Teaching Holistic Harmony through Paradigmatic Thought


Part One

Introduction to the Concept Index

  1.  Teaching How to Think

        Two thousand years ago, the Roman philosopher, Cicero, taught as a foundation principle the following wisdom: “Before you discuss anything whatsoever, first define your terms”.

        In January, 2016, Tucker Carlson, the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Caller, explained the rationale for this wisdom, “You can’t fix a problem if you don’t have the words to describe it.  You can’t even think about it clearly”.

        Important in the arena of public policy is to conceptualize and clarify one’s ultimate purposes, so that scholars in academia who create paradigms of thought, as well as think-tank professionals who specialize in paradigm management to shape policy agendas, do not talk past each other, either unwittingly or subliminally by design, in a dialogue of the deaf.

        The ultimate purpose of the Holistic Education Center’s multi-volume textbook, Islam and Muslims: Essence and Practice, as well as projected textbooks on the other major world religions, is to bring together the best of all civilizations and religions in order to universalize their spiritual awareness and plurality of wisdom by interfaith cooperation in pursuing civilizational renewal through the vision of peace, prosperity, and liberty based on the interfaith harmony of transcendent and compassionate justice for everyone.

        The Islamic concept of tawhid, which emphasizes the dialectical coherence of observable reality that points holistically to the Oneness of its Creator, is based on the simple premise known as infaq.  This teaches that the natural inclination of every sentient being is to give rather than to take in life.  This natural instinct, however, must be guided by holistic education.

        As Thomas Jefferson, the framer of the Great American Experiment in self-determination, put it, “A people can be free only if everyone is properly educated.  Proper education consists of teaching and learning virtue.  A people can be virtuous only if both the personal and public lives of the individual person are infused with awareness and love of Divine Providence”, by which, as a Theist, as distinct from a secular Deist, he meant God as the Creator and constant Sustainer of both transcendent and immanent reality.

        Proper education for civilizational renewal includes the practice of teaching students the art of conceptual thought.  For this purpose Volume Three of this textbook presents all the concepts used in the first two volumes by either quoting or summarizing the contextual usage of each concept.

  1.  Practicing How to Think

The Center for Holistic Education’s index of the 1,150 concepts used in Volumes One and Two of its textbook, Islam and Muslims: Essence and Practice, is the first such concept index prepared during the past six hundred years, ever since it was a common practice for the classical Islamic scholars to write not merely books but a whole shelf of books and then summarize them all in an index of all the concepts used in these books in order to preserve the holistic essence of them all for students and future generations.

        In turn, according to a Georgetown University Study on improving teaching on the subject, this textbook is the first English-language textbook ever published on Islam and Muslims.

The Center’s concept index provides a paradigmatic framework to study the conceptual essence of any religion, but especially of Islam in which knowledge ranks together with love as its purpose and motivation.  Holistic education is the key to their application through Islamic jurisprudence in the search for compassionate justice.

        The top five concepts used in this textbook and the number of times discussed are as follows:

        Concept                                     Total Pages         Number of Times Used

1        Holistic Education                                    24                             158                              

2        Knowledge and Islamic Philosophy     12                              89

3        Islamic Jurisprudence                               9                              73

4        Love                                                             6                              48

5        Justice                                                      5                              47

The following chart gives the use of the top thirty concepts:

Concept                                                                   Number of Times Used

1 Holistic Education                                                                         158

2 Knowledge and Islamic Philosophy                                              89

3 Islamic Jurisprudence                                                                       73

4 Love                                                                                                     48

5 Justice                                                                                                  47

6 Essence of Islam and Reality                                                           45

7 Civilizations                                                                                       40

8 Tradition and Traditionalist                                                            37

9 Purpose                                                                                               31

10   Truth                                                                                                    33

11   Reality                                                                                                 27

12   Prophets and Prophecy                                                                    26                

13   Jesus and Mary                                                                                   28

14   Wisdom                                                                                               25

15   Community                                                                                         25

16   Spiritual                                                                                               25

17   Balance                                                                                                24

18   Freedom (see Pluralism)                                                                  24

19   Environment and Ecology                                                                23

20   Diversity                                                                                              22

21   Reason and Rational Thought                                                                     21

22   Gender Equity                                                                                    21

23   Harmony                                                                                             21

24   Interfaith Understanding, Commitment, and Cooperation         19

25   Ethics / Axiology                                                                              19

26   Natural Law                                                                                        18

27   Economic Justice                                                                                18

28   Symbols and Symbolism                                                                  18                

29   Democracy                                                                                          16

30   Tawhid                                                                                                15   5  


        The vision and mission of the Center is to inter-relate the transcendent and immanent dimensions of reality and based on this to address what is known as inter-disciplinary cooperation in research, forecasting, planning, and action, based on a hierarchical system of purpose embodied in both classical Islamic jurisprudence and classical American thought.

        Ibn Khaldun, writing shortly after the Mongol invasion eight hundred years ago, is credited with helping to invent the scientific method in the study of civilizational rise and fall as the essence of human history.  On page 25 of chapter 5 in Volume One of this textbook, and under the concept of Modern Science in this concept index, his view is cited that the clearest expression of the Islamic essence is to look at the big picture of purpose, which goes beyond the purview of modern science.

        In modern policy making the academics develop paradigms of thought as the framework for think-tanks to lay out the agendas that are influential in governing public policy, even though the policy-makers may not know that they are buying into one or more conceptual boxes of purpose and application.  Competition in such subliminal policy-making is why in both business and government the discipline of “management by objectives” has been important for almost half a century.  This is also why for more than two decades both academics and think-tankers have been developing the even more powerful discipline of “paradigm management”.

        In the field of comparative religion and comparative secular philosophy there are two major paradigms in the fields of ontology, which is the study of ultimate reality, of epistemology, which is the study of how to think, and of axiology, which is the study of ethics and natural law.  The first paradigm, known sometimes as primordial and perennial wisdom, teaches that there is such a thing as an essence.  The second, known as the paradigm of relativistic contextuality, teaches the opposite, namely, that there is not.

This second paradigm of contextuality is perhaps best illustrated by Hanns Kueng’s three-volume magnum opus which attempts to prove that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam do not exist as religions except as a series of constantly changing adaptations to changing contexts from one century and one civilization to another.  Naturally, the Vatican for many years forbid Father Kueng from teaching such relativism at any Catholic university.

A major issue and a major purpose of Volume Three is to provide materials to understand the essence of essence in the form of concepts that in holistic combination explain the governing paradigm of traditionalist thought in all the world religions and to contrast this with the modernist paradigm of so-called critical and secular humanism.

        A major purpose of the Holistic Education Center for Civilizational Renewal is to teach the open-minded to decide for themselves which path to choose or to choose another path, or to meet the challenge of orchestrating the validity of both.

III. Examples of Concept Management Tawhid

The Center’s context index is designed first of all as a teaching mechanism for post-graduate students of religion and philosophy to understand the basic Islamic concept of tawhid, which might be defined as the diversity of physical reality that points through its internal coherence to the Oneness of a Creator.  This is based on an understanding of tawhid as the precursor of both physical science and human intellection.

        The first two entries for the concept “Tawhid” in this conceptual index explain the challenge for both Muslims and others.  Page numbers refer to the twenty-one chapters in the first two volumes of this textbook, which are paginated independently, so that professors can prepare their own textbooks by selecting chapters best suited for the level of their students.

“From the very beginning in Islamic thought the great conflict was whether the Sunnah of Allah is limited to faith-based revelation or to scientific observation of the physical world or else consists of what today would be called natural law as including the use of human reason to include both of these sources of absolute truth in harmonious balance”.  (1:17-18)

“The Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad’s Sunnah together constitute now, as much as in the past, the enduring foundations for any viable Islamic civilization.  These are the well-springs and immutable sources of an Islamic culture and knowledge, and any genuine intellectual essence of Islam is contingent upon the efficacy of a fresh reading in the modern context”.  (4:4, quoting Professor Muna Abul Fadl, who was Director of the Western Civilization Project at the International Institute of Islamic Thought for several years in the 1990s).

Translating Thought into Action

Another major pedagogical purpose of this concept index is to help students not merely to think conceptually but to translate what they may have learned about transcendent purpose into immanent practice.  This process of learning should also help students gain insight into the essence not only of Islam and other religions but of this four-volume textbook.

        The heart of practice is well expressed in the five entries under the concept Order, as follows:

“The paradigm of balance or mizan, as well as the paradigm of moderation or wasatiya, teach that order, justice, and freedom are interdependent”.  (5:28)

“The pursuit of power, privilege, prestige, and wanton pleasure are transcended by the purposes of justice, the harmony of balanced order, and freedom of religion”.  (5:28)

“The basic paradigm of traditionalist thought in classical Islam and classical America is that order, justice, and freedom are interdependent.  When freedom is construed to be independent of justice, there can be no justice and the result will be anarchy.  When order is thought to be possible without justice, there can be no order, because injustice is the principal cause of disorder.  When justice is thought to be possible without order and freedom then the pursuit of order, justice, and freedom are snares of the ignorant”.  (16:13)

“The appearances of order can be obtained by superficially trying to maintain the status quo.  But the substance and reality of order can be achieved only by a strategy of dealing with the inevitable changes that occur in persons and societies.  Changes promote order only if they promote justice”.  (16:13-14)

“The most insidious threat to every person, every community, and all humankind is the temptation to abandon one’s transcendent purpose in life and instead to focus only on survival, especially through religious tribalism.  When a civilization becomes obsessed with maintaining order in order to survive at the expense of justice and freedom, which are the only lasting sources of order, the civilization dies.  This is the iron law of history”.  (2:2).

Interdependency of Concepts

The interdependency of concepts is perhaps best indicated in this index’s following concept title:

Caliphate (see Autonomy, Community, Cosmopolis, Esoteric, Exoteric, Extremism, Love, Monolithism, Pan-Islamists, Symbolism, Ummatic Umbrella)

        This proliferation of related concepts is based on some of the eleven entries in this concept index under Caliphate, as follows:

“A major issue and challenge both in theory and practice throughout much of the Muslim history has been and still is how to understand the institution of the caliphate and how to maintain it”.  (16:3)

“Many Muslims want a global caliphate to impose their own view of justice even though this would violate classical Islamic views on human rights”.  (5:25)

“Ibn Taymiyah developed a sophisticated understanding about the concept of the Caliphate (khilafat) that demolished the extremists of his day and ours, both of the tyrants and their opponents.  He deconstructed the extremists’ teaching doctrinally in order to marginalize their adherents.  For this he was imprisoned for ten years and died in prison”.  (9:13)

“Ibn Taymiyah declared that the Islamic Caliphate is not political but only the consensus among jurists and wise men on justice”.  (5:19)

“He asserted that the unity of the Muslim community depended not on any symbolism of the caliph, much less on any caliphal military or political authority, but on ‘confessional solidarity of each autonomous entity within an Islamic whole’.  In other words, the Muslim ummah or global community is a body of purpose based on worship of God”.  (16:4)

“In basic principle, Ibn Taymiyah would have denied the ultimate sovereignty of modern states since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, which elevated the so-called sovereign state to replace the ultimate sovereignty of the divine, thereby relegating religion to the periphery of public life or excluding it and with it morality altogether”.  (16:3-4)

“Extremism comes when people call for what Shah Wali Allah of India in the 18th century called the khilafat zahira or external and exoteric caliphate in place of the khilafat batina formed by the spiritual heirs of the prophets, who are the sages, saints, and righteous scholars and are far removed from any political process”.  (9:14)

“The greatest thinker of all time, Abu Hamid al Ghazali, restricted the role of the caliphate to an ummatic umbrella functioning only to protect the functional integrity of Islamic thought rather than to govern politically”.  (16:4).

Transcendent Jurisprudence

A major pedagogical experiment to develop skills in both conceptual understanding and practical application would be for seminar participants to reorganize and prioritize the entire concept index in the form of the eight universal or essential purposes of Islamic jurisprudence developed in Chapter Five of Volume One.

This eight-fold hierarchical system of human responsibilities and human rights are detailed with charts proposing an extrapolation of the purposes and principles of classical and traditionalist Islamic jurisprudence developed to its highest point many centuries ago by Ibn Taymiyah’s student, Ibn Qayyim, in the 14th century A.C. as the Islamic civilization was already in its last stages of collapse.  He wrote:

“The Islamic law is all about wisdom and achieving people’s well-being in this life and the afterlife.  It is all about justice, mercy, wisdom, and good.  Thus, any ruling or regulation in the fiqh that replaces justice with injustice, mercy with its opposite, common good with mischief, or wisdom with nonsense, is a ruling that does not belong to the Islamic law”.  (5:2)

Prioritizing the maqasid al shari’ah is so controversial that no book has been published on the subject in English.

        Some of the students might approach this re-constellation or re-ordering of the concept index within a prioritized matrix by using a quantitative technique to determine qualitative priorities in order to avoid the subjectivity of personal opinion (ra’i), or at least the appearance of it, by using the power of the Holistic Education Center’s textbook as a framework on which to build priorities within Islamic jurisprudence, while helping students, professors, and educational administrators, as well as public policy think-tanks, to think, forecast, and plan in holistic ways.

A real challenge for the seminar students would be to fit the concept index into the framework of Islamic jurisprudence each according to one’s own preference merely as an experiment in conceptual thought and paradigm management.  Almost every concept in Volumes One and Two of this textbook has some relationship to one or more of the eight universal, essential, and ultimate purposes in Islamic jurisprudence.

This would require skills in computerization and would benefit from further creativity as the limits of physics might cause Moore’s Law of increasing computer power to obsolesce and as the dream of passing the “point of singularity” recedes into the distance, when computing power allegedly is to surpass human intelligence, based on the theory that man creates all knowledge.

This paradigmatic premise of “singularity” is perhaps best addressed critically in three of the entries in the concept Justice, as follows:

“The most profound verse in the Qur’an as a source of faith-based justice is Surah al An’am 6:115, ‘The Message of your Lord is fulfilled and perfected in truth and in justice’, wa tamaat kalimatu rabika sidqan wa ‘adlan.  This teaches that justice is an expression of truth and that truth originates in the transcendent order of reality, indeed from the Being of God, not in man-made law”.  (5:27)

“Justice is the most universal value in all civilizations.  Justice assumes the existence of a truth higher than man-made or positivist law.  In fact, justice is merely an expression of this truth”.  (20:17)

“The purpose of all religion is to empower the truth by translating truth into practice in the form of justice as the Will of God accessible through deduction from divine revelation, natural law (the Sunnat Allah), and human intellectual processing of the first two sources.  In other words, justice is heuristic, as well as iterative in the back and forth dynamics of essence and practice, by constantly seeking knowledge about the sources, nature, and practice of justice in order to build on the best of the past in search of a better present and future”.  (20:18)

Part Two

Holistic Education as a Paradigmatic Concept


General Introductory

The Psychology of Motivation

The Development of Islamic Holistic Thought

Shari’ah and Jihad in Holistic Education

The Science of Knowledge

Holistic Ecology

Traditional Wisdom in Holistic Education

Holistic Education for Muslims in America

General Introductory

The first of the top thirty concepts or paradigms identified in Volumes One and Two of the textbook, Islam and Muslims: Essence and Practice, is Holistic Education.

Islam as a religion is a holistic and harmonious product of truth, love, and justice.  (5:20)

The goal of traditional Islamic education was to train both the mind and the whole being of a person, in contrast to the transmission of knowledge in the modern world from which ethical connotations are nearly totally divorced from training the whole being of the student, both mind and soul.  (12:3)

A major challenge of the 21st century is how to combine the wisdom of the past with the demands for material progress.  Failure to do so will result in the elevation of both tradition and progress to the level of false gods, each competing to destroy the other.  Success requires holistic education to combine the best of both paradigms in order to counter extremism and bring out the best of the past in the present to build a better future.  (22:1)

Extremism is either emphasis on selected aspects of a religion to the exclusion of the awareness and acknowledgement of its holistic wisdom and inner beauty or else emphasis and exclusive focus on the spiritual essence of religion without applying one’s insights in moral action.  (14:4)

The future of humankind may depend on whether the holistic and necessarily ecumenical vision of immanence and transcendence, linked together in classical Islamic and traditionalist American jurisprudence in the form of a primordial and higher metalaw, can renew civilization in a time of worldwide cultural decline.  (16:13)

The Qur’an emphasizes the basic power to choose among purposes or higher paradigms of thought, because the choice shapes the governing agendas of both persons and communities and thereby controls action.  (5:28)

Islamic jurisprudence is unique as a holistic paradigm of transcendent justice.  (5:20)

An encyclopedia of justice, patterned after the 15th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, is justified by its purpose to provide “a universal tool for the management of all human knowledge, based on the assumption that if all knowledge is not managed by those who appreciate basic civilizational values then knowledge will be managed by those who do not.”  (18:10)

In the modern educational system there is no qualitative measure assessing the value of the sciences; hence the study of theology is on par with geology placed horizontally alongside each other, rather than in the goals-oriented decision tree of intrinsic value from the most universal to the most fact oriented specificity.  In contrast to this holistic concept of knowledge most modern systems of classification are designed to arrange books on the shelf most useful for economic or ideological ends.  (18:12)

In addition to the lack of qualitative metric to the disciplines, another consequence of the compartmentalization of knowledge is that worldviews of particular disciplines are in conflict with each other.  (18:12)

Organizing knowledge in a horizontal line-up shunts objective reality to its lowest material rung.  By reducing the hierarchy of our intentions to only the pragmatic or utilitarian, we lose the greater purpose of seeking the broader framework of the cosmos, which for the pre-modern in general, including the classical Islamic thinkers, is the very substance of the organization and order they sought as signposts to the meaning and value of existence and what lies beyond it.  (18:13)

Freedom of religion means respect for every person’s free will. As a moral being, every person is free to discriminate and choose between right and wrong and to use one’s reason in conforming to one’s God-willed nature.  This is assisted by holistic education, but is possible only through the grace of God.  In Surah Yunus, 10:99-100, we read, “No soul will attain to faith except by the Will of God”.  (20:11)

The pulverization of knwledge into unrelated parts both denies the coherent unity of the cosmos in tawhid and is the principle cause of its opposite, which is chaos.  (6:12)

Natural law and theocentric justice are synonymous with the Will of Allah as the Infinitely Wise and as the ultimate source and ultimate purpose and guiding paradigm of knowledge in every field in philosophy, sociology, biology, mathematics, physics, and political economy.  (11:9)

The Islamic principle of tawhid teaches that everything in the universe constitutes a multiplicity that derives its coherence from the Oneness of the Creator inherent in the cosmos.  The opposite is the pulverization of knowledge into unrelated parts, which is the principle cause of chaos and denies its opposite, which is the coherent unity of the cosmos in the tawhid that points to the Oneness of its Creator.  (6:1-2)

The compartmentalization of knowledge in modern classification systems lacks the intrinsic values of a holistic arrangement and serves instead economic and ideological ends with worldviews in conflict with each other.  Compartmentalization defines the limits of relevancy; it brackets our definition of context and content and imposes measures of credibility that determine what we accept and reject as true or false.  The modern compartmentalization of knowledge stipulates the boundaries of discourse – what is spoken and what remains unsaid – and provides the borders of interpretation.  Such self-referential knowledge holds no other content beyond its immediate presentation.  (18:12)

Advocacy of a personal rather than a collective shift from a materialistic to a spiritual conception of reality is a call to recalibrate our priorities and concepts of cause and effect not merely at philosophical and theological levels but precisely as guidance and as motivation for community solidarity in social and political action to transform the institutions of society and overcome the built-in biases that shape agendas and control policy.  The issue is not either/or but how to pursue both the spiritual and the social in a tawhidi episteme of negentropic synergy. (17:13)

In secular thought a problem is something that must be overcome often by brute force.  In classical Arab thought a problem or mushkila can be overcome effectively only by restoring internal harmony through the wisdom of addressing cause, rather than mere effect, and by applying principles of natural law and normative justice.  (11:17)

Justice requires us to recognize that there is such a thing as the furqan or difference between right and wrong at an absolute level of truth, and that we are not the ultimate arbiters of it.  Jesus taught that as a manifestation of the divine he was an essential link in the multi-dimensional nature of reality.  He taught, “The truth shall set you free” (John 8:32).  This statement of ultimate reality and of the means to access it is just as true today as when Jesus spoke it 2,000 years ago.  (20:18)

In all religions the key to fulfilling one’s purpose in life and to the practice of compassionate justice are knowledge and education, based on respect for the wisdom of the past, which every generation has a responsibility to revive and maintain in the present in order to build a better future.  (7:27)

Holistic education and awareness of the universality of spiritual awareness can open the hearts and minds of both Muslims and others in America and beyond to the existence of other perspectives, together with emphasis on the humanities, including world history, geography, and cultural sociology.  (21:1)

The movement for reconciliation of tradition and progress encourages the harmony of holism in both the individual and society.  Societal holism incorporates accountable and democratic government, individual liberty, and human rights, and an economic system that is both free and humane. The purpose is to establish an equilibrium between the spiritual and the material and reclaim for our time what has been called the “permanent things” by rectifying the modern rupture between economics and ethics, reason and religion, and man and God.  (22:4)

Maintaining balance between the transcendent and the immanent is the key to the dynamics of civilizational rise and fall and to civilizational challenge and response.  Science at its creative best is the product of a search for knowledge of reality in all of its totality.  (11:18)

All aspects of human life and all things of importance, especially the permanent things in humanity’s past, present, and future, are covered from all angles in the Qur’an with a coherent essence despite its revelation over a period of twenty-two years in response to diverse contexts, which is one reason why Muslims regard the Qur’an as a miracle.  (3:13)

The pilgrimage as one of the five actions of faith (arkan al Islam) is regarded as the worship of a lifetime, the seal of consummation, the completion of surrender, and the perfection of religion, because in its many symbols it constitutes a university of all Islamic teachings.  (2:30)

The meaning and function of the Qur’an’s message – in keeping with all divine, spiritual, and philosophical messages – lies in its capacity to educate our hearts and minds to resist the aberrations of humankind and societies and seek to transform the world into what is best for human beings: dignity, justice, love, forgiveness, well-being, and peace.  (3:3)

Love of truth, beauty, justice, mercy, and freedom is the transcendent reason for our existence and both cause and purpose of every flourishing civilization.  (5:26)

Islam’s universal core wisdom permitted it to integrate the universal wisdom of other civilizational identities, which gave rise to a spirit of unity with the cosmological sciences developed by the Greeks and Chinese.  (18:8)

Sikhism enunciates a philosophical idea, Miri-Piri, which teaches a centered existence, in which the internal and external lives of the person are integrated so that our worldly lives have an active commitment to humanity, while being governed by an underpinning of spiritual awareness.  (7:26)

The teaching of Chuang Chou’s Chuang Tzu that soon everything will return to its opposite is a philosophy of inertia, which led to a fatalistic and pacifist approach to life, rather than then to the activist approach of Confucius.  (7:29)

The classical Islamic civilization from its rapid geographical expansion extending from China to France became heir to most of the sciences and philosophies of antiquity.  It integrated these into newly created sciences and philosophies that were profoundly Islamic.  The reason for the great interest of Muslims in them was primarily intellectual and religious, not utilitarian, and was directly related to the nature of Islam as a revelation based upon the primacy of knowledge.  (12:7)

The Islamic Renaissance or Classical period of the Islamic civilization resulted not merely from free trade, good governance, common language, and free thought, but from its higher paradigmatic purpose of holistic education combining the immanent here and now with the transcendent beyond space and time.  (11:9)

The two broadest trends of knowledge that emerged in the Muslim search for truth were the metaphysical and the rationalistic.  These were combined in Sufism, which maintained an esoteric framework of knowledge from Sufism but introduced a more rational theological and juristic approach to the same three overarching objects of knowledge: God, man, and nature.  (18:19)

All the great intellectual leaders in Islam believed that there could be no contradiction between the truth that God reveals through human intermediaries known as prophets, and the use of rational thought to observe and understand the created world through science and technology.  (1:19)

The Qur’an and Sunnah are the wellsprings and the immutable sources of an Islamic culture whereby any genuine intellectual essence in the Ummah is contingent on the efficacy of a fresh reading in the modern context.  See concept index on Essence of Islam.  (4:4)

The manifold challenge today is: 1) to cooperate in recovering the common traditions in all of the world religions, which have given rise to the great civilizations of the past, exemplified by the best of Andalucian Spain based on a progression from tolerance to diversity, to pluralism, to cooperation; and 2) to preserve and protect the enlightened ideals both of Islam as a religion and America as a great experiment based on the universal values of liberty and justice for all.  (1:19)

The governing paradigm for the Islamic civilization’s creativity in science, art, and architecture focused on the transcendent rather than on the immanent.  This contrasted with the European civilization where the governing paradigm was to control and exploit the material world as the center of reality.  (11:18)

The Prophet Muhammad prayed, ‘‘Oh Allah, grant that I may love every action that will bring me closer to your love”.  Prominent among these actions, in addition to contemplative prayer, is scientific study of the physical world as manifestations of God’s higher reality, whereby ordered diversity in creation points to the coherent Oneness of the Creator.  (11:9)

Islam reinforces the inborn human awareness that the ultimate in transcendence is present in the immanent world and that therefore this presence is accessible in every religion.  This awareness and its motivational power is the ultimate purpose of Islamic thought, Islamic jurisprudence, Islamic art, and all Islamic acts of formal worship.  (10:72)

‘‘God has placed within each creature’s essence a truth and a nature that can connect it with other truths.  Our Lord is He who gave each thing its creation, then guided it”.  Qur’an 20:50.   (16:18)

The personality of a person and of human community is healthy only to the extent that all of one’s activities and habits are integrated within a divinely ordained pattern.  (2:11)

The essence of Islam is personal awareness of the presence of God and of the inherent goodness of everything God has created, including human beings.  This awareness brings acknowledgement of one’s responsibility and accountability to be the person that God created as one’s real identity.  All of this is possible in Christianity and in every other world religion, but it is more compelling in Islam and much more intelligible, because infused knowledge and rationally developed knowledge are more intimately interconnected in Islam as a result of the doctrine of tawhid.  The term tawhid, which comes from the words wahid and wahda (one and oneness) refers to the coherent nature of diversity in the universe and to the oneness of both immanence and transcendence deriving from the Oneness of their Creator.  (2:2)

The loving response to God’s love provides the basis for holistic law as an expression of truth, just as ultimate truth manifests the Being of God.  (5:21)

Governments must base policy prudentially on practical threat analysis, not on theory, but equal emphasis should be placed on “opportunity analysis” in the pursuit of compassionate justice through peaceful engagement as an end goal in both domestic and foreign policy.  The base case for all followers of the Abrahamic faiths who share an opportunity mentality, as distinct from an exclusively threat mentality, should be not the extremes but the harmony of the balanced middle as understood by the great jurisprudents, philosophers, and spiritual leaders.  (20:2)

Grand Strategy in both America and the Muslim world requires a choice between the two paradigms of conflict management based on the pursuit of stability through creative destruction and conflict resolution based on the vision of peace, prosperity and liberty through justice rooted in an ecumenical and transcendent consensus on human purpose.  (16:11)

The Qur’an provides a comprehensive framework for the socio-political foundations of a just society, as well as for the spiritual life of the individual human being in relation to God.  The Qur’an’s message – in keeping with all divine, spiritual, and philosophical messages – lies in its capacity to educate our hearts and minds to seek to transform the world into what is best for human beings: dignity, justice, love, forgiveness, welfare, and peace.  (3:3)

The movement for reconciliation of tradition and progress encourages holism in both the individual and society.  Societal holism incorporates accountable and democratic government, individual liberty and human rights, and an economic system that is both free and humane.  The purpose is to establish an equilibrium between the spiritual and the material and reclaim for our time what has been called the “permanent things” by rectifying the modern rupture between economics and ethics, reason and religion, and man and God.  (22:4)

The traditional teachings of Islam on education, science, philosophy, art, and architecture expose and counter the various forces of secular modernism.  (12:1)

Effective education about Islam should focus on the paradigm of natural law, which is common in one form or another to all the world religions, especially in its major components of justice as expressed in human responsibilities and rights and equally in empowering justice through faith-based reconciliation, because these are basic to the traditions of America and to the classical teachings of all the world religions.  (21:2)

The traditionalists’ use of the term “conservative” equates with what was understood as liberal in the 19th century, because it focuses on the transcendent nature of human responsibilities and rights expressed in this harmonious arrangement in the moral order of the soul and in the social order of the republic.  (16:12)

Hossein Nasr has been criticized for emphasizing so heavily the need for education of individuals to rise above the regnant anthropocentrism of contemporary culture, for example in its obsession with material consumption, so that they can take personal actions in their daily lives guided by a cosmicly holistic approach to life.  (17:11)

The three major themes of the Qur’an are: 1) tawhid, which is the coherence in the diversity of creation that points to the oneness of its Creator; 2) prayer, especially remembering Allah in dhikr or contemplation, as well as meditation and supplication; and 3) the practice of good works, including charity.  (3:12-13)

The three bases of the holistic combination of tradition and progress are: tahqiq, the ascertainment of reality; masawad, equality in dignity and opportunity; and khadam, governmental power as a servant of persons and communities.  (22:4)

The Psychology of Motivation

The innate knowledge of who God is lies in the heart of every human being.  Everyone therefore in one’s state of forgetfulness (ghafla) in this world should strive to recall one’s primordial understanding of one’s origin.  The purpose of revelation and religion is to aid human beings in “remembering” (dhikr) God and thus awakening the innate knowledge they possess of the reality of the Divine, of the world, and of themselves.  Surah al A’raf 7:172.  (18:3)

The strongest of human desires is orientation, based on the longing to discover and follow one’s role as God’s caliph or steward on earth.  (2:11)

The inner truth of the physical world is addressed in the Qur’anic statements that, “The stars and the trees bow down to God”, and “It is God whose limitless glory all [creatures] that are in the heavens and on earth extol.  Each of them knows how to pray unto Him and to glorify Him, but You [O men] fail to grasp the manner of glorifying Him!  Whithersoever you turn is the face of God”.  This is the central message of David and the Psalms, which modern man appreciates only as poetry, if at all.  (17:6)

Secular art substitutes a subjective and conjectural valuation for an objective and spiritual one.  The spiritual dimension of reality has always been basic to all the world religions, but is now beyond the comprehension of the secular mind.  (11:17)

The Qur’an stresses mankind’s need for knowledge, understanding, and reflection, for it is through these that man realizes, to use the words of Christ, “the one thing needful” (Luke 10:42), the purpose of his creation, which ultimately is to know the truth and love of God and achieve salvation.  (18:2)

Jesus acts upon a truth that goes so deep and that has such a powerful grounding in the foundations of reality itself that every word he speaks and action he performs has a solidity and deep resonance and spiritual potency arising from its integral connection to the throne from which the reality of the world emerges and from which it draws its subsistence.  (16:18)

The eight themes of the Qur’an, especially tawhid, prayer, justice, and nature as a balanced harmony show God’s power and mercy.  (3:12-13)

Rumi said that the shari’ah has two essences, the input of love as a motivation for the output of justice.  (5:32)

The unending search for absolute truth is transformed through love into a search for justice.  (5:22)

        The motivation for the search for truth and justice is love as the basis of the classical Islamic heritage.  (5:24)

        In Christianity, the essence is considered to be love, but in Islam the essence is considered to be justice as a product of love.  (5:29)

Allah revealed in the Quran, Sunnah al Maida 5:48, “To each of you We have prescribed a law (shira’a or universal ethics) and an Open Way (minhaj or universal process toward truth and justice).  If Allah had so willed it, He would have made you a single people, but His plan is to test you in what He has given you; so strive as in a race in all virtues”.  The open way for Muslims is provided both in Divine Revelation and in the model of His Messenger, Muhammad.  (2:11 and 5:27)

Practical follow-up in addressing universal issues of conscience requires commitment.  In Christianity this is based on mutual love inspired by God.  In classical Islam and classical Judaism the commitment is based on the search for truth and justice inspired by one’s love of God and of one’s fellow human beings.  Both the search and the result originate in God’s love for every one of us.  (20:22)

A companion asked the Prophet Muhammad, “Have you seen God?” He replied, “How can I see Allah when Allah is light”.  The parable of the light of God is not meant to express His reality, which is inconceivable to any created being and, therefore, inexpressible in any human language, but only to allude to the illumination that He, Who is the ultimate truth, bestows upon the mind and the feelings of all who are willing to be guided.  (3:9)

The totality of absolute Truth is possible within the unique singularity and unknowable hidden essence of God – there all contradictions and oppositions find their termination and reconciliation.  But here, in the world in which we presently dwell, the Prophets drew upon their profound connection with the unseen, they recognized the true nature of things, they understood the vast substance of the ocean of reality upon whose surface the ephemeral world floats unaware.  “You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes”.  (16:19)

Surah al Rad (Thunder) 12:28 reminds us of our human nature, according to which “Verily, in the remembrance of Allah hearts find their rest”.  This awareness of God that goes beyond the rational intellect and even beyond the imagination is a foretaste of heaven and constitutes the ultimate purpose of one’s life.  (2:16)

In his footnote to the light verse, Surah Al Nur 24:35, Muhammad Asad explains that the “lamp” is the revelation that God grants to His prophets and which is reflected in the believer’s heart – the “niche” in the above parable – after being received and consciously grasped by his reason (“the glass shining brightly like a radiant star”), for it is through reason alone that true faith can find its way into the hearts of man.  (3:21)

Focusing on God by distancing oneself from the material world can revive one’s orginal human nature or fitra created by God before the creation of the universe and bring to light one’s inborn knowledge of virtue and one’s desire to seek God’s guidance.  (2:26)

The search for human dignity comes from the universal rejection of injustice and from the universal search for truth as the source of justice.  The core message of revelation to the Prophet Muhammed is summarized in the single verse, wa tammat kalimatu rabbika sidqan wa’adlan, “The word of Your Lord is fulfilled and perfected in truth and in justice”.  Surah al An’am 6:115.  Jesus said, “To this end was I born and for this I came into this world, to bear witness unto the truth.  Everyone that is of the truth hears my voice”.  John 18:37.   (16:16)

The Development of Islamic Holistic Thought

The human creativity that produced the Golden Age of Islam resulted from the pursuit of knowledge as an ultimate good in itself, in accordance with the hadith, “The ink of scholars is more precious than the blood of martyrs”.  (11:3)

Ibn Khaldun taught that the clearest expression of the Islamic essence is to look at the big picture of purpose, which goes behond the purview of modern science.  (5:25)

Cordoba was famous for its polymaths who were experts in all fields of knowledge from their holistic search for knowledge in both the transcendent and immanent orders of reality.  (11:2)

The Islamic sciences were cultivated in the bosom of the Islamic philosophical universe very often by men who were not only scientists but also philosophers.  (12:10)

Muslim scholars note that the Qur’an’s use of logic asks not for belief in miracles but for an engagement with its logical arguments by challenging humankind throughout the Qur’an to look (afala yanthuruna), to see (afala tubsiruna), to think or reflect (tata fakkaruna), to ponder (liyaddabaru), and to understand (afala ta’qiluna).  (18:3)

As a book encouraging human beings to seek knowledge, the Qur’an refers to the Ulul al Bab, “those knowledgeable of the gateway to knowledge” (Surah al Zumar 39:18), and to the rasikhun fi al ‘ilm “those firmly rooted in knowledge” (Surah Ali-i ‘Imran 3:7) as categories of human beings who have properly used their God-given intelligence to arrive at the truth.  Fakhr al Din Razi, who interpreted the Qur’an from a Sufi perspective, wrote that this verse expresses “praise and commendation for following the evidence supplied by one’s reason (hujjat al ‘aql) and for reaching one’s conclusions in accordance with the results of critical examination (nazar) and logical inference (istidla).  (18:3 and 46)

From a meta-historical point of view, a dialectic between the Quran’ic term ‘ilm and the word ‘alam, meaning world, generated the expansion of the term from knowledge of the Qur’an to encompass a number of dimensions covering jurisprudence, philosophy, spirituality, natural science, technology, economics, and political governance.  (18:9)

Muslims developed numerous “philosophies of nature”, ranging from the atomism of the theologians (mutakalimun) and of Al Razi to the physics of light.  For more than a millennium, Muslim scientists, philosophers, theologians, and even Sufis studied and discussed the nature of matter, time, space, and motion.  (12:11)

In the essence of Islam, knowledge is not pursued for its own sake, which could have devastating ends, but is designed to be useful by inculcating virtue and values.  Al Farabi’s final methodological basis for qualitatively assessing a particular body of knowledge, namely, the magnitude of benefits stemming from that body of knowledge, is less theoretical than the first two, namely, nobility and profundity, and more practical, because it deals with the internal and external needs of man and society.  In this category of usefulness, he includes the religious sciences because of their normative, value-laden ethics, best illustrated by the maqasid al shari’ah, which determines, hierarchically again, what is beneficial or not, or more-so and less-so.  (18:14)

Muslim natural historians and geographers assembled knowledge of a wide range of flora and fauna and developed this into a discipline of botany permeated by the Qur’anic idea of studying the wonders of creation (‘ajaib al maqluqat) as signs (ayat) of God and His wisdom.  (12:13)

The Qur’an is both a book of knowledge and a book that instructs human beings to seek knowledge of the true reality of things through disciplines ranging from metaphysics and ontology to angelology to prophecy to theological anthropology and ethics.  (18:3)

The arts and crafts in traditional Islamic civilization were taught by master craftsmen and specialists in symbolism, who taught the mind as well as the soul of the student, the microcosmic as well as the macrocosmic, and the cosmological as well as the still higher metaphysics.  (12:6)

Islamic philosophy lives in a religious universe in which a revealed book and prophecy understood as sources of knowledge dominate the horizon and therefore may be termed prophetic philosophy.  In accordance with the Islamic perspective it is based upon the intellect as a supernaturally natural faculty within human beings that is a sacrament and that, if used correctly, leads to the same truths as those revealed through prophecy, such as the coherent unity of diversity that points to the Oneness of the ultimate, i.e., tawhid, which dominates the whole message of Islam.  (12:10)

Developing coherent unity in diversity, which is the substance and purpose of tawhid as the core of all Islamic thought, gave rise to six methodologies.  The first three were to distinguish: the dialectic of essence versus existence; the absolute versus the contingent; and the necessary versus the possible.  The next three were to: 1) distinguish between utilitarian knowledge about things as the object of knowing and the epistemological nature of knowing and of the person who knows; 2) develop the hierarchical metaphysics of qualitative measurement designed to prioritize actions in a moral universe as part of an axiology of ethics; and 3) enrich the mutual interaction and support required from reliance on revelation, the scientific method, and human reason to translate truth into justice.  (18:41)

Five purposes of classifying knowledge and Islam are to: 1) reflect the Principles of Unity and Harmony within the branches of knowledge, in their divisions and subdivisions; 2) balance the fields of knowledge between the permanent needs of man and society and their contextually changing developments; 3) distinguish knowledge that is obligatory for the individual to seek (fard ‘ain) and the knowledge that is obligatory only for an entire community to seek (fard kifaya); 4) strike a balance of effort between the general and perennial bodies of knowledge and the more specific and utilitarian; and 5) catalog and systematically transmit the bodies of knowledge according to principles that would aid in preserving the worldview of Islam as a universal core of all religions.  (18:14-15)

In classical Islamic civilization all knowledge is categorized into the transmitted sciences (al ‘ulum al naqliyya) and intellectual sciences (al ‘ilum al aqliyyah).  The transmitted sciences serve to access the truth of revelation through Qur’anic interpretation (tafsir), the science of prophetic reports (al ‘ulum al hadith), jurisprudence, and grammar.  The intellectual sciences use human intelligence through logic, mathematics, and philosophy.  These two macro categories are mutually interdependent though the degree of interdependence has always been disputed.  (18:5)

In Islamic civilization the jurists, theologians, philosophers, and Sufis sought truth by pursuing knowledge through the transmitted sciences dependent on revelation and through the intellectual sciences of logic, mathematics, and philosophy, but the four disciplines of jurisprudence, theology, philosophy, and Sufism differed in their choice of subjects, terminology, purpose and goals, and boundaries of discourse.  (18:5)

The early Islamic philosophers, typified by the first founder of a discrete school of philosophy in the 9th century A.C., namely, the Peripatetic, specialized also on the natural sciences including medicine, because within the unitary vision of Islamic thought God is Truth (al Haqq) and all truths come from Him and testify to Him.  (18:21)

Al Farabi, who died in 950 A.C. and succeeded Al Kindi, who died in 873 A.C., as the leader of the Syncretist Peripatetic school, is considered to be the founder of political philosophy in Islamic thought by harmonizing the Platonic concept of the philosopher king with the Islamic prophet ruler and the divine nomos with the shari’ah in his Book on the Opinions of the Citizens of the Virtuous City.  (18:21-22)

The Islamic search for unity between religion and reason or revelation and philosophy reached perhaps its peak in the Andalucian school of moral theologians known as the Cordova Enlightenment.  This was led by Ibn Rushd, who died in 1198 A.C. and opposed both Ibn Sina’s Neo-Platonic Aristotelianism and Al Ghazali’s critique of it, and was led also by the Jewish Maimonides and the Christians Saint John of the Cross and Saint Thomas Aquinas, who borrowed both substance and methodology from the Islamic intellectual and spiritual heritage.  (18:25)

The most rational of the four major schools of jurisprudence, under the influence of Abu Mansur al Muturidi, was the Hanafi School, which taught that man’s God-given rational faculty without the assistance of any revelation is sufficient to know the existence of God and know the difference between right and grave wrong.  This approach led to the broadening of philosophical theology by Juwayni in the 11th century A.C. and Al Ghazali a century later and finally to Fakhr al Din Razi in the 13th century A.C. and Sayyid Sherif al Jurjani in the 15th century, and finally to Mohammad ‘Abduh and Sayyid Ahmad Khan and their ‘ilm al kalam al jadid in the 19th century A.C.  (18:19)

In forging a new synthesis of previous approaches to knowledge, Suhrawardi, the founder in the 12th-century A.C. of the Illuminationist/ Emanationist school of thought, emphasized inner illumination and spiritual purification and stressed an epistemology based on intuitive knowledge or “knowledge by presence” (‘ilm al huduri).  The three levels of knowledge in this paradigm are represented by those who have perfected only discursive philosophy, such as Al Farabi and Ibn Sina, those who have only purified their souls and attained inner illumination, like the Sufis Al Hallaj, Bistami, and Tustari, and those who have done both, such as Pythagoras and Plato and are hakim al muta’alih or theosophers.  These latter are also known as the school of hikma or wisdom, which combines philosophy, theology, and mysticism within the framework of Islamic revelation and therefore differs from New Age look-alikes today.  (18:26)

Ibn Sina also introduced a new cosmology known as the Great Chain of Being, which consists of descending levels of intellect and souls that illuminate the human intellect in the sublunar world, which “Active Intellect” (al ‘aql al fa’al ) is also the faculty whereby creation, through man, can begin the act of ascent, because it provides illuminative knowledge.  (18:23)

The cosmos of Islam’s “spirit of unity” led nearly every major Islamic intellectual in every field from jurists, theologians, philosophers, and Sufis to classify and organize knowledge into a unity in multiplicity as an epistemological science.  This effort in the modern world occurred in the field of long-range global forecasting by Ziauddin Sardar in 1979, and Robert D. Crane in 1980, and then by Isma’il al Faruqi in 1982 as a framework for the “Islamization of Thought”, known by some as the philosophically illogical “Islamization of Knowledge”.  (18:10)

A commitment to reform has always been at the heart of the Islamic project as articulated by such ‘ulama and scholars as Al Ghazali, Ibn Taymiyya, Al Afghani, Abduh, Rida, Iqbal, Baqr al Sadr, and Malik ben Nabi, who addressed the problems caused by the recurring imbalance caused by man’s quest for earthly fulfillment and material prosperity on the one hand, and the Reality of God and the ultimate primacy of matters spiritual on the other.  (22:5)

From the very beginning in Islamic thought the great conflict was whether the Sunnah of Allah is limited to faith-based revelation or to scientific observation of the physical world or to natural law as including the use of human reason to include both of these sources of absolute truth.  (1:17-18)

The classical period of Islamic Civilization from the year 800 to the year 1400 A.C developed integral jurisprudence and theocentric justice as the equivalent of natural law and the Will of Allah, which provide the paradigmatic purpose of knowledge in every field in philosophy, sociology, biology, mathematics, physics, and political economy.  (11:9)

The diversity of thought in Islam has always been unsurpassed in any other religion.  Scholarly studies today on Muslim cultural sociology and so-called “political Islam” include the role and definition of knowledge, the role of hermeneutics as a necessary means to develop any legal theory, the status of prophets (including Jesus), and the distinction between wahy or revelation and ilham or inspiration.  (4:6)

There is no division of ethics and law in Islam.  Man’s acceptance of trusteeship is subject to divine judgment.  All contradictions of internalized ethics and externalized law, of concealed intentions and revealed actions, are resolved in an all-embracing actionalism of the shari’ah as both a doctrine and a path.  This is why jurisprudence as a means to produce existential imperatives or law in a moral existentialism, rather than theology as a form of moral or teleological speculation and stereological ontology, has been the main Islamic contribution to civilization.   (17:12)

Shari’ah and Jihad in Holistic Education

The purpose of all religion is to empower the truth by translating truth into practice in the form of justice as the Will of God accessible through deduction from divine revelation, natural law (the Sunnat Allah), and human intellectual processing of the first two sources.  In other words, justice is heuristic by constantly seeking knowledge about the sources, nature, and practice of justice in order to build on the best of the past in search of a better present and future. (20:18)

Law is the basic framework of reference in Islamic thought, whereas in the Western positivist paradigm, human thought is the framework of law.  The essence of law in Islamic thought is transcendent truth but in a dialectic with practice, which requires a constant flux.  (5:31).

Three defining characteristics, namely, juristic independence, juristic pluralism, and juristic holism distinguish the shari’ah from Western legal systems.  Unique in Islamic jurisprudence is its paradigmatic approach to transcendent justice through truth, love, and compassionate justice.  (5:19-20)

A healthy community depends on the healthy personalities of its members.  The personality of the Muslim is healthy only to the extent that all of one’s activities and habits are integrated within a divinely ordained pattern, which is why Allah blessed humankind with the prophet Muhammad as a model.  (2:11)

The twin roles of traditionalist religions are the spiritual well-being and happiness of every person and the maintenance of consensus on the responsibilities and rights necessary to live in an ordered society.  (5:29).

Eight transcendent issues serve as secondary paradigms in the search for the primary paradigm of truth translated into justice.  (5:24)

A lawful ruler must respect man’s inalienable responsibility and right to seek, respect, and enjoy the eight freedoms in Islamic jurisprudence, namely, freedom of religion, life, community, a healthy environment, political justice, economic justice, gender equity, and knowledge.  (2:7)

Among the eight irreducible purposes, universals, or essentials of Islamic jurisprudence is haqq al karama, the duty to respect human dignity in social life, especially gender equity, as well as all the other seven maqasid or normative principles, which can be observed effectively only as a single harmonic whole.  (1:16)

Respect for political justice requires as the first of its five goals the Responsibility of Leaders and Followers to God, which requires as an objective the Practice of Virtue in Public Life, which, in turn, requires universal education to develop an awareness of God and virtue.  Chart 6 of the maqasid.  (5:13)

The major issue in the Islamic doctrine of political consultation or shura is whether this calls for direct and majoritarian democracy, in which the voters tell the rulers what to do, or for republican governance, whereby both the leaders and the led are equally bound by transcendent truth in the form of natural law, so the leaders are not bound blindly to the wishes of the mob.  The task of the Islamic jurisprudent is to address whether and how a balance of both approaches is possible.  (16:5)

Justice is the most universal value in all civilizations.  Justice assumes the existence of a truth higher than man-made or positivist law.  In fact, justice is merely an expression of this truth.  God reveals in Surah al An’am 6:115, wa tamaat kalimatu rabika sidqan wa ‘adlan, “The Word of your Lord is fulfilled and perfected in truth and in justice”.  (20:17)

The most profound verse in the Qur’an as a source of faith-based justice is Surah al An’am 6:115, tamaat kalimatu rabika sidqan was ‘adlan, “The Message of your Lord is fulfilled and perfected in truth and in justice”.  This teaches that justice is an expression of truth and that truth originates in the transcendent order of reality, indeed from the Being of God, not in man-made law.  (5:27)

The first jihad, the jihad al akbar, is to achieve real peace by submitting to the will of God.  The best way is to speak truth to a tyrant.  The second jihad, the jihad al asghar, is to defend the universal principles of human rights against attack by armed aggressors.  The third jihad, described in Surah al Furqan 25:52 as the jihad al kabir or ‘great jihad’, is the intellectual jihad to bring the wisdom of Islam to bear on all issues of conscience.  (14:3)

The intellectual processing known in the Qur’an as the “great jihad” transmutes the transcendent into the immanence of practice.  (5:32)

The highest form of knowledge is the transcendent wisdom known by the Greeks as Sophia and by Muslim mystics by the related term Sufism.  The highest form of wisdom is to seek justice by recollecting or remembering the origin of the primordial knowledge inherent equally among humans in their own fitra or human nature, which was created independently of the physical universe by God as a reflection of the Divine Oneness.  This enables every person to see coherent meaning in the diversity of the divine manifestation in the created world and thereby to formulate, appreciate, and follow the “ethical theology” of all world religions, known in English as transcendent law and global ethics, in German as Weltethos, and in Arabic as the maqasid al shari’ah or purposes of jurisprudence.  (18:32)

In Classical Islam, theocentric law is the ultimate framework for philosophy, sociology, biology, mathematics, and physics, as well as political economy based on natural law and theocentric justice, otherwise known as the Will of God, the All-Wise.  (11:9)

Natural law in the sense of theocentric and compassionate justice reflects the wisdom of the universe contained in the concept of tawhid, which emphasizes the totality of reality as an expression of the Oneness of God.  (11:9)

The bifurcation of reality between consciousness and matter explains why even Muslim jurists do not distinguish the transcendent purposes of Islamic jurisprudence from their social applications, so that we can holistically unite them as cause and effect.  The desacralization of the cosmos and the ensuing alienation has made a sham of the metaphysical and philosophical basis of ethics.  (17:7)

Islamic jurisprudence is the methodology of history in Islam.  By its application, temporal contingencies are judged by eternal imperatives, moral choices are transformed into options for concrete action, and ethical sentiment is objectified into law.  It is in fact the problem-solving methodology of Islam par excellence.  (17:12)

The maqasid al shari’ah or irreducible purposes of Islamic jurisprudence can provide a framework for public policy based on the modern art of management by objectives.  (5:31)

Maintaining the balance between the spiritual and the social premises of life is just as important as maintaining the balance at the level of program planning and courses of action.  Maintaining the balance at both levels is the major challenge to scholars and activists who are developing the set of human responsibilities and human rights known as Islamic jurisprudence and as the maqasid al shari’ah.  (17:13)

The future of humankind may depend on whether the holistic and necessarily ecumenical vision of immanence and transcendence, linked together in classical Islamic and traditionalist American jurisprudence in the form of a primordial and higher metalaw, can renew civilization in a time of worldwide cultural decline.  (16:13)

The rise and fall of persons, communities, and entire civilizations depends on challenge and response.  (5:23)

The Science of Knowledge

God permits man to know only what He wills them to know.  (5:32)

The Qurán states that, “We have created the heavens and the earth and all that lies between with an inner truth”.  Further, it states that in the Qur’an are messages for “those who study the outward appearances of a thing in order to understand its real nature and its inner characteristics.  (17:5)

Tawhid is the precursor of science and human intellection.  (5:2)

The Qur’an stresses mankind’s need for knowledge, understanding, and reflection, for it is through these that man realizes, to use the words of Christ, “the one thing needful” (Luke 10:42), namely, the purpose of his creation, which ultimately is to know the truth and love of God and achieve salvation.  (18:2)

The purpose of human existence is stated in Surah 51:56, “I have not created the invisible beings and humans to any end other than that they may [know] and worship Me”, because the responsibility to worship God comes from the fact that God is worthy of worship.  Everything in God’s Creation is worthy of respect and even love, but not worship, which is why the Qur’an warns so strongly against elevating any created thing to the level of divinity.  (17:8)

The disciplines of theology from revelation, of philosophy from human intelligence, and spiritual insight from spiritual understanding, which the Qur’an speaks of as the three ways of obtaining knowledge, came to be known as: 1) kalam or discursive theology; 2) falsafa or philosophy and hikma, literally wisdom but sometimes denoting theosophy; and 3) doctrinal or philosophical Sufism.  (18:5)

Sufi centers augmented traditional Islamic education with “divine knowledge,” known as ma’rifa, ‘irfan, or scientia sacra, to help the human soul become a worthy receptacle of Divine Presence so that it, in turn, can have more balanced awareness of the lower world of contingency by going from metaphysics down to the cosmological and psychological dimensions of reality.  (12:6)

The concerns of the Islamic philosophers, even when couched in Greek conceptual terminology, focused on the central issues raised by the coming of the Prophet Mohammed and the revelation of the Qur’an, mainly the Oneness of the Divine Principle, the reality of prophecy as a mode of knowledge, and the creation of an ethically righteous society, so that the discursive boundaries of knowledge remained within this universe of reality.  (18:20)

The concept of knowledge in pre-revelation Arabia appears to be an elementary concept of knowledge as a piecemeal acquisition of material data.  (18:7)

Experiential knowledge and gnosis, known in Arabic as ma’arifa, is one of the 750 terms and cognates used in the Qur’an for knowledge.  (18:2)

The word ‘ilm (knowledge) and its cognates occur 750 times in the Qur’an including: 1) intelligence (‘aql); 2) experiential knowledge and gnosis (ma’arifa) 3) understanding (fahm); 4) certainty (yaqin); 5) jurisprudence in the form of holistic, purposive reasoning (maqasid al shari’ah); 6) the development and application of rules and regulations (fiqh) informed by higher purpose; and 7) hikma or wisdom which came to be synonymous with Islamic philosophy.  (18:2)

One of the purposes for classifying knowledge in Islam is to catalog and systematically transmit the bodies of knowledge according to principles that would aid in preserving the worldview of Islam as a universal core of all religions.  (18:15)

In Islam, the jurists, theologians, philosophers, and Sufis sought knowledge as a means to truth and distinguished this from the objects of knowledge.  The search for knowledge was divided into the transmitted sciences (al ’ulum al naqliya) and the intellectual sciences (al ‘ulum al aqliyyah) consisting of logic, mathematics, and philosophy.  (18:54)

The utilitarian rise of science in the West was oriented toward knowledge useful for exploiting and dominating nature based on measurable facts.  The growing gap between the “objective” knowledge of secular measurement and the knowledge of the sacred, that is of such-and-such a knowledge, and knowledge-as-such, marginalized the dialectic unity of knowledge as a total complex of what could be known both as it presented itself and in itself, which had provided an epistemological framework within the values of an Islamic civilization.  (18:6)

Slavery to the object of knowledge without reference to a hierarchy of origin and the process of knowing eliminates awareness of one of the most ubiquitous ideas in human history, namely, the subject of knowledge and knowledge in itself, as discussed in Huston Smith’s book, Forgotten Truth: The Common Vision of the World’s Religions, and A. O. Lovejoy’s The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea.  These two scholars point to the subject and object of knowledge as hierarchic so that the higher levels of knowing and knowledge are qualitatively more valuable then what are below them all the way down to the object of knowledge without any intrinsic meaning. (18:13)

The macropedic perspective on organizing and cataloging knowledge from the normative framework common in classical Islamic thought was first applied in modern times in a relevance goals tree at four levels from the most general to the most specific by Robert D. Crane for the U.S. – Saudi Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation in 1974 and later published as a book of 241 pages in 1978, entitled Planning the Future of Saudi Arabia: A Model for Achieving National Priorities.  (18:11)

The third of the contemporary efforts to classify human knowledge from a classical Islamic perspective was prepared in 1982 by Ismail Raji al Faruqi at the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) under the poorly named project entitled, “Islamization of knowledge,” rather than Islamization of Thought, poorly named because knowledge is knowledge and cannot be Islamized except in paradigmatic formatting for analysis and dissemination.  (18:11)

Holistic Ecology

The fourth of the eight irreducibly primary purposes of Islamic jurisprudence, namely, respect for the environment, requires respect for the sacredness of nature and for human stewardship of its diversity and balance.  Chart 4 of maqasid.  (5:11)

Our failure to respect nature results from our alienation from it in a world where there is no participation in a shared reality beyond the material and in which there is a total and radical partition between what we call consciousness and matter.  How can we know the world out there if our process of knowing or epistemology is enfeebled and there is no common element that unites the knower and the known.  (17:7)

In Islamic normative law the goal or maqsad of haqq al mahid is primarily a spiritual concept that guides and justifies the implementation of environmental philosophy and action as part of the ghaiba or “the unseen” aspects of reality that can be known primarily by personal experience, that is, experientially.  (17:5)

The building blocks of nature are pairs and communities.  (5:27)

All living species have a right to live and flourish on earth, not because of their potential use to humans, but because their presence sustains the harmony and proportion of God’s creation.  A diminishing biotic diversity whose principal cause is man changes his role from a steward to a predator.  Knowledge that gives man a false sense of sovereignty over God’s creation cannot be pursued or morally defended.  ‘Mastery of nature’, with its implied one-sided benefits for man, is a concept foreign to Islam.  Man is dependent on a world he did not create, and therefore he has no right to destroy it, because that would be suicide, which in Islamic law is one of the worst crimes.  (17:11)

As a “practical” consequence of man separating science and faith into categories that do not even overlap, Surah al Rum 30:41 warns that because they have become oblivious of God in the pursuit of material power as a false god, corruption has appeared on land and in the sea as an outcome of what men’s hands have wrought; and He will let them taste the evil of some of their doings, so that they might return to the right path.  It is noteworthy that the earlier civilizations that carried arrogance to extremes, such as the ’Ad and Thamud, were destroyed by environmental cataclysms.  (17:11)

In Islam the fundamental doctrine of tawhid combines human ethics and divine law into a single discipline.  The Islamic emphasis on ecological balance is part of a global ethics fundamental to all religions.  This is why, especially in Islam, justice in our relationship with all of Creation, known as “nature”, is part of both economic and political justice, and vice-versa.  In policy making the two poles of danger are either to overestimate or underestimate the threat of environmental collapse.   (17:13)

Western economic theoreticians have developed parts of Islamic economics but few have had the vision to see these parts as constituents of a single holistic framework of a broad-based ownership economy, much less as part of a higher paradigm of trans-disciplinary and harmonious thought.  (6:6)

The issue of respecting the environment and ecology involves the paradigm of tawhid or coherent balance in the universe and the paradigm of might makes right.  Paradigms shape agendas, and agendas control policy.  This has been seen as a clash among civilizations, though in reality it involves a clash within each one of them more than between any two of them.  (17:10)

“Dominion ethics” may be replaced by “Franciscan conservatism” based on the Qur’anic Weltanschauung, according to which to infuse the natural world with transcendent ethics is the main purpose of man.  (17:11)

Traditional Wisdom in Holistic Education

The highest purpose of knowledge and education in personal and community life is to revive and maintain the traditionalist wisdom of the past in the present to build a better future.  (7:27)

No traditional civilization has ever sacrificed its vision of the Immutable for an ever-changing and accumulative science of nature, as one sees today, at the expense of forgetting the scientia sacra that is rooted in the very substance of our intelligence.  (12:21)

The progression of Islamic thought toward a modernist emphasis on the materialistic essence of reality during the past thousand years produced a counter-movement led in the early 20th-century by Sufi theologians like the Indian, Ashraf ‘Ali Thani, who helped revive “traditionalist” Islamic thought based on the spiritual essence of reality similar to the spiritual emphasis of the Scottish enlightenment in the 18th century in contrast to the materialistic emphasis of the so called “Continental Enlightenment”.  (18:19)

A major paradigm derived from the principal mentor of America’s Founders, namely, Edmund Burke of the Scottish Enlightenment, is known as traditionalism, referring to the common wisdom of classical Islamic and classical American thought.  In 1997, an interfaith coalition of scholars formed The Circle for Tradition and Progress in order to provide spiritual and moral direction to revolutionary movements that may oppose modernism but are very much part of it as products of Western secular education without any real foundation in the classical wisdom of any world religion.  (22:3)

The error of modern philosophy is to think that abstract rules and ideals gained by reflection, such as the contract theories of Hobbes and Rawls, are sufficient to guide rules and ideals, even though they may result in skepticism and nihilism.  In contrast, traditionalists believe that knowledge by participation, custom, tradition, habit, and prejudice is primordial and is presupposed by knowledge gained by reflection.  (16:21-22 and 16:15)

Implicit in the modernist project is an arrogant and naïve insistence that human fulfillment can be achieved solely on materialistic bases, and a belief in the absolute autonomy of human reason and in man’s presumed ability to create his moral and cultural systems in isolation from any belief in transcendence.  The modernist project issuing from a shallow, utilitarian claim of value-free rationality has come to pose a threat to life itself.  (22:4)

The balance worked out in the American System of government between order and liberty required many centuries of preparation. Totalitarian democrats have favored centralized government to serve the majoritarian mob.  Libertarian anarchists have sought in practice to fight all government as an enemy.  The mores and customs of Americans, rather than the ideologies of utopian theorists, have controlled the political process.  (16:14)

In the unending search for truth and justice all the world religions incorporate in one way or another a subordinate paradigm of compassionate justice that contains the universal principles or essential purposes of normative jurisprudence.  These form the essence of both classical Islamic thought from the third to sixth Islamic centuries and of the classical American thought that led from the Scottish Enlightenment to the American Revolution.  (16:15)

“Islamophobes” with a political agenda have attacked the Islamic legacy without any basis other than their claim that Christianity separates the spiritual and material in life.  Western intellectuals are quoted who address this issue.  (8:15-19)

Holistic Education for Muslims in America

The danger of American-born Muslims becoming aliens in their own country, as many European Muslims have in theirs, can best be countered by developing a positive pluralism so that they can move from the growing culture of isolationism and rejectionism toward a culture of ecumenical outreach, understanding, and cooperation within an educational paradigm of holistic harmony through holistic education.  (20:7)

The objective of Muslim think-tanks must be to promote what is best for enlightened American policy, not what is narrowly best for a self-centered “Muslim agenda”.   The process of education for transformative change must be pursued at all levels of society, but primarily by scholars in academia who can help shape the paradigms of thought that govern public life.  The paradigm shapers control the agendas developed by think-tanks.  Whoever controls the policy agenda controls policy.  (21:17)

Constructive policies that promote the higher purpose of justice for persons, communities, and nations emerge from competition among special interest groups and among their supporting think-tanks that purport to provide a higher paradigmatic perspective and ultimate purpose for nations and all of humanity.  The key to success at all three levels, namely, paradigmatic guidance, agenda formation, and policy-making is grand strategy.  Its operational key is networking among like-minded groups.  (22:1-2)

Governments must base policy prudentially on practical threat analysis, not on theory, but equal emphasis should be placed on “opportunity analysis” in the pursuit of compassionate justice through peaceful engagement as an end goal in both domestic and foreign policy.  The base case for all followers of the Abrahamic faiths who share an opportunity mentality, as distinct from an exclusively threat mentality, should be not the extremes but the balanced middle as understood by the great jurisprudents, philosophers, and spiritual leaders.  (20:2)

A paradigmatic transformation among Muslims toward a positive pluralism of holistic harmony and reform requires support from non-Muslims in a strategy to combat incipient terrorism by invoking the classical or “traditionalist” teaching of both Islam and America on human responsibilities and rights based most elementally on freedom of religion, love, and compassionate justice.  (20:7)


About the author

Dr. Robert D. Crane

Dr. Robert Dickson Crane is a scholar and a prolific writer and expert on subjects ranging from law to economics to international affairs and Islamic jurisprudence. He is a co-founding board member and former Chairman of the Center for Understanding Islam, and Director for Global Strategy at The Abraham Federation: A Global Center for Peace through Compassionate Justice. Dr. Crane received his B.A. from Northwestern University, summa cum laude, with a 4.0 grade point average, in normative (value based) economics and in Sino-Soviet studies, specialized in the sociology of religion at the University of Munich, and earned his Doctor of Laws (J.D.) in 1959 from Harvard Law School with specialization in comparative legal systems and international investment. At Harvard, Dr. Crane founded the Harvard International Law Journal and became the first president of the Harvard International Law Society. He practiced international communications law in Washington, D.C. with Haley, Wollenberg, and Bader.

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