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The Crisis of

Modern Consciousness

Abdul Hakim Murad

Notes & Transcript

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We can offer our consciousness, our inward nature, our psyche all the gadgets, the bits and pieces the latest music and the latest websites, but we will not find that those things are nourishing, because what the soul craves/ needs is something else.

NB: This is an approximate transcript of the lecture by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad - covering almost verbatim - on the topic of the Crisis of Modern Consciousness.[25]

The following conventions for the text have been used:
- Some explanation of some words "EOW" in the footnotes.
- Subtitles and footnotes are from the editor.
- The numbers in the text are instances of the recording, so 5.39 is 5 min 39 sec.
- Round ( ) parenthesis are interpolations by the editor, when inaudible.
- Brackets [ ] are for clarifications by the editor.

{ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكْرِ اللّٰهِ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللّٰهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ }

{ Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah . Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured. } 13-28

1. Introduction
2. Distractions or the Real World
3. Acquiring the Prophetic Perception
4. 'Enlightenment' or Quran, Not Both
5. The Intelligent Muslim - 'Strange' in This World
6. True Islamic Radicalism
7. The Soul is in Need of Spiritual Nourishment
8. The Nature of Materialism
9. Quantum Mechanics and Causality
10. A Radical Interrogation of the Enlightenment Model
11. The Deconstruction of the Human Self
12. Which Are the Foundations of Ethics
13. A Time of Darkness and Confusion, but Also Light
14. Meaning of Tradition, Traditional
15. Which Discourse Is Legitimate?
16. Filtration And firasa - Imam Al-Ghazali
17. Rejection of the Modern World or Entrancement by It
18. The Ideology of Islamic Radicalism or Fundamentalism
19. The Uncritical Acceptance of Modernity
20. Being in the Middle
21. (Islamic) Moderation?
22. Summary
Qaḍa' (قضاء) and Qadar (قدر) in Islam


(A survey comparing today with the) 1950ies, the (British) Empire falling apart, people especially women happier then than now.

Real reason: human happiness sa`āda has to do with the state of the soul, sense of optimism, value, security, direction …, which the secular world cannot really supply.

Tsunami of gadgets: not greater human stability, happiness, Instead we find (ourselves) distracted from the central gap in our consciousness where spirituality used to be.

This is a function of technology: distraction and entertainment, it is to prevent us from looking at the catastrophic reality we are in, a reality which was once meaning and truth and now is confusion and relativism.30

2. Distractions or the Real World

That is the modern world = a brilliant series of distractions1

"Technology is the method human beings employ to prevent them from experiencing the world." Max Frisch

The real world: that is which we have to engage ourselves with if we truly want to be at ease with ourselves. …with the world of nature, the world of the spirit within.

The spiritual quest: belief that 'underneath' of the forms of the 'material' world there is (the) principe of unity, and symmetry and [now-a-days] we need technology to prevent us from seeing how unhappy we have become (ghafla )2.

At the moment most people, like children, are happy with the distractions. The East is still the place of ishrāq (illumination)23, it's still the place where serious people go to look for meaning.

And the fact that the East often seems to be technically ‘behind’, and structurally decrepit should not - in the eyes of serious seekers - be taken as a discommendation EOW3, in fact that is probably a good sign.

If the East31 is lagging behind, in terms of the acquisition of ever more meaningless technique, then that is probably a commendation EOW4.

3. Acquiring the Prophetic Perception

The fact that there are still people who value leisure, who value contemplation, who value prayer and meditation, who value spending time with their families, rather than of more and more hours every day at the office in order to generate a heavier bank balance, more income in order to buy more techniques of destruction, is certainly a good sign.

We need to acquire a prophetic perception of the modern world if we are not to share in its unhappiness.

And a prophetic perception is necessarily a radical one. Properly speaking there is no intellectually coherent way of being a ’Moderate muslim’: as somebody who basically believes in the underlying logic of the modern world.

4. ’Enlightenment’ or Quran, Not Both

[The above is a] Contradiction which will eventually cause a spiritual crisis and spiritual death. 5.39

You cannot square this circle.

It is spiritually as well as intellectually impossible, (an) absurdity to try and live as fully part of an ’Enlightenment’, secular, post-rationalist civilisation and still be to committed to the revelation of the Qur'an. It simply does not work. Because the focus of the Qur'an is the akhira, not dunya. 6.16

Of course { la tansa nasibaka mina-d dunya }.

The fact that we are dissidents within the modern world32 does not mean that we can’t drive cars, … but what it means is that our look at these things, our regard of these things is radically incommensurable (out of keeping or out of proportion with) with the regards that the secular mind has with those things. That we regard them as humorous tools and toys and we give them no heed EOW5.

We know that the man who spends less time with his family in order to save up for a fashionable new car is somebody who has not understood the Quran.

Somebody who has put prestige over happyness, somebody who has acquired a new object of dunya 6, at considerable spiritual expense, simple in order to become more agitated.… He is throwing away his precious time in this life, i.o. to acquire something, that will just be a source of misery for him.

He will realize he has struck a poor deal - if he looks inside, and a few are still prepared to do that.

5. The Intelligent Muslim - ’Strange’ in This World

[This is about a] radical dissident perspective, it's not really a moderate perspective.

Things which make no sense at all given the assumptions of the modern world: - like fasting in the month of Ramadan - like in-calculating Qur'an memorization for his children - like spending in charity without anyone knowing - like thinking about eternity rather than the days left in this world. 8.40 Such a person is strange, gharīb.

The intelligent Muslim is one who recognises his sense of essential estrangement in this world. = Nature of the believer in any case, in any generation.

Story when the Prophet (saws) rose from his resting place, when he had marks left on his resting shoulder, which the Sahabah observed … (’Kun fi dunya ka-annaka ghariib aw ābiri-s sabiil.’) hadith:
‘Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveler.”7

And that is a radical word.

6. True Islamic Radicalism

But true Islamic radicalism in our age is not envy + resentment… 10.00

Dunya limited. Akhira unlimited.

Look for beauty Enjoy


Freedom 12.15

Market entrapment ... 13.25

What we are facing today is something of a new time which is [like] the day we are returned to the Pharaonic time, a reprise of the most fundamental human collision: between Nafs and ruh. (Qur'an Musa -- Firaun)

He's the ultimate humanist who wants to place the human in place of God.

[The modern deviation] Rabb a’la : highest God = the human being. 14.55

This illustrates the ancient challenge that materialism has to iman [faith].

Nowadays no one can escape from the tsunami of gadgets and materialism, this entrance to buy the latest gadgets.

Hierarchy 17.39

7. The Soul is in Need of Spiritual Nourishment

An internal hijra, we have to turn our back on something, abandon something.17.35

There is nowhere the flood - of materialism - has not penetrated.

Imam Mahdi will arrive,

…because human soul is ultimately not satisfied with bits and pieces, with gadgetry -

The human soul is crying out/ needs an /for authentic nourishment,

Rumi story of baby crying, mother gives it an apple [which does not console it], - we all are holding a crying baby* in our arms which is the spirit.

and *the spirit is thirsty - for the milk which is dhikru-LLahi

{ alladhi bihi tatmainnu-l qulub / at which hearts find rest }n1


We can offer our consciousness, our inward nature, our psyche all the gadgets, the bits and pieces the latest music and the latest websites, but we will not find that those things are nourishing, because what the soul craves/ needs is something else.

That is one ground for optimism that the sun will rise again - perhaps in a modest way - until the time of rising of Imam Mahdi, but we have the confidence that the history of this ummah is cyclical, and the believer is always in a state of (tafā’ul)? optimism.

Prophet Muhammad ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) yuhibbu-l fa…

The Messenger of Allah used to love optimism.8 Pessimism is a kind of despair and despair is near neighbour to kufr.

Allah swt (in our `aqidah) is always in charge of history,

This is the time of darkness, shadows, zulumat, people don’t see the light very much, that’s just an expression of Allah’s jalāl [His rigour] 21.16

Also some signs have become visible. 21.42

8. The Nature of Materialism

We live in a time of taghut, Pharaonic preponderance. 21.27 but also in a time where certain shard [piece of broken glass] supplies are visible and have become evident to a number of muslims (who) are reading the signs.

Let’s take a look at the nature of materialism itself, Today we / people/ are a lot less happy… (surveys)

Certain things have happened which challenge the idea of ’Enlightenment’. The ’Enlightenment’ is a false light.

Matter (in the) original ’Enlightenment’ idea/ every-thing is a consequence of measurable causes /cause and effect. (sababiyya / causality)

9. Quantum Mechanics and Causality

Quantum mechanics: The basic building blocks of matter are not linked to each other acc. to formal, calculable principles, but on the basis of uncertainty and randomness. 22.44

So also to have sababiyya / causality as a measure for human conduct is radically questioned.

So we have seen that the whole model of sababiyya / causality has been turned on its head. So often we hear semi-modernists blaming the Asharis or Imam al-Ghazali for non-emergence of a scientific worldview.

The Asharis famously deny in their very subtle way - usually ungrasped by those thinkers - the fact of natural causality. 23.40

However, we now know through Quantum mechanics, that causality - in the conventional sense of Ibn Sina for instance, or how the Mu’tazilites understood it - is in fact not what it seems to be.

That instead the relationship between cause and effect is something that is ungraspable. That we now know - and physicists in Cambridge are certainly talking this way - that the present is a consequence not only of events in the past, but also of events in the future. Quantum mechanics insist that there are super-luminary particles travelling faster than the speed of light and that therefore - on the Quantum model - travel ‘back in time.’ And these particles are influencing our current reality, the current configuration, instantiation of matter, that is in the now. This means that the future already exists. 24.37

And this ‘reverse causality’9 is given us to understand that the future already exists, and therefore time - understood as the development of future possibilities and latencies, which are multiple, on the basis of current choices - is no longer what it seemed to be - to Ptolemean physics10 and therefore to the materialist who frames the worldview at the time of the ’Enlightenment’ and subsequently. 25.13

This is a radical perspective and seems to vindicate the Ashari view and also Imam al-Ghazali’s view, which is that causality - although a helpful model in terms of what usually happens - (what in `aqidah we call the aada11 is not a sufficient explanation of what things are.

Similarly the idea that the future is simply an unlimited range of unrealized possibilities, has been largely discredited, in favour of the perspective that the future is already there, because if it is influencing the present that means that it has an ontological reality, which is already there, which is influencing us. 25.51 The future already exists.

And the determinist consequences of this is for the ’Enlightenment’ belief in human free will - ”we are so glorious, we can do what we will, we can shape our own future” - has been philosophically quite calamitous. 26.07

The future is already there, therefore there is - what we call - the qaḍah & the qadar12, it is already foreordained. (quḍia-l amr jas…-l qadar)26 all of these formulations turn out entirely in conformity with what physicists are now determining.

10. A Radical Interrogation of the ’Enlightenment’ Model

That is one radical interrogation which late modernity27 poses to the ’Enlightenment’ model, and which makes the return to a classical religious perspective - not a monist perspective, that simply takes - what it assumes to be the guiding assumptions of the modern world - and magically discovers those assumptions in the Quran and the Sunna, but a classical assumption, 26.51 a Ghazalian assumption of the nature of reality very credible and which makes religion a far more intellectually, philosophically viable proposition than it was f ex 100 years ago in the age of Victorian science, Edwardian science, when everything really seemed to be - basically - a mechanical process. 27.09

Our view of reality now is far more dynamic, far more slippery EOW13.

11. The Deconstruction of the Human Self

Another thing that seems to have taken place is that the deconstruction of the human persona, the modern understanding of the human self, has radically interrogated ’Enlightenment’ assumption no. 2:

Which is that in the absence of defensible religious definitions of the human self, we have to accept an essentially materialistic assumption of that magnificent, integrated Renaissance personality, the self. The modern world is based on the assumption that the human self is a single, integrated thing, that it’s glorious and can do extraordinary things and fulfill itself and can bring about its own happiness.

Even many forms of modern ’spirituality’ use as guiding slogans:
’Discover your self, be yourself, assert yourself!’
Theses are characteristic slogans of modernity.

But what if we look at what the neurologists are announcing, or the latest generations of philosophers of mind announcing about the reality of our consciousness? And we will find that this foundation of the ’Enlightenment’ materialistic world view, and essentially of the whole model of progress & materialism has again been radically challenged and in fact thrown out of the water. 28.39

No longer do we14 (in) postmodernity15 believe that there is a single integrated, glorious human personality, or entity, which is unchanging. Instead we have a very vague and deconstructed, atomized view of the human consciousness as being a vague pattern of recollections and impulses and all sense of linearity.
 28.50 One of the fundamental principles of modern philosophy is the deconstruction of the human subject, ‘we are not really what we think we are.’ (When waking up in the morning the brain is reactivated and we have the illusion of continuity)… but in fact there is no real linear continuity of the self.

Again - as with physics - things tend to be atomized.

That again poses a radical challenge to the ’Enlightenment’ model, which is at the root of modern conceptions of progress, development, materialism and human fulfilment. And we want another explanation, perhaps more profound than that proposed by the BBC called: ’Why are we so unhappy now-a-days - despite everything what we have?’

… that the self be fulfilled, but modernity has no definition of the self. What is the self, what is the human subject?

It tends out to be a very feeble, fragile, easily unravelled thing.

12. Which Are the Foundations of Ethics

That is a consequence also for ethics, 30.10 Religions have always been suspicious of materialism’s ability to deliver selfless behaviour, to deliver altruism. (It is thought) in the dominant materialistic model (equal) simply act within their own interest and there will be no rational grounds for acting in the interest of the human other. That attitude goes right back to time of the trial of Socrates and beyond. It’s a constant and the interface btw the forces of secularity and the forces of religion.

But in another context it becomes particularly acute: The Modern World makes very grave moral claims for itself. On the one hand it operates on materialistic premises, on the other hand it develops things like ’The Universal Declaration of Human Rights,’28 it develops international law, it develops an ever-proliferating range of regulations, which seem to be preserving the Human Rights to integrity and fulfilment.

That’s a paradox which a number of people have pointed at as being increasingly fragile. So the whole superstructure of Human Rights and ethics were being constructed on foundations which seem to be increasingly flimsy EOW16. 31:28

If the human self has been deconstructed in terms of nothingness, if there is no ultimate external validation for our values, then on what does this huge superstructure actually rest? And much of the story of the 20th century - possibly, but not certainly in anticipation of what lies ahead - is the sudden collapse of ethics on the face of challenges to its foundation.

You look at the rise of National Socialism in Germany, the rise of communism, the rise of great totalitarianisms of the 19th & 20th centuries and you see the suddenness with which secular and liberal validations of the rights of others collapse and turn into nothing when somebody comes along with a different interpretation of human fulfilment and legitimacy.

One of the dangers of liberalism, is that philosophically, is does seem to be built on extremely shaky ground.

13. A Time of Darkness and Confusion, but Also Light

So for all of these reasons we find ourselves as an Ummah in a time that is not just a time of darkness and of objective sadness and confusion, but we also find ourselves when the religious discourse actually seems to have a lot more to offer than it did a few generations ago.

The actual paradigm comes out to be strikingly accessible to the applicants of modern cosmology. - (Three weeks ago in Cambridge we hosted professor Dr Bruno Guiderdoni, head of French observatory in Lyon17, (and) (we asked him about) these conversions between the Ashari cosmology and view of matter and that which modern physicists are involved in regarding the string theory, and he said, that there does seem to be remarkable conversions EOW18  and remarkable compatibility.

Clearly that doesn’t mean that the function of the Muslim thinker in today’s age is a simple and uncritical reproduction of a particular - as it were - ’screenshot’ of the evolution of the Ummah in some past age. 33.45

14. Meaning of Tradition, Traditional

To be traditional means to be part of a tradition, and traditions - by their nature - are moving through time and space. There is nothing in the presuppositions EOW29 of the Quran and hadith and our classical tradition, that requires us to return to any human instantiation of Islamic interpretation in a past age, as if things could not move beyond that.

But the perception has to be again that of the great `ulema, such as Imam Nawawi, Imam Suyuti, Imam Al-Ghazali and the others, who held that there is no spiritual progress19, but there can be an intellectual growth in sophistication20 that helps to slow spiritual decline.

That if the modern (or any) age comes up with cognitive challenges - to the claims of religion - that it is necessary to use the cognitive structures of the modern world, critically filtered 34.43 and deployed21, i. o. to overcome those inhibitions.

So that it is not enough to use a simple pietistic formula for refusing [or to overcome] materialism. Neither is it enough to simply say that Imam Al-Ghazali didn’t believe in causality and therefore we shouldn’t believe in causality.

15. Which Discourse Is Legitimate?

In (such) way what is required - if we were to be traditionally authentic in the broad sense of the term - is to recognize the legitimacy of part of the discourse of every age. 35.13

We do not throw out science, but we throw out the ideologist materialism and the idolising of the human self that a certain view of science can result in. 35.30 We do not throw out modern conceptions of Human Rights and social boundaries, but we interrogate the philosophical foundations of secular Human Rights and ethics of being unduly flimsy.

We may well find ourselves using much of the vocabulary of the [present] age, just as the theologians of Islam have imported quite a bit of the vocabulary of ancient Greek metaphysics for instance, or ancient Greek ethics.

That’s perfectly legitimate, as Imam Al-Ghazali did see is as: ’Al hikmatu dālatu-l mumin’ - ’wisdom is the lost riding beast of the believer’.

And it is permissible to borrow from Aristotle for instance who was substantially a pagan, but there is no religious barrier on the Ghazalian or classical Sunni understanding to borrowing from some of the conceptual armature of the modern world.

16. Filtration And firasa - Imam Al-Ghazali

However the borrowing has to be based on an intellectually subtle filtration.

Imam Al-Ghazali says, when confronted with a Hellenistic legacy, the wise Muslim thinker is the one whose insight, whose internal firasa has been purified so he becomes like the moneychanger, who is so familiar with money so he can recognize - just by touching it - what is a true coin from what is forgery.

Similarly when he says: (when) we look at the treasures of the Ancient world, Greek logic and science, and ethics and metaphysiscs and wish to see what we can use i.o. to make Islam more credible - to a generation which is pressed by those categories - a certain kind of firasa, a spiritual insight is required to enable us to pick and chose, to find what is pure gold and to recognize that from what is a forgery. 37.23

That is - seems to me - a gift that Muslim scholars are required to cultivate, when confronted by the complexity and often undeniable conceptual richness of modernity. 37.36 An uncritical adoption is in any case impossible, because the system of modernity is not unified, but has alternative interpretations, 37.46 just as there are rival interpretations within biology and physics, so too there are certainly many interpretations of the philosophy of mind, metaphysics, ethics, politics, and the rest.

Modernity represents a spectrum of possibilities - not a single point of view. So an uncritical adoption of Modernity is in any case impossible, nobody can take it (all on), because it contains too many contradictions.

But as we look at the range of possibilities that are on offer, and we decide that certain of these things do speak to us, and even that at times certain contemporary forms of expressing wisdom may seem to sound truer in our ears [Some formulations from Quantum physics f ex may sound more true to us] than certain replications EOW24 of Medieval formulas. 38.34 Where for instance - to use the language of Quantum physics - ’somehow’ brings more ease to our soul, than to use a particular type of Aristotelian physics.

17. Rejection of the Modern World or Entrancement by It

When we find that modernity offers foremost expressions that actually serve the life of the spirit, than actually challenging (it), we need to acquire the capacity of tamyīz (discernment):

How do we tell what is gold and what is false gold, when so many people have been mislead.

When the world is full of people who simply have not been able to make the right decisions, people who are - loosely labelled - fundamentalists on the one hand, and reject the Modern World on moral grounds, but may be completely entranced by its science. Or - on the other hand - people who may think that the modern world in its essential structures represents some kind of realisation of possibilities that in Islamic civilization were only latent, but were not realised.…

There is forms of fundamentalism on the one hand and on the other hand there is forms of liberalism and modernism on the other - neither of those represent the correct sifting of the true from the false gold.

What is required is something that will recognise that al-hikmah dālatu-l mumin, 40.02 (that) wisdom is the lost riding beast of the believer. And it is the believer that has the most right to it. (Wa huwa-l haqqu fiha ).

A concept, a formulation of scientific insights (a biological or other wisdom) may be developed by an unbelieving mind, but when the believer appropriates it and sees what it means, in terms of its belonging to the pattern of Allah’s creation, it is the believer truly owns that concept. 40.32

It is like a piece of conquered territory.

Now, the ability to make that discernment of spirit (tamyīs ) is the subtlest thing and the area in which many modern Muslim thinkers have not done terribly well.

Because what Imam Al-Ghazali is proposing is that firāsa is required, an intuition, you have to know through discernment of spirits what is a positive, contemporary form of religions expression and what is subversive. A huge responsibility, but one which we have no alternative to taking on.

And this interpretation is that it is a fitra: a fundamental, positive disposition, a theomorphic essence, at the base of human consciousness, which is the base that makes those decisions. 41.26

18. The Ideology of Islamic Radicalism or Fundamentalism

Which means that if the human consciousness is overcome by moral weakness, or by complexes of envy, defensiveness, insecurity, anger etc. that we all make the wrong decisions.

And the great calamity of the ummah at the moment is the mindset, which - based on the understandable believing aversion to the triviality of the modern world - wishes to reject every aspect of its discourse, while adopting uncritically the scientific foundations of that discourse. 42.06

And this is the ideology of Islamic radicalism, fundamentalism, which is ultimately an expression of ego, of nafs. It’s based on rage, it’s hamiyya, it’s the hamiyya of the Jahilyya. It is that envy and resentment that existed amongst the tribes of the ancient Arabs, it is that sense of primacy and envy and insecurity that was the mindset of Firaun, it is the mentality of the other side. This hamiyya, this rage, this envy, is the Jahily quality.

And when that Jahily energy, which is from the nafs, from the ego, which is from our insecurity, from our fearfulness of the other, which is from nafs, is turned into the driving energy of religion, then that is the most profound subversion, that can ever take place. 42.52

And the ugliest things on the planet are those manifestations of religion, which are driven by the ego, rather than by the spirit. That is a huge danger, the Kharijite energy, which emerged at the beginning of the religion.

Kalimatu-l haqqi uriida biha baatil The true word by which baatil falsehood is deeply intended.

The famous hadith as an indication of that particular mindset: such people go into religion so hard that they come out at the other side, like an arrow through its target. And the nature of that hardness is precisely the anger, rage, frustration, insecurity, psychic traumas of the overwhelmed citizen of the 3rd world when he sees the superior technique of his historical enemies. That is the inversion of true religion, it is the importation of Jahily principle of rage, envy and hamiyya into the spiritual metabolism of Islam, and its results are the Khariji mindset, that opposed Imam Ali and eventually resulted in his assassination. 44.10 If one could imagine a greater crime. That’s where it ends, it ends in self destruction, in suicidal tendencies.

That is one possibility that we see when this wisdom, this capacity to sort out the true gold from the false gold is not cultivated. 44.29

19. The Uncritical Acceptance of Modernity

And the opposite … is the uncritical acceptance of modernity, the envy of modernity again. The assumption being what we need to do is to become ‘just like them,’ but perhaps keeping the Hijab and keeping certain of our traditions intact. But the underlying logic of legislation, the values, the priority of life being indistinguishable from those of the secular world.

That also is symptomatic of a fundamental loss of wisdom (hikma) and also of (yaqeen).

What is required as always, and this is very much the Ghazalian way, is the way of the middle, khayru umuri awsātuha, the best of all matters is the middle course. Imam Al-Ghazali explains that (this) is not the same as the easiest course.

It is quite easy to switch your mind off, and be the uncritical imitator of a fundamentalist faction, one of whose condition of membership is that you don’t use your brain any longer. Or to be the uncritical follower of some liberal faction, that assumes that basically the discourse of the modern world is where you need to be (?) and then again you don’t need a critical faculty any longer. 45.36

20. Being in the Middle

To be in the middle is actually the hardest place to be. And it is the { siratu-l mustaqim } the path of those who are { ghayri-l mardub ‘aleihim wa la Daaliin } (one of the meanings …is precisely this.)

And that { siratu-l mustaqim } is a tricky place to be, but its compensation is that it is placed where you will find this Tu.mainna, where you will fill exclusively this ease [calmness] of the soul.

The enraged radical will not find that, that calmness in his soul, which the Quran speaks of. And not the liberal, the modernist and the conformist, because deep down he knows he’s missing something, and that he is a sell-out, he has the guilt of the traitor, ignoring a way of his soul at some level and never be quite able to get away from that.

But the one who is in a state of { al-qalbu salīm } is the one who has found this middle path, which is not a path of indulgence or a path of moderation, in this sense. …

21. (Islamic) Moderation?

Moderation: in an Islamic response to the modern world is essentially a contradiction in terms. He is still a radical, but his radicalism consists in denying the logic of the modern world (which) always pushes oneself to one extreme or the other. 47.00

What flourishes under modern conditions is either mindless fundamentalism or mindless conformism to the growing modern consumerist monoculture. That’s what thrives now-a-days.

What doesn’t thrive is wisdom, beauty, truth, tradition, selflessness, and humility. Those are the rare properties, but those are undeniable properties, which the { sirata-l mustaqim } enjoins upon us. 47.32

22. Summary

So to wind up22, let me just recap:

The quality of gharīb, which is the required polity of ( the mindful?) believer, particularly in an age of estrangement from Allah swt, such as ours, where people are given absolutely everything, except what is essential to their humanity, that this necessary quality of a believer as a stranger or a wayfarer, makes it impossible for us to be moderates in the conventional medium sense of the word.

Our perception - because we are dissidents regarding the modern materialist consumer enterprise - does turn us into radicals. But it is not superficial rage based radicalism of the fundamentalist extreme. 48.26

Nor is it the extremism of the market fundamentalist. But it’s something more profound. Something that is based on our awareness that we are `ābiri-s sabīl, that we are just passing through. Rumi: you are like a raindrop which falls from the sky onto a clay roof of this world which rushes around for a while and disappears out of the gutter.

That’s what we are, human souls which are not of this world, but from the divine world, the world of arwah (spirits, which) come down on this clay world for a while, rush around for a while, sullying themselves and then leave by the same point of exit (…grave), we are only here for a brief time, but our true home is somewhere else, our true home is the heavens.

… Rumi (We are like a bird that wants to soar up in the empyrean (the highest part of heaven, thought by the ancients to be the realm of pure fire. the unapproachable splendour of the empyrean.), but we/ bird are in the (harsh) grip of an old woman.…) The harshness of dunya has grabbed us. A false beauty (dunya ) has entrapped us. Like the beautiful ego grabbed by a lower principle.

But then you manage to escape and you go to the place where there is no place (bila makan), because that is our home. And that is the basic agenda of Islamic radicalism, the perception that we are briefly ensouled in these bodies of clay, but there is within us a nostalgia for the real place, the point of our origin,(the) place of { alast }, … (nostalgia…) which is like a growing pit into which is poured all those gadgets 51.16 and… forms of distractions, …can’t fill that whole...that we are all - despite everything - acc. to a survey at the BBC - sadder than we’ve been in the past generations.

That’s the true of Islamic intellectuality in our age to recognize that the believer is between these two points, but he’s not a moderate. That:

the believer’s radicalism consists in his being at the middle, and consists in his ability to use a deeper wisdom that has nothing to do with the modern, trivial definition of the human consciousness. The collapse of the ’Enlightenment’ itself, much vaunted (boasted about or praised excessively), now turns to nothing, but the access to a deeper wisdom, which is ultimate this nostalgia. 52:06 This yearning to the { alastu bi-rabbikum } and the desire for a ‘qalbu salim’ which is at the basis of our souls.

So that’s what the muslim intellectual has to be in our age. And we often misuse this term of ‘aql (intelligence). It doesn’t just mean smartness, brainwork, a q l in Arabic means that which hobbles, that which stops the camel from wandering off the night, it’s a cord wrapped around its legs.

And therefore it means that setting of boundaries to the free floating wanderings of the human consciousness that enable us to direct our thoughts and therefore become consciously directed and integrated human beings.

And it entails more profoundly a sense of purpose and of hikma, this great blessing which we are enjoying, the Holy Quran to trade for (exchange (something) for something else, to give and receive).

And that hikma is what enables us, when confronted by the conceptual jungle of modernity and the endless perplexities presented to us by modern science, which enables us to sort out the true gold from the dross and therefore to begin to construct an Islamic theology, which will not just satisfy the yearnings of our minds and our souls, but will once again represent the Ummah to other ummahs in its true and glorious ‘araq (attractive, luminous sense), which at the moment the outside world has not seen.

At the moment the outside world sees … books and pamphlets, and conferences which are about religious ideology, religion as narrow fundamentalism, or religion as some kind of justification for science, scientific discoveries in the Quran, a lot of apologetic rhetoric produced by depleted souls, but no-where is to be seen what is most integral (necessary to make a whole complete; essential or fundamental) to our tradition, which is the tradition of kalam, which is the tradition of our theology, the tradition of our spirituality, which are the areas which the Ummah has historically worked out the justification, the hujjah, for itself.

Only when we return to that authentic, wisdom-driven intellectuality will we actually be an ummah of da’wah, rather than an ummah that endlessly receives.

So (we) ask Allah swt to open our hearts to this wisdom, so that we become people of not just of logic chopping (abolish or reduce the size of (something) in a way regarded as ruthless), and of ‘cleverness’, but of true, deep, inward stillness and wisdom, people who restrain themselves, and know themselves so that they can go on to know and to understand the needs of the world and the rights that Allah swt has over them.

Barak-Allah fikum, salam `aleikum

Oriental Pattern

Disclaimer: First of all it is Islam that reigns (see Sura 5:3).
Traditional Islam does not accept the notion that the world-religions (and even less so any man-made belief system) would be equally valid paths to God, these are perennialist interpretations. Even so, they (their laws) still reflect some sacred truth, so they did not turn into falsehood by being abrogated. These two points need to be kept in mind.

• In the words of Muhyiddīn Ibn `Arabi: ”The religious laws are all lights, and the law of Muhammad ﷺ among these lights is as the sun's light among the light of the stars…”

”So all paths return to look to the Prophet's path ﷺ : if the prophetic messengers had been alive in his time, they would have followed him just as their religious laws have followed his law.…” [further reading]


Related texts
link-in The Mismatch of Technique and Ethics - ch6 in: The Paradox of Our Condition; Quotes on Modernity, by Sh. Abdulhakim Murad Winter
link-in In The Beginning Is Consciousness, From A Talk By S H Nasr

  1. distractions + destructions!

  2. careless, nihilistic, heedless: Ghafla is the sin of indifference to the reality of God - Allah. { They only know the superficial realities of the worldly life and they are unaware of the life to come. } Quran 30-7. It is the broad way and the wide gate. Of those it is said: 'because thou art lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.' (Revelations 3-16)

  3. blame, censure, reproach

  4. a very good result, praise.
    All from the Apple Dictionary

  5. pay attention to; take notice of something

  6. this worldly life.

  7. Narrated Mujahid: `Abdullah bin `Umar said, “Allah’s Messenger ﷺ took hold of my shoulder and said, ‘Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveler.” The sub-narrator added: Ibn `Umar used to say, “If you survive till the evening, do not expect to be alive in the morning, and if you survive till the morning, do not expect to be alive in the evening, and take from your health for your sickness, and (take) from your life for your death.”


  8. For example according to Abu Huraira who reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, thinking well about Allah is a part of the excellent worship of Allah.” Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 3970 Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to As-Suyuti

  9. “about the philosophy of reverse causality, you can inform yourself how radical this perspective is:” Retrocausality, or reverse causality, is the idea that an effect can happen before its cause… There are a lot of time-independent parts of quantum mechanics that leave open the possibility that particles or information — like the hypothetical tachyon particle that always moves faster than light — can travel back in time.

  10. The Ptolemaic system is a geocentric cosmology; that is, it starts by assuming that the Earth is stationary and at the centre of the universe. The “natural” expectation for ancient societies was that the heavenly bodies (Sun, Moon, planets, and stars) must travel in uniform motion along the most “perfect” path possible, a circle. However, the paths of the Sun, Moon, and planets as observed from the Earth are not circular.

  11. what is usually happening.

  12. (a.)
    Qaḍa' (قضاء) and Qadar (قدر) have both the meaning of decree, that which is decreed by Allah (may His Majesty be exalted). So qaḍa' understood as the 'general' meaning of decree, or ruling, directive as in 3-47:
    { When He has decreed something, He says to it only: "Be!" - and it is. }

    Qadar (قدر) is also the decree, but with a slightly other meaning of "Decision on apportionment, proportion, quantity, magnitude or amount," according to its literal form means as in 89-16:
    { But when He tries him, by straitening his means of life ( restricting his sustenance).}

    Allah knows best and most!

    Source: Qadha' and Qadar in Islam ( Quranic Verses ) _hbd

    The Correct Understanding of Qaḍa and Qadar in Islam: Divine Decree and Predestination:

    ”It means the Decision and Determination of Allah according to His Knowledge.

    Allah in His infinite knowledge, not being bound by time and space, wrote down in the Preserved Tablet everything that will happen. Everything exists in His Pre-eternal Knowledge, before it happens in time. This includes the choices that we make using our free will.

    This doesn’t cancel out our human free will because our actions are not caused by what is written by Allah according to His Knowledge of what we will choose, rather our actions are caused by our own free choices. Allah has full knowledge of everything that we will choose without being bound by time and space.

    And Allah effects our choices, wills them into being, creates them out of non-existence—based on our choosing. So as humans, our choice is our free will. As the Creator, Allah wills things to happen based on our choices—which He knew about from Pre-eternity and accordingly inscribed on the Preserved Tablet.

    The Creed of Imam Tahawi states:

    ’People’s actions are created by Allah but earned by people.’

    So in sum, a person makes a choice through his or her free will to do a certain action, and the qada and qadar or the Decree of Allah is in His Decision or Will for it to be created within time.

    Allah creates the action. Since we chose the action, we are considered responsible for our choice. Because Allah has infinite knowledge, not bound by time and space, He already knows everything that will take place in His creation.”

    Source: The Correct Understanding of Qada and Qadar in Islam: Divine Decree and Predestination (qibla.com/correct-understanding-qada-qadar-islam; xL =broken link 2020-10-01):

  13. slippery: of a word or concept, elusive in meaning because changing according to one’s point of view

  14. ’we’: scientists or proponents (a person who advocates a theory, proposal, or course of action)

  15. postmodernity: a late 20th-century style and concept in the arts, architecture, and criticism [which has spread to the social sciences and further and] which represents a departure from modernism and is characterized by the self-conscious use of earlier styles and conventions, a mixing of different artistic styles and media, and a general distrust of theories [of any kind].)

  16. insubstantial and easily damaged

  17. Also:
    - xL =broken link 2020-10-03: http://www.kalamresearch.com; Bruno Guiderdoni

    - Le Cosmos De L'Islam, YT

  18. the process of changing or causing something to change from one form to another

  19. spiritual progress: [any spiritual improvement what has already been reached by the earlier generations of `ulema and saints in general, and by the Prophet ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) in particular]

  20. sophistication: development to a high degree of complexity

  21. brought into effective action

  22. (this was the first session, and 2nd session is for Q&A)

  23. ishrāq - illumination: Hikmat al-Ishraq - Wisdom by illumination.

    In the Sufi and later philosophical traditions in Islam, ishraq referred to the apprehension of truth through a light emanating from God, who is described in the Quran ( 24:35 ) as { the Light of the heavens and the earth.}

    Al-Suhrawardi (d. 1191 ) made ishraq the pivotal point of his philosophy, embodied in a famous treatise entitled Hikmat al-ishraq (The wisdom of illumination), (where he) claims to go beyond rational (Hellenistic) philosophical methods to more direct, experiential modes of insight deriving from ancient Eastern, predominantly Persian, sources.

    The Ishraqi tradition reached its zenith in the work of the Persian philosopher Sadr al-Din al-Shirazi , known also as Mulla Sadra (d. 1641 ), generally regarded as the greatest exponent of the philosophy of ishraq, which continues to have a significant following in Iran today.

  24. replications: the actions of copying or reproducing something

  25. Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad - Crisis of Modern Consciousness, Youtube
    This is a lecture by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad held at the Masjid Negara, Kuala Lumpur, 28 March 2010, during "The Crisis of Modern Consciousness workshop."

  26. Expression (quḍia-l amr jas…-l qadar)?
    Here are some Quranic verses for { quḍia-l amr … }

  27. late modernity: postmodernity (postmodernism)

  28. From the declaration:

    All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood, article 1.

    Also on Livingislam.org:
    - The Meaning Of Universal Brotherhood; by Sh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti
    - A Broader Brotherhood Of Man Since Adam; in: Muslims Living In Non-Muslim Lands; by Sh Abdullah bin Bayyah

  29. a thing tacitly assumed beforehand

  30. This does not mean, that technology is completely useless, which it is not - of course. The problem begins when people’s focus is skewed from what the real focus should be. See ch.2

  31. The East: Here it depends very much what place or country is meant, and the year 2020 is not the same as the year 1920. But what is meant here is the East in a general sense.

  32. We need to understand the consistent ideas at the root of postmodernism if we wish to counter those ideas - especially for people of monotheism and servants of God - Allah. See Modernity And Postmodernism


* Living Islam – Islamic Tradition *