Islam and Its Perspective on Knowledge

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ISLAM AND ITS PERSPECTIVE ON KNOWLEDGE

AND SOCIAL ORDER
Dr Zafar Iqbal

An Overview of Islam

Islam means tranquillity and peace. This word (22:78; 5:03)[1] comes from the inquiry that lies at the core of the whole edifice of Islam: what kind of life ought one to live to attain bliss (falah) in the here and the hereafter (1:1-6; 7:96)? The answer lies in reflecting on the purpose of life i.e., why are we here? What does it mean to be a human being? Are we the product of a random evolution of atoms and molecules clinging together or part of a bigger plan? How are we measuring up to our evolution or creation?

Revelation responds to these questions by taking the position that everything in the universe is part of a meticulous plan being executed by the First Cause - God - who is the Creator of all, each with sustenance and purpose (11:6). He has created humankind[2] not in vain but to serve as His agents / trustees / viceroys on the earth (6:165; 35:39; 57:7). In this capacity, they are required to manage the resources of the earth such that all benefit equitably[3] and the original balance in creation is maintained (55:7-9). To this end, they are bound by a covenant with God (7:172; 20:115) and every action that they undertake with the intention of fulfilling that covenant constitutes an act of worship (51:56-7). Thus the temporal and spiritual are inextricably linked from an Islamic perspective. There are several other unique features of this God-human relationship. First, the Principal here is the One, Incomparable, Sovereign, Eternal, Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Active God Whose Will reigns supreme in the universe. It is by His Will that human beings have limited free will and agency to operate the trust. In this larger context, humankind are in reality mere slaves of God dependant on His grace for every moment of their freedom and existence (34:9;…...

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