the essence of Islamic civilization: Axiology and Societism
03/05/2018
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Ismail Farouqi

Tawhid as First Principle of Axiology
Tawhid affirms that God has created mankind that men may prove themselves morally worthy by their deeds.30 As supreme and ultimate Judge, He warned that all men’s actions will be reckoned31; that their authors will rewarded for the good deeds and punished for the evil.32 Tawhid further affirms that God has placed man on earth that he may colonize it33, that is, that he may strike out on its trails, eat of its fruits, enjoy its goodness and beauty, and cause it and himself to prosper.34 This is world?affirmation: to accept the world because it is innocent and good, created by God and ordered by Him for human use. Indeed, everything in the world, including the sun and the moon, is subservient to man. All creation is a theater in which man is to perform his ethical action and thereby implement the higher part of the divine will. Man is responsible for satisfying his instincts and needs, and every individual is responsible for the same satisfaction for all men. Man is obliged to develop the human resources of all men to the highest possible degree, that full use may be made of all their natural endowments. He is obliged to transform the whole earth into productive orchards and beautiful gardens. He may in the process explore the sun and the moon if necessary.35 Certainly he must discover and learn the patterns of nature, of the human psyche, of society. Certainly he ought to industrialize and develop the world if it is eventually to become the garden where the word of God is supreme.
Such world affirmation is truly creative of civilization. It generates the elements out of which civilizations are made, as well as the social forces necessary for its growth and progress. Tawhid is anti-monkery, anti-isolation, anti-world-denial, and anti-asceticism.36 On the other hand, world affirmation does not mean unconditional acceptance of the world and nature as they are. Without a principle to check man’s implementation or realization, affirmation of the world and nature may run counter to itself by the exaggerated pursuit of any one value, element, or force, or group of them, to the exclusion of all others. Balancing and disciplining man’s pursuit so that it results in harmonious realization of all values, under the priority system properly belonging to them, rather than under any haste, passion, zeal, or blindness of man, is a necessary prerequisite. Without it, the pursuit may wreck itself in either tragedy or superficiality, or may unleash some truly demonic force. Greek civilization, for instance, exaggerated its pursuit of the world. It asserted that all that is in nature is unconditionally good and hence worthy of pursuit and realization. Hence, it declared all that is actually desired, the object of a real interest, to be ipso facto good, on the grounds that desire itself, being natural, is good. That nature often contradicts itself, that and the pursuits of such desires or elements of nature may counter one another, did not have enough appeal to warrant a revision of the first assumption. The need for a supernatural principle overarching all the tendencies and desires of nature, and in terms of their contradictions and differences may be understood, must be recognized. But instead of realizing this truth, Greek civilization was too intoxicated with the beauty of nature per se and regarded the tragic outcome of naturalism itself natural. Since the Renaissance, modern Western civilization has paid the highest regard for tragedy. Its zeal for naturalism took it to the extreme of accepting nature without morality as a supernatural condition. Since the struggle of Western man has been against the Church and all that it represents, the progress of man in science was conceived as liberation from its clutches. Hence, it was extremely hard even to conceive of world-affirmation or naturalism as attached to normative threads stretching from an a priori, noumenal, absolute source. Without such threads, naturalism is bound to end up in self-contradiction, in conflicts within itself that are ex hypothesi insoluble. The Olympus community could not live with itself in harmony and had to destroy itself. Its world-affirmation was in vain.
The guarantee of world-affirmation, which secures it to produce a balanced, permanent, self-redressing civilization, is morality. Indeed, true civilization is nothing but world-affirmation disciplined by an a priori, or supernatural, morality whose inner content or values are not inimical to life and the world, to time and history, to reason. Such morality is furnished by tawhid alone among the ideologies known to man.
Tawhid as First Principle of Societism
Tawhid asserts that “this ummah of yours is a single ummah whose Lord is God. Therefore, worship and serve Him.37 Tawhid means that the believers are indeed a single brotherhood, whose members mutually love one another in God, who counsel one another to do justice and be patient38; who cling together without exception to the rope of God and do not separate from one another39; who reckon with one another, enjoining what is good and prohibiting what is evil40; who, finally, obey God and His Prophet.41
The vision of the ummah is one; so is the feeling or will, as well as the action. The ummah is an order of humans consisting of a tripartite consensus of mind, heart, and arm. There is consensus in their thought, in their decision, in their attitude and character, and in their arms. It is a universal brotherhood that knows neither color nor ethnic identity. In its purview, all men are one, measurable only in terms of piety.42 If any one of its members acquires a new knowledge, his duty is to teach it to the others. If any one acquires food or comfort, his duty is to share them with the others. If any one achieves establishment, success, and prosperity, his duty is to help the others do likewise.43
There is hence no tawhid without the ummah. The ummah is the medium of knowledge, of ethics, of the caliphate (vicegerency) of man, of world-affirmation. The ummah is a universal order comprehending even those who are not believers. It is an order of peace, a Pax Islamica, forever open to all those individuals and groups who accept the principle of the freedom to convince and to be convinced of the truth, who seek a world order in which ideas, goods, wealth, or human bodies are free to move. The Pax Islamica is an international order far surpassing the United Nations, that child of yesteryear, aborted and warped by the principles of the nation?state and the dominion of the “big powers,” both of which are constitutive of it. These principles are, in turn, based upon “national sovereignty” as it has evolved in the ideological history of Europe since the Reformation and the demise of the ideal of the universal community the Church had so far half-heartedly carried. But national sovereignty is ultimately based on axiological and ethical relativism.
The United Nations is successful if it fulfills the negative role of preventing or stopping war between the members. Even then, it is an impotent order since it has no army except when the Security Council’s “big power” members agree to provide it ad hoc. Per contra, the Pax Islamica was laid down in a permanent constitution by the Prophet in Madinah in the first days of the Hijrah. He made it inclusive of Jews of Madinah and the Christians of Najran, guaranteeing to them their identity and their religious, social, and cultural institutions. History knows of no other written constitution that has honored the minorities as the constitution of the Islamic state has done. The constitution of Madinah has been in force in the various Islamic states for fourteen centuries and has resisted dictators and revolutions of all kinds — including Genghis Khan and Hulagu!
The ummah then is a world order in addition to being a social order. It is the basis of Islamic civilization, its sine qua non. In their representation of human reason in the person and career of Hayy ibn Yaqzan, philosophers had discovered that Hayy had by his own effort grown to the point of discovering the truth of Islam, and of tawhid, its essence. But having done so, Hayy had to invent or discover the ummah. He therefore made for himself a canoe out of a hollowed trunk and set forth on the unknown ocean, to discover the ummah without which all of his knowledge would not cohere with the truth. Tawhid is, in short, ummatism.

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