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Islamology: The Basic Design for a School of Thought and Action

Ali Shariati

I present a geometrical figure of a school of thought and an ideology which every Islamologist and aware Muslim should have of Islam, not only as explanation of their religious belief but as a logo of a school of thought and ideology.

Gaston Bachelard, one of the greatest thinkers of our age, comparable to Descartes and Plato, who, unfortunately died a few years ago being quite unknown, believed that when an idea can be conceptualized in a geometric form, it has found its proper language in which to express and explain itself. That is, when an idea finds geometrical expression, this idea has found the best language of its expression.

Any idea which can be conceptualized and then expressed through a geometric form, is itself proof of its being both valid and sound. The most exact scientific concepts in the world are mathematical ones. If we are able to express our philosophical or ideological ideas in mathematical or geometrical language, we have both found the best language to express our concepts as well as the best proof of the fact that intellectual ideas are logical as opposed to philosophies and religions which have to engage in discussion, argumentation, sophistry, debates and comparisons to prove their logic. There, one will have chosen the weakest language of expression from the view of reasoning and logic.

If, instead, one could make use of mathematics as the language of expression for an intellectual, philosophical or religious school or even literary or artistic school, it is then that a school of thought will have succeeded in finding expression through logical reasoning, proving itself to be both logical and scientific.

I wanted to add just one point. A school shows whether or not it is a natural form, whether or not its curve is normal or abnormal, whether or not its form is heterogeneous or homogeneous through the geometric form in which it is expressed. That is, one can understand the natural qualities of a school from its geometric expression...

Scholars and Scholars

There is a great difference between knowledge which has been understood and knowledge which has just been learned. You may know people who are very knowledgeable about a famous person, book or school but not understand the person, book or school. What is the difference between these two? If I succeed in expressing the difference between these two, I will, then, have succeeded in explaining the difference between a real Islamic scholar and a person who has simply learned about Islam but does not understand it.

There are some Islamic scholars who understand Islam and there are some Islamic scholars many, as a matter of fact who have only learned about Islam. On the other hand, there are some who understand Islam well but are not considered to be Islamic scholars.

The same difference exists in literature, in the case of some professors who know, for instance, how many manuscripts of the poems of Hafiz exist in the world, where each one is, what the weight or dimension of the volumes are, how many poems or which different ones are included in each edition and who know the names and attributes of all those who were praised by Hafiz, what effect they had upon him, what their position was in relation to him, etc. They know how many Persian or Arabic words exist in Hafiz's poems or they know all of the allusions and historical references made by Hafiz, but they in no way understand Hafiz. Understanding Hafiz is something else. These 'Hafiz-ologists' have no spiritual or intellectual sympathy with Hafiz. Thus, understanding Hafiz differs from having learned some things about him.

The same is true in regard to a person. Look at any thinker or artist. Someone may come along and take down all the physical characteristics of a person and define each cell in his body, know his complete physiology, his age, etc. and have very accurate information about him but not understand this person as a great thinker or artist. Another person may come along and in just one meeting, one encounter, with a simple exchange of ideas, come to understand this person better and more deeply than the other with all of his scientific information.

It is the same with knowing a school of thought. Understanding of a school of thought is not the same as having technical and detailed information about it. It is to have a feeling about the orientation of this school to understand it as a whole and not just knowing parts or sections of it. It is to feel deeply towards a religion or an ideology, to find the spirit and meaning which is hidden in an idea.

This is what I mean by understanding Islam or Islamology not as a culture. Of course, the valuable aspects of Islamic culture and Islamic sciences which are important sources of Islamic civilization, should be studied. By Islamology I mean the understanding of the ideology of Islam, not just Islamic sciences which are routinely taught in the schools and universities. It is as the poets, writers and artists of the people understand a poem, literature and art, not as those who are taught by professors of the Faculty of Letters.

All of the French literary schools of the 19th and 20th centuries were formed in cafes, not in the classrooms of the Sorbonne University. They began at first with the masses and those who had genius, feeling, sense of movement, enthusiasm and the courage to create a new school in music, painting, literature or poetry . Then it is spread to groups and gatherings in the cafes as well as through the intellectual and spiritual relationships of people here and there and on the streets.

It was then that the educated people of the universities began to oppose the new wave or school of thought referring to it as a deviation. They used the argument that the intention was to spoil art and literature and that the new ideas would impair the independence of their culture and literature.

The struggle and conflict began but the determinism of time and logic strengthened the new wave of thought and armed it with a new logic which weakened, defeated and destroyed the old logic. And, then, after a few years, the new 'condemned' school found official acceptance. It imposed itself upon the university. The professors of the universities were then proud that they taught the 'new poetry' and 'new art'.

Thus there are two kinds of understanding or knowing. One kind is seen in those who claim to be scholars of a school or a culture, who have specialized in the sciences and cultural ideas of that school. They have studied it and are university graduates. The other kind is seen in those who may or may not be specialists of that school of thought but they sense it. They feel it and thus know and understand it better than the first group because the second group have come to know the 'spirit' and 'orientation' of that school or movement and not to simply know it scientifically.

Islam as Culture vs. Islam as Ideology

Throughout the history of Islamic civilization, Islam, in the series of Islamic culture and Islam, in the sense of Islamic sciences, has become a complex of theological, interpretative, historic thoughts and words combined together to form what is known as Islamic sciences and each has its own specialized field of study. What one does is to study, gain technical knowledge and become an expert in one field.

But one comes to understand Islam in the sense of an ideology in another way. Islam, as an ideology, is not a scientific specialization but is the feeling one has in regard to a school of thought as a belief system and not as a culture. It is the perceiving of Islam as an idea and not as a collection of sciences. It is the understanding of Islam as a human, historical and intellectual movement, not as a storehouse of scientific and technical information. And, finally, it is the view of Islam as an ideology in the minds of an intellectual and not as ancient religious sciences in the mind of a religious scholar. Islamology, then, should be taught in this way.

To further this end, I will first give a general picture of a school of thought and will explain what a school of thought means. I will also explain what I mean when I say Islam should be viewed as an ideological school, not as a culture or complex of sciences. Two questions, then, should be answered: First, what is a school of thought or doctrine? Second, what is Islam itself as an ideological school? I will try to give an accurate description of ideological concepts.

The Idea of a School of Thought

I will first explain a school of thought as an idea and then offer it in the form of a geometric design. When I say 'maktab', school of thought, I mean a harmonious collection of philosophical concepts, religious beliefs, ethical values and practical methods which, through a rational relationship, create a moving, meaningful, directed and united body which is alive, all parts of it being nourished by one spirit.

An expert may or may not have a school of thought but if he has one, even if, for instance, he be a physicist, you can guess what his views are in regard to economic or class issues before he says anything about what he thinks. If he be an economist, and have a school of thought, you can foresee what his philosophical views are in regard to nature.

Why? Because all of the views on economics, sociology, religion, philosophy and even on art and literature of a person who believes in a particular school of thought, have a cause and effect relationship to each other.

Thus, by knowing one dimension of his views, you can guess the other dimensions of his intellectual concepts or his intuitions. If one believes in a school of thought, one's beliefs, emotions, way of life, politics, social views, intellectual, religious and ethical concepts are not separate but interrelated. They are alive with one spirit, existing harmoniously in one form.

A fascist, existentialist or Marxist has a school of thought. You may know a physicist who is, say, a fascist. In that case, you can say that from the psychological point of view, he believes in the psychology of racism and racial discrimination. From the political point of view, he believes in nationalism and realism and from the social point of view, he believes in the authenticity of the family.

As he has a school of thought, his political, economic or even literary beliefs are in harmony, coordinated and united. These develop a general form and this form is called 'ideological school'.

On the other hand, take a physicist who has no school of thought. What is his orientation? From the economic point of view, he has none. He has no opinion, or, if he has, what is it? Does he move on the left, right or center? You do not know. You have to ask him. Such a person discusses issues from all sides. You have to first listen to his discussions to see what his opinion is and then conclude that his view is this or that because it is possible that in every area, he take a different approach, a particular belief because he does not believe in a school of thought.

A person who has a 'maktab' thinks about all issues of life ideological, literary, artistic, historic, whatever. His conclusion about issues is coordinated and in harmony with his ideology and beliefs.

For example, you may see a man who believes in a committed social school. Although he has not said a single word about literature or art, because he belongs to a committed social school of thought, you know that he does not believe in literature for literature's sake, art for art's sake or poetry for poetry's sake or in 1iterature as a language for personal feelings', but he most certainly believes that art and literature must be at the service of social struggle because he believes in a school of social commitment.

Thus, a school of thought and action is like a galaxy in which every individual sensation, social behavior, ethical character and, in particular, philosophical, religious and social idea of a person, are each like a planet which revolves around one sun in a coordinated, meaningful galaxy, a galaxy moving in one direction and coordinated in movement. This is the mental image of a person who believes in a school of thought. This is the school of thought which creates movement, builds and brings about social power. It is this which gives a mission, commitment and responsibility to a person.

Expertise and science do not have the same effect

From the time when Islam turned from an 'ideological school' to 'cultural knowledge' and a 'collection of religious sciences', it lost its ability and power for creating 'movement', 'commitment', 'responsibility' and 'social awareness' and it was held back from having any effect or influence upon the fate of human society. When we say that 'a school of thought is a complete intellectual form of a person who believes in an idea', what is that form? I have not taken this very simple figure from anywhere. I have made it from my studies on different ideologies and research on ideas and beliefs and ideological, religious and social schools, I have designed a form which is not only useful from the point of view of expressing an idea, but it is also helpful as a means for teaching and explaining what is called 'an ideological school of thought', not only as a form, which is simple, but as a means of expression from the view of its contents which itself is of special concern in a 'maktab'. It is based on the theory that a perfect ideological school which includes all of the intellectual forms of a school of thought has such a complete form.

The Infrastructure and Supra-structure of a Belief System

When I refer to infrastructure, I am referring to the foundation of a belief system or the attitudes developed from principles of that belief system which have a causal relationship with the supra-structure. By supra-structure, I mean the ideas or effects developed through three pillars which form the 'ideology' and are based in the infrastructure of a belief system.

Each ideological school should have an infrastructure or a basic support system from which all its ideas develop. This consists of a 'world view' which each and every school of thought, without exception, has whether it be divinely oriented, materialistic, naturalistic, idealistic, fascist, Marxist, etc....

A person who does not have a world view is like a person who has an abundance of furniture and is continuously moving it from house to house. Nothing is ever fully unpacked or put in its right place so proper use can be made of it....

Having a great deal of compartmentalized knowledge without having a definite world view is like having all the materials needed to build a building but lacking a design as to what should be built It would be better for a person to lack the materials than the design. Here lies the real difference between Abu -Dharr and Avicenna, between a faithful struggler upon the way of God (mujahid) and an expert scholar, between a committed intellectual and an explorer scientist, between an aware, responsible and oriented person and an unfaithful, undirected expert, between an idea and a science, and, finally, between an ideology and a culture.

Science, art, literature, philosophy, industry, human beings, life, ethics and even existence itself will find meaning, spirit and orientation when fixed to a faith and the ideological system of a school of thought. This is only possible when all of these are based in a world view and when interpreted by its standards.

World View

Every thinker who has a school of thought must design such a form and then answer the question: "What is your world view?" A person who has a world view can reply that his world view is materialistic, realistic, skeptic, taoistic, multi-theistic, dualistic, monotheistic, pantheistic, aesthetic, existentialistic, etc.

A world view is the comprehension that a person has about 'being or 'existence'. The difference between Hafiz and Umar Khayyam is their world views. Khayyam says: "As no one has ever returned from the other world to bring news of that world (his world view), we must enjoy the present (his ideology)." Hafiz says: "As our fate has been determined in our absence (his world view), if it is not according to our liking, do not complain (his ideology)." Thus, an ideology develops out of the total context of a world view and these two have a relationship of cause and effect.

A person who believes that the world has a Creator Who is Conscious and has Will-power and that from the accurate accounts and reckonings which are kept, he will have the rewards of his acts or he will be punished for them is a person who has a religious world view. It is based upon this very world view whereby one says: "My way of life should be such and such. This or that must be done." It explains the meaning of life, society, ethics, beauty and ugliness, truth and falsity. This is to have a religious ideology. Thus, the idealism of Hegel, the dialectic materialism of Marx, the existentialism of Heidegger, Jaspers and Sartre, the absurdity of the futilism of Albert Camus and Beckett, the religion of Catholicism and/or Islam, the Taoism of Lao-Tzu, the 'karma' of Hinduism, the pain and 'nirvana' of Buddha, the unity of being of Hallaj, the pessimistic determinism of Khayyam, Schopenhauer and Metter-nich, are all world views.

Philosophical Anthropology

This consists of the kind of attitude which any school of thought has about a human being which forms its world view, such as: "What is a human being"?", "What must a human being be?" What I mean here is the kind of knowledge that exists in a school of thought about a human being, not the particular scientific terminology of anthropology nor the general meaning of humanism. What I am referring to is the real value, mission and meaning which a school of thought has in regard to a human being, not in the opposite sense of it. Human authenticity is a phrase used by the ancient Greeks, the Renaissance or the Schools of Radicalism at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century or the meaning existentialism gave it in the 20th century.

It is clear that a person is known according to his world view and every school of thought designates or defines 'human being' in a different way. One school calls the human being, 'a materialistic animal'. Another calls him/her 'divine animal'. Every school defines or describes the human being with another adjective such as: creator of the ideal, rational, economic, a producer of tools, free, decision-maker, lacking in substance, hesitating, prejudiced, similar to God, natural, social, creator of culture, civilized, conscious, etc.

It should be mentioned here that when a school of thought speaks about a human being, it is referring to the meaning and truth of a human being from the philosophical and ideological point of view, not the real creature described or discussed in the sciences of physiology, psychology, biology, theology, anthropology, sociology, morphology, etc. What I mean is the truth of human kind in his/her ideology, his/her school of thought and ideological attitudes and not in a strictly scientific way.

It is the truth of the human being which is described, not his/ her reality. It is as philosophy, religion and art speak about the human being, the way Buddha, Confucius, Socrates, Plato, Rousseau, Hegel, Marx, Tolstoy, Sartre or Abraham, Jesus Christ, the Prophet of Islam, Ali or Homer, Goethe, Hafiz, Rumi, Tagore, George Sands and Van Gogh describe, explain and paint the human being not as Claude Bernard, Darwin and Freud speak about the human being.

The same is true of history. By philosophy of history, I mean the concept, truth, movement and aim that philosophers or Prophets have about history. It is the view of history as a single reality which has its own special meaning and orientation as Ibn Khaldun, Virgo, Hegel, Marx, Emerson and Toynbee understood and described it and not as great historians and historiographers such as Herodutus, Gibbon, Tabbari and Bihaqi mention.

The same is true of sociology. It is what sociology means as a school of thought and not as a science in the sense of how a professor of sociology at the university describes it.

It is my belief that these three form the basic pillars of a school of thought view of the human being, history and society. These three have been shown in the Fig. 1. All of them rise from a world view and have a logical cause and effect relationship with it. These are the three columns which build a school of thought, the foundation of which is the world view.

All of the ideological supra-structure is built upon them. It is like an individual who is carrying the weight of a trust for someone. Every individual who has reached the stage of 'consciousness' and senses within himself the burden of a mission for humanity, finds himself like Atlas who bore the weight of the world upon his shoulders.

This concept is a concept of an ideological school of thought. It is a form which carries the truth of a human being because a human being is, in fact, nothing more than belief and struggle.


By this I am referring to the special human belief, based upon the expediencies of one's school in regard to human society and one's attitude towards it. The sociology of a school of thought first defines what it recognizes as the reality of society and secondly, how it has come to know it from the intellectual and ideological point of view. This is because the social view in a school of thought holds commitment to society as a doctrine for its ideology. It is not just a question of analysis of society without an aim or constraints.

In a school of thought, the sociology is in harmony with the inclinations, ideals and special views of that school. Based upon this, it judges, criticizes and evaluates. It is oriented and has commitment like the views of Durkheim and Gurwitsch as opposed to the sociologies most often offered at universities where the aim is only to analyze and come to know relationships and phenomena, to study exactly what exists as it is and as one sees it, to simply study effects, as it were, without any attention being given to causes.

The sociology of the 19th century was mainly an ideological one or as Europeans say: a committed social view. Today, on the other hand, along with the general attitude in other sciences, the emphasis is on distancing science from ideology and even removing any sense of commitment, holding back from any determination of good or bad. In regard to value judgments, it is deemed that the sociology should only judge the realities instead of turning to good or evil, offering solutions and guidance and accepting responsibility or social, ethical or even human commitment. In general, it refuses to accept an idea or adopt a determined direction or goal in either theory or practice. Instead of evaluation and guidance, it turns to fact-finding and analyses.

It has also announced the thesis: Having commitment, an ideology or a goal will harm science and will limit it to the frame-work of determined or particular ideologies, to particular beliefs. It will automatically take the issue in hand. It will direct it towards the goal in which it has faith. As a result, science, instead of objectively searching for the truth, whatever it may be, will be obliged to seek pre-determined results which serve and confirm the belief system.

This is because, in this view, a 'committed researcher' (someone committed to religion or atheism, spirituality or materiality, socialism or capitalism, freedom or dictatorship, etc.) can naturally not be free. One cannot be a researcher who has unlimited or unbounded opinions so that nothing will influence one's research and taint any result one may attain.

For instance, a committed sociologist cannot be an objective and free scholar of history. Why? Because in the study of history, one just looks for class struggle. Whenever one finds it, it confirms one's view and whenever one does not find it, he/she justifies it.

Wherever one finds something that opposes this view, one ignores it. Sometimes one does not even see it and cannot see it because one is wearing glasses colored with one's particular ideological views.

The same is true, in this view, of a religious physicist who continuously searches for God in one's scientific research. In contrast to this person, a materialistic physicist sees everywhere to be empty of God. Thus, only that researcher can objectively understand the physical world as it really is who is free of both of these bonds.

We see how firm these arguments are and, from one point of view, they are sound in the sense that we saw in the Middle Ages, because of religious commitment, science and research were obliged to only prove those truths which had previously been suggested by the religious scholars. They attained results which Christianity had predetermined.

In the 19th century, the sciences, in particular, the social sciences like history and sociology, so strongly opposed the scientist having a belief system and predetermined ideas fixed by various parties involving the laws of ideological class or anti-class, racism or nationalism to the extent that a kind of neo-scholasticism appeared. Science, which had been freed from serving religion in the Middle Ages, in the new century, was now employed by a school of thought.

The necessity for releasing science from the narrow constraints of ideologies, its commitment to proving a party's position and justifying the racial, national, class, political and economic desires of the ideologists and philosophers created a most suitable situation so that because of one skillful error, those who supported this view were able to separate science from its mission and essential responsibility to serve humanity and to bring consciousness and guidance to the people.

In their study of realities in the search for truth, they isolated and separated science from the people with arguments like 'objective truth', 'free research', 'pure science', 'the non-commitment of the scientist', 'avoiding prejudgments', 'pre-fabricated ideas', which were all attractive and logical. This was particularly true with the social sciences such as history, sociology and literature which, more than other fields, could being consciousness to the intellectuals and guidance to the masses throughout the whole world.

What happened was that, using these arguments, modern science could no longer propose solutions, make judgment values, determine directions, explain aims, prove or deny ideas, give methods for procedure, show the way, criticize existing realities, suggest proposals for improvement or foresee suitable situations. It basically studied and analyzed problems, made unknown scientific matters clear and, discovered logical causes and effects in phenomena. There was no longer the mission of prophetic-like guidance.

Science has been separated from the fabric of society. It has lost touch with people's thoughts. Not being able to criticize the present situation, it could no longer help solve life's problems. It could no longer guide society in the direction it should, making the essential elements clear, causing public ignorance to decline and helping human beings realize the causes of their past and present miseries. It no longer concerned itself with the fate of society and its ability to control its own destiny and achieve its ideals.

Just like the pious and devoted people who are isolated by their piety, thereby making them easy prey for plunderers, impious and deceiving people, proponents of 'objectivity', in the name of 'objectivity', separated science from its commitment and responsibility to bring consciousness, illumination, guidance and help to human beings so that science could better achieve their goals and targets.

Sociology and history developed from this. Neither do objective historians nor mission-less sociologists describe what has passed or is passing for human beings nor what they must do nor in what lies their salvation. They were negligent of the fact that when they put aside their commitment to humanity and they became unrestricted by and indifferent to an aim or goal, they were then used as tools by those who play with history and the powerful elements of society in order to help them reach their aims!

By separating science from its service to people and its responsibility to bring perfection, consciousness and salvation to society, it automatically was used to serve the enemies of the people. It became a tool to further the decline, ignorance, intellectual and social servitude of the human being. As we see today, the natural sciences have been released from their commitment to search out the truth of the universe or to prove or deny the existence of God, but for all practical purposes, it has become the slave of capitalism.

Sociology is no longer disturbed by faith as it was in the Middle Ages nor by an ideology as it has been in recent centuries. It has become a science which proposes research and teaching behind closed doors. It is used to saturate the egos of the professors, to amuse the students or to show secret, imperialist oriented institutions how to humiliate, deviate and plunder the Western masses and/or deprived Eastern nations. It serves capitalist or anti-popular organizations by developing ways and means whereby they can dilute, pollute and essentially destroy the human spirit, resulting in man's stagnation and deterioration.

I accept the argument that prejudgment and ideological dogmatism hurts scientific research and that the scientist who already believes that he knows what the truth is cannot be a good scientist because research means exploring, analyzing, explaining and measuring the problems in order to find the truth. The physiologist who previous to making any study believes that the 'soul' exists or does not exist, certainly cannot find the real truth. A believing capitalist or communist when he begins to study history in order to find the truth and understand the intellectual movement of history, will finally discover those very truths that he already believed in.

The Tradition which clearly states; "Anyone who interprets the Quran with his own 'opinion' will be burnt in a fire," explains the said scientific principle.

'Opinion' here is the same as pre-judgment. It is a pre-judgment which either consciously or unconsciously makes the scientist change the meaning of the Quran so that it agrees with his own pre-determined opinion, instead of interpreting its meaning. It is for this reason that we see when Sunnis, Shi'ites, Sufis, philosophers, etc. study the Quran, they achieve the same results as they had before they began . The Quran has become a means for proving their ideas not that they obtain their ideas from it.

It is both amusing and tragic that someone interpreted the word 'opinion' in the Tradition as 'intellect', concluding that no one has the right to interpret the Quran with his own intellect! as if there were something other than the intellect by which means one understand something!

They have purposefully done this so that people will not understand the Quran. The same was true in the Middle Ages where the reading and understanding of the Bible and the Pentateuch belonged exclusively to the priests and clergymen. They prevented the translation, interpretation and distribution so that people would not be able to refer to them. In this way, the books of salvation remained in the possession of the official religious clergy.

This same thing has been done with the Quran. By preventing people from studying the Quran and thinking about it, religious scholars made it into a book so that only its form remained for the people. Its spirit, purpose and aim remain unknown. They turned it into phrases and verses of secret words without their meaning being understood. As has been pointed out and as the Quran warned, they interpreted the Quran with their own pre-conceived ideas and not with their minds or the use of logic.

Thus, there are two basic theories. The first science at, the service of a belief system makes science the means for justifying pre-conceived notions. The second science free of any belief system and for the sake of science alone makes science ineffective and valueless. In the name of objectivity, it lacks purpose. As a result, the scientist no longer serves the people and society and for all practical purposes, science is either rendered sterile or is made use of to serve the powerful, wealthy and/or deceivers.

I propose a third way: Scientists, prior to undertaking any research, must be free of any particular beliefs and after achieving results, be bound by them.

Before undertaking any study, scientists must not be committed to the extent that through the studies they are about to under-take, they will, of necessity, prove their own pre-conceived notions. Rather, the results of the research itself, not researchers, should show the truth to them and then this proven truth become a belief for researchers. After realizing the truth, they should be committed to it and realize their responsibility to it as well as their responsibility towards people and their times for their own scientific consciousness. That it, the belief or idea which their research proved to them.

This way, then, neither enslaves science nor confirms pre-conceived ideas. It does not prevent science from performing its function of guidance and showing the way of salvation to the people. It does not remove it from seeing to the needs of the human being, service to human society, criticizing, offering solutions and showing truth and falsehood. It does not isolate science in the university nor is it to be used exclusively by the powerful opportunists or those who wish to deceive.

Sociologists, historians or anthropologists should not allow their knowledge to be used to justify and confirm their pre-conceived and unscientific notions. They should not allow those who believe to use science as a means to their goals. Neither should they stop with this knowledge, that is, be satisfied with a logical and scientific analysis and explanation of the causes of history, society and present day human beings.

Rather, after discovering the truth, after an objective and unprejudiced search, they should present both the negative and positive causes and effects. They should guide the people in a prophetic-like way. They should recall the causes for the back-wardness and degeneration of society or class or human kind, in general attained through objective research and then show the way to progress and salvation. They should endeavor upon this way and become committed to it, neither 'science for ideology' nor 'science for science's sake'. Rather: A guiding science committed to truth. Commitment to a belief before research harms science and deceives people but commitment to a belief after research is the prophetic-like mission of the scientist.

Philosophy of History

Some believe history to be useless. One of the people who did not believe in history was Napoleon. He said: "History is no more than lies which are accepted by all.

There are some famous people who looked at history as an art and not a science. One believed that history is not an objective reality like a mountain, nature, a sea, a man, a society or life itself but it is a poem. The poem is not an outdated reality which the poet discovers. Rather, the poet uses different substances and creates a poem. He invents it and creates that which had not existed. Using the same argument, history is the poem that a historian sings and not an external reality which he discovers. One historian sings it in one way and another in another. In this way, everyone sings it as he wishes it sung or as he is able to sing.

A contemporary Frenchman says the same thing but with more seriousness: "History is like a mountain for which I like everyone else make my own blocks of stone in order to construct the design that I myself have. That is, I enter history and select anything and any shape which I wish, cut and change it and then use the selected pieces in the construction of an historical building where I myself am the designer, builder and architect.

For example, the history of the French Revolution is not a reality that historians discover and then express. The historian creates it. It is the aforementioned mountain that an historian starts to build according to his own tastes, beliefs, needs and creative ability by selecting the blocks of stone for the construction of the history he wishes to have been.

But the philosophy of history does not believe that history is separate accidents of the past, accidents made by personalities, the powerful, military leaders, heroes and conquerors. It does not see history as material, stored in the past that a writer select according to his own needs and tastes.

History is the continuous and united process which moves and grows from the beginning of the life of humanity according to the deterministic scientific law of cause and effect. It coercively passes through different stages and encounters determined points which can be foreseen. Finally, it certainly and of necessity reaches its goals which were pre-determined by the law of the movement of history.

Just as a plant or a chicken grows up or like the earth moves within a certain period of time, so history is a living, natural reality. Thus, according to scientific laws and the principles of cause and effect, it has its own movement and evolution. Consequently, it is not a tool to be made use of by this or that person. It is also not an illogical or accidental process without having any goal.

As the flow of history is a scientific one, if I found myself in the middle of this flow, if I accurately discover the laws of movement of history, I can foresee the destiny of any society or other societies three hundred years from now. It is just like meteorology whereby knowing the laws of the atmosphere, which are logical laws of cause and effect, one can accurately foresee the changes of weather the rising and falling of temperatures, the possibility of rain, the coming of clouds, the occurrence of a storm and the blowing of winds.

Therefore, if we discover the flow of the movement of history, we can guess what will happen in the future. A person who adheres to Ws principle, who believes in a philosophy of history or better yet, a science of history, believes that history is a scientific reality and a movement which flows according to fixed scientific laws.

Therefore, the destiny of humanity throughout the ages is not accidental. It is not made by persons nor does it stand, move, incline or progress according to the desires of Ws or that person. It moves according to coercive, existing scientific laws which exist in the very fabric of society and time. This movement which occurs according to scientific law in society is called 'history'.

Therefore, history is a continuous, deterministic flow which moves according to certain strict laws. This is to believe in the philosophy of history.

But how does it move? According to which scientific laws? How can they be foreseen? Which direction does it take? The answer to these questions creates the special philosophy of history of each school of thought. Every school of thought replies to these according to its own views. As the 'science of history' has not as yet been discovered or has not, as yet, been completely recognized and accepted by all, we design it in an ideological school as the 'philosophy of history' and not as a proven, confirmed and fixed science.


Ideologies includes both a belief and the knowing of it. It is to have a special attitude and consciousness which a person has in relation to himself, his class position, social base, national situation, world and historic destiny as well as the destiny of one's own society which one is dependent upon. According to one's ideology, one explains the above points and on that basis one finds one's own particular responsibilities, commitments, directions, solutions, desires, positions and judgments. Consequently, he adheres to a special behavior and ethical system of values. That is, it is according to the world view and fundamental type of sociology, philosophical anthropology and philosophy of history that a person has, his beliefs about life, the relationship to 'self' with others and with the world.

It makes it clear how one must live, what one must do, what type of society must be made, how an ideal social system is created, what the responsibilities and commitments of an individual to one's society are, what types of conflicts, relationships, ideas, needs, beliefs, negative or positive values, collective behavior, scales of good and evil, social and humanitarian identity must be created and established.

Therefore, ideology is a belief system that interprets the social, rational and class orientation of a human being as well as one's system of values, social order, form of living, ideal individual, social situation and human life in all its various dimensions. It answers the questions: What are you like? What do you do? What must you do? What must be?

The various aspects of infrastructure (i.e. world view) and supra-structure (philosophical anthropology, sociology and philosophy of history forming an ideology) find meaning, can be understood and turned into life and movement in a school, when two points are made clear: Its views on the ideal city and the ideal human being.

The Ideal Society (Utopia)

Utopia is the ideal society that one conceives of in one's own mind, desires and struggles for so that human society take that form. All philosophies, religions and human beings have a different type of utopia in their minds. Paradise is the utopia or ideal society in the mind of a religious man. Plato's utopia was the ideal city for the aristocratic Greeks and intellectuals of his age. The City of God of St. Augustine, The Sacred City of Jean Isolah and the Society of Universal Justice of the Shitites, at the end of time, are all ideal societies.

In many of the ancient books, ideal cities such as philosophy of Jabalwa and Jabalsa have been described cities with idealistic people, government, religion, political organization, social classes, ethics, economics, social fundamentals, thought and culture. Therefore, contrary to what is superficially stated, the creation of utopias is the result of a need of every idealist for goal-oriented person. All of this shows that the desire to have a higher form of society exists both in the primordial nature of each and every human being as well as in the consciousness of each society. It is the manifestation of the evolving spirit of each human being.

This 'higher form of society' in a school of thought is not an imaginary or fictitious society but an ideal society which is formed from the ideology of that school of thought. This is because the believers of each school of thought believe in a human, free and ideal way of life and not only believe in the possibility of such a life and its certainty, but struggle to create it.

The desired, the ideal or higher form of society is the ideal mental image of that society which an individual or group who believe in that school of thought have about it and they try to change human society for that type of society.

Essentially, the existence of an imaginary society proves that the human being is always moving from the 'present situation' to a more 'desirable situation', whether it be imaginary, scientific, the utopia of Plato or the classless society of Marx. But the desirable society in a school of thought is a scientific and potentially objective society which is in harmony with the spirit and orientation of that school of thought, based upon its world view and is in accordance with its ultimate goal and the philosophy of life in that school.

Ideal Prototype

The ideal human being is motivated by a desire as to what he 'should be' and 'must become'. It was this person that the mystics sought to become. The universal prototype (Enson-e-Kamel) is clearly referred to in our treatises, particularly the ones on philosophy and illumination. It is the person who has reached the highest level that a human being can reach and evolve towards . It is a person who has released the 'self' from the bond of 1ust' and 'passion' and has soared as a human being.

Fascism speaks of a 'superman'. Nietzsche speaks about the man who becomes the heir of the gods. Hegel, in his philosophy of history, which is based upon his special idealism, foresees a future in which the 'absolute ideal', after passing the evolutionary stages of self-awareness of the highest form of man, reaches 'absolute awareness' and in this stage, the universal prototype.

The ethical socialism of the 1 9th century in Germany, which the majority of Hegel's students believed in, was trying to attain the human being of a 'sound disposition', 'the human being who is human', whose talents have progressed freely and soundly by struggling against both bourgeoisie 'this worldliness' and pious 'other worldliness' for both of these make a person defective, metamorphosis and alienated from the truth of 'self' and one's primordial nature.

Even Marxism, which is based on 'materialism' and as our intellectuals explain it, 'the human being' to them is an economic animal, speaks about 'a total human being'. This person is one who is total, perfect and complete. He has not become imperfect, paralyzed, cut into pieces or alienated. He has not been made insane by the system or been metamorphosized. He does not suffer from a sense of self-loss. He does not worship wealth. He is not one-dimensional. He is neither a colonizer nor colonized. He is neither a master nor a slave. He is not a seeker after lusts, a monk or an ascetic. He is not a worker who is without work because of the existence of reactionary and deviated elements, economic conditions, class system and inhumane working conditions.

Therefore, all schools of thought, whether materialistic or mystic, have a mental concept of a 'perfect type', a total person, an ideal prototype of humanity. Otherwise, a social philosophy, an ethical school of thought and a path to follow in one's life is meaningless because it lacks orientation.

A human model is a model which gives direction and causes us to move. It requires that both our hands and our thoughts be put to use in seeking or reaching towards that model.

The model can be used as a scale of life, an ethics, a means of training and teaching human beings. It is not possible to discipline human beings without recognizing the universal prototype and without having a universal prototype for the human race. We must know the potential human being in order to create that person by means of a developed, accurate and scientific technique or method.

Discipline means 'becoming a human being' and bringing one near to the universal prototype. If we ask those who are engaged in the training of the human being what is intended for each person to become, they cannot answer that such a problem is of no concern because they intend to change the present position of the human being. Therefore, the universal prototype must be clear and it be made known what type of person it is.

They cannot argue: "We are experts and are only responsible for their training and teaching. The universal prototype does not concern us. It is up to philosophy and religion to make it clear." Such training and teaching is similar to a carpenter who has gathered a hundred pieces of equipment and various kinds of wood and is expertly working on those but when you ask him what he is working on, he answers: "I have no idea. I am a realist. I am not an idealist. I just cut wood but I have no idea what it is for and who will use it."

We must consider the point that the system of human values is determined by the universal prototype who is in our thoughts and whom we believe in as a model human being, a symbolic model, the exalted human being that we must be and yet are not. The main aim and effort of training and teaching is to make human beings grow more similar to that model generation by generation. Therefore, each school of thought must present its ideal image of the universal prototype, otherwise all its efforts are in vain and its movement, without aim.

It must be noted here that a universal prototype or society which moves towards exalted symbols, ideal and exemplary models always destroys fixed moulds and standards upon its way. The universal prototype individual or society is the attractive force which identifies the orientation of a movement but does not identify the final or fixed form.

It is the factor of movement which negates the immobile and prohibiting factors. Fixed standards put the human being in pre-constructed forms and dimensions. It moulds the person as it wants while seeking the ideal it releases an individual from these forms and takes that person out of the stagnancy of each course of action and system. It moves the person in the streams of time towards the ocean and/or absolute eternity.

Therefore, as I mentioned at the beginning of my lecture, just as I do not believe in fixed and pre-constructed moulds, similarly I do not believe in non-engagement, non-commitment and irresponsibility. Instead of release or limitations, I believe the orientation must be selected not in its 'form of being' nor 'in being without form' but rather as an eternal evolutionary becoming, an eternal movement and migration not to reach a point but to orient towards a direction.

Therefore, a design for a school of thought consists of an infrastructure of a world view and a supra-structure of a philosophy in regard to the human being, society and a philosophy of history (the principal pillars) forming one's ideology, developing the ideal society and the ideal human being.


School of thought and action

Ideal Prototype

Ideal Society


Philosophy of





--|--> Supra



World View

-----> Infrastructure


School of Islam


Successor of God on






Protype of the School of Islam

Muslim Community



Temporary Revolutionary



Cane vs Abel


Commited Democracy


World Revolution







Mire vs Spirit

Divine spirit/Iblis

Four prisons: nature

history, society, self







Cane vs Abel


Religion vs Religion





Human Being



Courtesy: www.shariati.com

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