of values as the foundation as well as the life-blood of all the other values which receive their due share in Islam. For, Islam regards all the five values as necessary and believes in their harmonious blending and integration. Each value should be maintained in its natural place and no value should be unduly curtailed. Of course, the spiritual value is to function as the all-pervading force side by side with being a member in the institutional structure of the PENTAGON.
Making the Spiritual Value as the foundation means building up the edifice of life on a system of Belief (or, Imaan). In Islam, it consists fundamentally in Belief in the One True God, in His Messengers and in Life after death.
Islam teaches that belief is the father to action - that life moves from within outwards. Belief is the “root” out of which sprouts the “tree” of human endeavour with its different branches of morality, politics, economics, etc. Hence, while Islam takes care of the root as well as of the branches, it lays primary emphasis on the root. For, once the root is strong and healthy - once the love for God has been truly acquired and the loyalty to Him has become undivided and the fear or Final Accountability has taken hold of the heart - the entire human activity proceeds and progresses in a natural manner and towards the most glorious success. This is what happened when the people of Arabia answered the Call of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be on Him). The lives of those who embraced Islam at the hands of the Holy Prophet were revolutionised, and their motives and actions both attained such heights of purity as were never attained by any community before or since. The course of their history was changed, and with that was changed the course of the history of mankind.
Here Islam differs from Communism which emphasises the physical value to the detriment of other values, and with the non-Islamic religions which emphasise certain values wrongly or whose view is either unsystematic or in-comprehensive.
Comprehensiveness of Guidance:
Islam regards God as the Source of all Guidance. Hence, the Guidance it has offered could not but aim at comprehensiveness. This forms the second basic feature of Islamic ideology. For, Islam is not merely a religion built on a few ceremonials, a few moral maxims and a few miracles. It is “Deen”, namely, Complete Code of Guidance which covers every conceivable department of human activity. Thus, while Islam is essentially a religion, it is also a self-contained culture and a self-sustained civilisation, and its goal is human success in this life as well as in the next.
Principle of Unity:
The notion of the integration of values brings us to the third basic feature of Islamic ideology, i.e., the Principle of Unity.
In other words, Islam is the religion of Tawheed (Unity) which runs through it from the beginning to the end; Its first expression is in the domain of the conception of God. Islam insists that God is Unity in His Being as well as in His Attributes, that He has no partner in His functions and that there is none comparable unto Him. In this teaching Islam opposes and refutes the teachings of Christianity, Hinduism and other polytheistic religions. Again, the Islamic conception of the Unity of God is transcendental. Here it is opposed to the Jewish anthropomorphic notion of Godhead. Still again, Islam regards God as a person, and here it stands in contradistinction to Buddhist and Jainist impersonalism. Indeed, the Islamic doctrine of the Oneness of God is the purest and the most exalted in the whole domain of religion; and it is also the most rational because the latest advances in the realm of scientific philosophy have progressively been in the same direction.
The second manifestation of the principle of Unity is in the realm of the nature of the world. Islam regards the entire cosmos as a unity. It has been brought into being -created ab novo- by the One God; hence it is a unity, which means that all its different components and parts are inter-related and they function for the achievement of one purpose. This singleness of purpose makes the world a Moral Order.
The third stage at which the principle of Unity manifests itself is that of humanity. According to Islam, all human beings, whether white or black, red or yellow, Europeans or Africans, Westerners or Orientals, form one Family. And here Islam has laid the foundations of the Fundamental Human Rights which is Islam’s major contribution in the field of social relations. We might, by way of contrast, refer here to the racial superiority-complex which has been perpetrated by the Christians, the Jews and the Hindus.
The fourth stage at which the principle of Unity manifests itself lies in the realm of knowledge. Because all the different parts and things of the world are organically inter-related, the different departments of knowledge are also inter-related. According to Islam, humanity can attain true knowledge and derive proper benefits from the pursuit of knowledge, not by segregating the different departments of knowledge into separate water-tight compartments - a blunder which the modern Western civilisation has committed - but by channelising the different currents of knowledge into a unitary stream. Here Islam has given the great principle of Correlation of Knowledge.
The fifth stage at which the principle of Unity manifests itself is that of human personality. Islam regards the different factors that go to make up the individual as only different facets and aspects of the same thing. The human personality, according to Islam, is essentially a Unity. It is an organic whole and its proper development is possible only if every aspect of human life receives the fullest attention due to it and is treated not as an isolated phenomenon but as an inter-linked reality. Verily, the distinction of the “religious” and the “secular” is totally alien to Islam. This comprehensive Islamic view of the human personality stands in sharp contrast with the partial view of personality presented and upheld by the non-Islamic religions, on the one hand, and by the Western Secularism and Communism, on the other.
Based on Divine Revelation:
The fourth basic feature of Islamic ideology is the emphasis on Divine Revelation as the basic source and the foundation of human guidance. Islam teaches that when Almighty Allaah created the first human being namely, Adam, He revealed to him the “knowledge of all things” and made Him the first prophet. After that He continued to send down guidance through Revelation given to His different Messengers and sent to all the races and peoples of mankind. This process of educating humanity continued till the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace of God be with him), after whom the door of Divine Revelation was sealed. Thus, according to Islamic ideology, it is Divine Revelation which fed the human civilisation from the beginning and through the different epochs of human history until with the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be on him) mankind attained the.stage of maturity and was no more in need of Divine spoon-feeding. The last revealed Book, i.e., the Holy Qur’an, has retained its pristine purity up to this day and will abide with humanity in this state of purity up to the Last Day.
The principle which emerges from this Islamic teaching is that the salvation of humanity has always been and will always be grounded basically in Divine Revelation. This does not mean that Islam in any way deprives human reason of its true place in human affairs. Indeed, Islam has laid the fullest emphasis on the importance of Reason and on the cultivation of knowledge and all its branches. Side by side with that, however, Islam also emphasises the limits of human reason. For instance, Islam teaches that human reason is absolutely incapable of solving the Ultimate Problems. In the domain of social problems also Islam holds to the view that human reason must comm. it blunders if it is not guided by Divine Revelation. Moreover, Reason has attained its present state of development basically through its culture and training by Divine Revelation during the bygone ages.
Principle of the Vicegerency of Man:
The fifth basic feature of Islamic ideology is its teaching concerning man and his relation with the world. Islam proclaims that man is the vicegerent (Khalifah) of God on earth. Now, what does this term signify? In the first instance, man is to act as the Agent of God in all the spheres of life, whether they relate to himself or to others and whether they refer to morals or economics or politics or any other department of human activity. This great idea opens the door to dynamic spirituality and leads mankind on the road to truly healthy civilisation. Secondly, man has been endowed by God with certain capabilities whereby he can subjugate the natural forces and harness them to his use, thereby participating so to say, in the creative activity of God.
This is a revolutionary idea which Islam introduced in human thought. With this idea the Holy Qur’an opened wide the gates of scientific and technological advancement for humanity, on the one hand, and dealt a crushing blow to nature-worship which had marred the outlook of the idolatrous religions of the world.
The sixth basic feature of Islamic ideology is that it is a thorough-going Democracy. The society which Islam builds is at one and the same time a Spiritual Democracy, a social democracy and a political democracy.
It is a Spiritual Democracy because in Islam there is no priesthood, namely a privileged class or dynasty or religious leaders who might act as intermediaries between man and God. All other religions of the world establish priesthood and consequently establish spiritual oligarchy. The Islamic Society is a Social Democracy because Islam establishes a classless social order in which the standard of preference and superiority is neither tribe nor dynasty nor race nor wealth nor even administrative leadership but only character. The Islamic Society is a Political Democracy because it establishes the State on the basis of the formula: “Government of God for the people by the people.” When Islam emphasises the sovereignty of God it means that no human being has the right to rule over other human beings. The head of the state, his cabinet and his parliament all of them are merely agencies elected by the people under the Law of God and the Divine mandate to carry out the administration as Agents and Servants of God and representatives of the people. In the Islamic political order the supremacy on the human level has been given not to person or persons but to Law. According to Islam, all are equal before the law. Islam tramples under the feet the age-old conception of the Divine Right of Kings and the modern conception of special privileges for the Head of the State.
It might be pointed out here that democracy which is established under the concept of the “government of the people” cannot be so real, because of being based on party-system, as the democracy which is built on the principle of Sovereignty of God and the no-party system of Islam. This is because the right of legislation rests in a modern democracy with the people which always means the majority, and in Islam it vests in God which means it is represented in the will of every single individual who is the citizen of the Islamic State.
Principle of the Balance:
The seventh basic feature of Islamic ideology consists in the principle of the “Balance”. Islam has laid down the general rule of adopting the middle path in our outlook as well as our actions; and this principle manifests itself on different levels. For instance: it is the major shortcoming of all the non-Islamic religions and ideologies that they are one-sided. They sacrifice either this world or the next. Islam, in its turn, strikes a happy balance between the demands of this world and the requirements of the next, thus giving to us that balanced ideology which alone can ensure true and comprehensive success.
Then, Islam is neither a “loose” system nor “rigid”. Rather, it strikes a balance between the “permanent” and the “changeable” by giving fundamental and unchanging principles and laws in the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah, on the one hand, and by establishing the institution of Ijtihad for effecting adjustments in deference to the changing modes of human problems.
The fundamental and the unchanging principles and laws are for all time because they are based on the fundaments of human nature, and human nature is unchangeable. The modes of human problems do change and vary from group to group, and hence the principle of flexibility which Islam permits in that domain.
In the general theory of society, Islam sacrifices neither the interests of the individual nor the claims of society, but gives to both what is due to them.
In the sphere of Politics, Islam effects a most healthy balance between the rights of the state and the rights of the citizens, thus avoiding totalitarianism and anarchy both.
In the domain of Economics, Islam resolves the conflict of Capital and Labour by ensuring the genuine rights of both, and thus steers a middle course between Capitalism and Communism.
Complete Theory and Perfect Pattern:
The eighth basic feature of Islamic ideology is that it is not merely theoretical. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be on him) did not confine himself to giving sermons and laying down rules of conduct but also put into practice what he taught. And while his teachings covered every aspect of human life, his practical example covered every field of human activity. Thus Islam has given not only a complete theory of human belief and conduct but also a perfect Pattern, and this feature of Islamic ideology is again unique in the known history of mankind.
The ninth basic feature of Islamic ideology is its simplicity. The Creed of Islam - Laa Ilaha illLalah, Muhammad-ur-Rasullullah - is the simplest and the most well-defined in the world and Islam prescribes no mystifying beliefs and no mysterious rites and ceremonies.
Allied to Reason
The tenth basic feature of Islamic ideology is that it is allied to Reason. Namely, instead of demanding blind acceptance on the basis of “Believe in it and you will be saved”, the Holy Qur’an makes fervent appeals on page after page to employ reason in understanding the truth, the beauty and grandeur of its teaching. The same cannot be said of any other religion of the world.
Islam has not only harmonised the roles of Reason and Revelation in the domain of human problems, but it has also laid special emphasis on the cultivation of physical sciences - a pursuit which is a scared obligation according to the Holy Qur’an which, on page after page, makes the most passionate and impressive appeals to investigate the multifarious natural phenomena and thus to realise the Word of God in the Work of God, and also to harness the natural forces for the realisation of human destiny in terms of the Vicegerency of God.
The scientific quest in Islam has, however, to be pursued in a spiritual perspective and not for promoting materialism and atheism as is happening most unfortunately in the West.