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Nadeem Amin: Clash of Civilisations

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  • ummyakoub
    In the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful ... http://www.cdlr.net/mailitems/clash of civilisations.htm CLASH OF CIVILISATIONS: ISLAM AND THE WEST
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 5, 2003
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      In the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful


      http://www.cdlr.net/mailitems/clash of civilisations.htm




      Nadeem Amin


      Say, 'Produce your evidence if you speak the truth'

      (Qur'aan; 2:111 & 27:64)

      The pace at which tumultuous political events are running is
      sufficient enough to convince anyone that the West and Islam are
      heading for an inevitable 'clash of civilisations'. Or perhaps we are
      already in the midst of the clash? Ever since Professor Huntington
      coined the phrase[1], people on both sides of the ideological divide
      have become concerned, uneasy and even enthralled by the prospect of
      a conflict between two civilisations that seem so irreconcilably
      different. Yet the clumsy phrase deliberately simplifies a complex
      set of questions and contributes to the mass of confusion that, by
      dint of tragic irony, may set into effect a self-fulfilling prophecy
      that will ultimately vindicate the apocalyptic vision conjured up by
      a clash of civilisations. Yet if we are to seriously consider the
      points of tension between Islam and the West, political polemic,
      prejudicial rhetoric and sloganistic scaremongering needs to be
      displaced by mature and reasoned debate. Guided not by the desire to
      merely rubbish one's opponent but by the more noble aim of creating a
      deeper and more profound understanding about how best the points of
      difference can be accurately articulated and how the validity of
      different worldviews can be judged. It is far beyond the scope of
      this article to comprehensively address the relationship between two
      rich and diverse civilisations and hence no pretensions are made
      about coming to an absolutely definitive answer about how exactly the
      misunderstandings should or can be resolved. Instead, the aim is to
      evaluate crucial components of the Islamic and Western outlook, as a
      way of contributing to better mutual understanding and thereby
      raising the discussion from the shenanigans of tribalistic politics
      to the more informative insights of rational discourse.



      Say thou: "This is my way: I do invite unto Allah, on evidence clear
      as the seeing with one's eyes

      (Qur'aan; 12:108)

      Every manifestation of a civilisation's cultural, ethical, economic,
      political and even artistic outlook reflects a certain understanding,
      or an attempt to understand, the very reality of human existence.
      What does it actually mean to be human? Is there any real overriding
      purpose to human life or is human existence inherently meaningless?
      Can limited human reason alone deliver a truthful verdict on such
      pressing existential questions? Both civilisations have very
      different approaches and answers to these questions that have become
      more pronounced in modern times than what has historically been the
      case. Western societies have gradually worked themselves into a type
      of agnostic secularism which views such questions with scepticism,
      cynicism or sometimes complete indifference[2]. Islam urges humans to
      ask themselves the pivotal question of all existential questions: Is
      there an ultimate being that has willed the universe into existence?
      Reflective thought produces, Islam argues, only one rationally
      plausible answer. The contingent universe, characterised by breath-
      taking complexity, beauty and order cannot simply be the result of
      mere accident or chance. Humans are not the accidental blind products
      of a purely arbitrary and mechanical process. Most importantly, this
      is not just another perspective, but the only answer that makes
      rational sense. It is the only answer that comprehensively and
      coherently makes sense of the reality of the universe we live in.
      Atheists and agnostics alike are usually shocked by what they see as
      an overly dogmatic position, even though their own position, which
      insists on the impossibility of arriving at such a conclusion, is no
      less dogmatic.

      How have western societies come to acquire a secular agnostic view?
      The historical detail is complex, but what has undoubtedly played a
      significant role is the philosophy of scientific naturalism that
      reduces all questions to prosaic empirical descriptions and urges any
      questions that cannot be answered by empirical observation to be put
      into the dustbin of 'metaphysical nonsense'[3]. Reductionist
      empirical science doesn't answer the question of whether it makes
      rational sense to believe in an ultimate being, it actually precludes
      the question altogether. Since ideologues of materialistic science
      wish to equate science with rationality, truth, and progress, it
      means that the question of whether the universe has been caused or
      willed into existence by an ultimate being is not amenable to any one
      of them. This is precisely what ironically creates apathy and
      indifference to a question that is at the heart of understanding
      human existence. Placing this in the context of the 'Islam and the
      West' debate, people like Huntingdon perceive Islam to be introducing
      superstitious mysticism into our world-view that will only serve to
      befog our intellectual endeavours. It thus constitutes a threat or a
      challenge to a civilisation whose self-conception rests upon the
      premise that its progress has been ensured by casting the
      anachronisms of 'religious belief' aside. This may even have a
      kernel of truth in respect of how the medieval church supposedly
      hindered independent intellectual inquiry, not only by the coercive
      exercise of its institutional tentacles, but by the imposition of
      irrational dogma[4]. It is still illogical however to extrapolate
      from a selective reading of western history to the crude view that a
      belief in an ultimate being is anathema to intellectual and social
      progress. The history of Islamic civilisation supports the view that
      the opposite is in fact the case. As Anthony Black points out: "A
      new approach to politics and government was developed by the
      practitioners (falsafa) between the age of al-Ma'mun and the Saljuks.
      The East was intellectually superior to the West in jurisprudence,
      mathematics, medicine, astronomy and philosophy until around 1200.
      Early Islam was more open that pre-twelfth century Christendom to
      foreign and ancient ideas"[5].

      Clearly the existence of an ultimate being is not something that can
      be empirically tested. But although the question is not strictly
      empirical it is wrong to assume that it does not admit of a rational
      answer. The irreducible metaphysical question concerns seeking an
      explanation to the very fact of existence. Why does anything exist at
      all when it could well have not existed? Scientists are quick to
      reply that this is not a scientific question. This of course is
      true, but the subtle message being conveyed is that since it is not a
      scientific question we cannot possibility come to know to the truth
      of any given answer. Whilst the premise is correct, the inference
      isn't. The honest scientist should respond by saying that such a
      profound question brings into sharp relief the serious limits of
      materialistic science. It tells us something about the limits of
      science and not about the rational validity of any given answer. To
      jettison the question altogether is to exhibit the ideological
      prejudices of scientific naturalism, which is in itself a patently
      unscientific posture.

      Islamic theologians and philosophers have forwarded numerous rational
      arguments to validate the belief in an ultimate being as the only
      rationally credible alternative to the metaphysical question of
      existence. Among the most famous arguments is the Kalam Cosmological
      argument, which has received considerable support from the
      contemporary Christian philosopher, William Craig[6]. The argument,
      structured as a syllogism, reads: Everything that begins to exist has
      a cause. The universe began to exist. The universe therefore has an
      ultimate cause. Now an argument can be dismissed due to faulty logic
      and/or because the premises are not rationally valid. The logic of
      the argument is impeccable, what the sceptic needs to demonstrate is
      that the premises are invalid. It is not the place to engage in a
      exhaustive philosophical evaluation about the merits of the Kalam
      argument, what is of interest here is the absurdity of characterising
      the Islamic belief in an ultimate being as inherently irrational and

      Advocates of scientific naturalism have constructed categories of
      knowledge that are useful for heuristic purposes, but when the
      construction of categories, and by extension, the very definition of
      what constitutes `knowledge' is ideologically motivated, then the
      scientific endeavour is not involved in the illumination of reality
      but in placing obstacles that limit and potentially skew our
      understanding of reality. Thus although the categories of `Theology'
      and `Science' do retain a credible intellectual purchase,
      unfortunately they have also prohibited science from accepting the
      fact that a belief in an ultimate transcendent cause to the universe
      provides a more meaningful and valid metaphysics in understanding
      nature than that offered by the metaphysical trappings of scientific

      A distinction must be made between understanding the `workings' of
      nature and how we approach and interpret the laws or workings of
      nature. The metaphysics of scientific naturalism tells us to believe
      in the exclusivity of material reality, which for some, results in
      interpreting nature as a mechanistic body devoid of inherent meaning
      and purpose. The alternative metaphysics provided by a belief in an
      ultimate being instructs us to understand nature as a purposefully
      created reality having meaning beyond any particular physical law.
      The sense of appreciation and understanding of nature is radically
      different in both contexts. The typical retort of the secular
      scientist is that we do not need to believe in a Divine being to
      understand the laws of nature; after all, we are perfectly capable of
      discovering the laws of physics without such a metaphysical backdrop.
      But this completely misses the point. Of course a belief in a Divine
      being is not an epistemological precondition to the discovery of the
      laws of nature; that is not the function of a theistic metaphysical
      framework, its function is to guide us into understanding the
      significance of those laws in a wider framework of meaning and
      purpose. This may sound far too abstract to be useful. A cursory
      look at how humans have brought environmental damage to the earth
      with the assumption that the earth is simply a material entity to
      be `exploited', suggests otherwise.

      The Kalam argument is not guilty of mixing the magisteria[7]
      of `Theology' and `Science' in so far as it has been articulated by
      Islamic theologians. It is not, to use the cliché, connecting `how
      the heavens go with how to get to heaven'. It is forwarding an
      argument for the factual necessity of an ultimate cause as the only
      alternative that makes the contingent origin of the universe
      rationally intelligible. The relationship between the ultimate being
      and the human race, in Islamic theology, is not deduced by reason but
      through the means of divine revelation. Hence it is not connecting
      how the heavens work with how to get to heaven, and for this reason
      alone, it is unfair to cast the sorts of aspersions on it as have
      been traditionally levelled against discredited versions of Christian
      Natural Theology.

      Part of the difficulty for the secular scientist is that the Kalam
      argument insists that the ultimate being is a factually necessary
      being, but since scientific naturalists want to claim a complete
      monopoly on all matters of fact, the Kalam argument is interpreted as
      effectively challenging the claim to exclusive jurisdiction over
      knowledge. But this is to arbitrarily dismiss the Kalam argument by
      definitional fiat rather than by counter argument. In essence, it is
      an unsatisfactory attempt at evasion.

      The secular establishment has been keen to propagate the myth that
      David Hume and Immanuel Kant delivered the coup de grace to the Kalam
      cosmological argument in the 18th century. Nothing could be further
      from the truth. Hume, in one of his more sober and reflective moods,
      actually concedes to both premises of the Kalam argument. As he
      states, `But allow me to tell you that I never asserted so absurd a
      Proposition as that anything might arise without a cause: I only
      maintain'd, that our Certainty of the Falsehood of that Proposition
      preceded neither from Intuition nor Demonstration, but from another
      source'[8]. Hume also rejects the notion that the universe can be
      understood as an actual infinity, the corollary of which is to
      acknowledge that the universe is characterised by a specifiable,
      determinant and finite number of events that have an origin. If the
      universe is not an infinity then it must have a finite origin. Hume
      thus states, `An infinite number of real parts of time, passing in
      succession, and exhausted one after another, appears so evident a
      contradiction, that no man, one should think, whose judgement is not
      corrupted, instead of being improved, by the sciences, would ever be
      able to admit of it'[9]. How else can one account for the origin of
      the universe without acknowledging the existence of a transcendent

      This reveals that the existential predicament of humankind, contrary
      to the views of secular agnostics, is not that of being unavoidably
      trapped by a rational impasse on a matter of such ultimate
      importance. There are overwhelming reasons, grounded in science[10]
      and philosophical discourse, to regard the existence of an ultimate
      cause to be a far more intellectually credible explanation of the
      origin of the universe in comparison with the atheistic alternative
      that delves into the fantasy of a universe coming into existence out
      of nothing[11], and then organising itself into an almost
      incomprehensible complex equilibrium.

      Western modernity is often interpreted by many in the west as a
      triumph of reason over superstition, owing its debt to Enlightenment
      thinkers who robustly held out the importance of universal and
      objective reason[12]. Leaving aside the idealism of Enlightenment
      utopianism, the western world should find every reason to embrace an
      open dialogue with Islam given that both civilisations are committed
      to the necessity of reasoned argument, particularly on matters of
      ultimate importance. It would be tragic for the west to view Islam
      with disdain simply because Islam is committed to a belief in an
      ultimate transcendent reality; this would be to allow prejudice to
      triumph over reason - the opposite of how the west seeks to portray
      itself to others. In doing so it would thwart the process of mutual
      understanding and tragically lead the west into a betrayal of its own
      culture and philosophical heritage.

      The belief in an ultimate being is neither irrational nor
      superstitious; the light of reasoned argument furnishes it with
      coherence and conviction. Needless to say, our capacity for rational
      thought is but one crucial aspect of what binds us together into a
      common humanity and to compromise the integrity of dispassionate,
      reasoned discourse would be to compromise the integrity of that
      humanity. The imperative of rational dialogue so admirably extolled
      by Islam should give every western critic an opportunity to rethink
      their outlandish bellicosity that revels in casting Islam as an
      arcane, mythical, residue of an intellectually defunct past.




      Those are the ones that have purchased error (in exchange) for
      guidance, so their transaction has brought no benefit, nor were they
      guided. Their example is that of one who kindled a fire, but when it
      illuminated what was around him, Allah took away their light and left
      them in darkness (so) they could not see. Deaf, dumb and blind- they
      will not return to the straight path.

      (Qur'aan; 2:16-18)

      The process of secularisation that continues unabated in western
      societies may not have replaced religious conviction by substituting
      it with atheism, but it certainly has had a corrosive affect on the
      authority of traditional religious institutions that were once the
      source of moral guidance. Whatever one's view might be about
      Christian morality and the institutions that legitimised it, there is
      no doubt that as western societies have gradually loosened an
      attachment to religious-based morality, all sense of eternal moral
      truths has evaporated.

      Instead of moral values finding theological and philosophical
      sustenance in an ultimate, objective reality, morality has become
      divested of all meaning, spelling moral anarchy where an 'anything
      goes' culture prevails. Euphemistically rationalised by secular
      liberals as an expression of 'moral diversity' and 'pluralism', a
      condition where there are no objective moral truths has bred a
      nihilistic culture characterised by irresolvable moral
      disillusionment. Our inability to decide whether pre-marital sex,
      homosexuality and other moral issues are morally right or wrong has
      forced the invention of a liberal vocabulary that describes such
      issues as a matter of 'lifestyle' choice rather than a moral choice.
      The emphasis on lifestyle instead of morality is meant to conceal the
      fact that we have become a society that has not so much lost its
      moral bearing in as much as it has become amoralised. This does not
      mean that individuals in western societies no longer hold moral
      values, that clearly is an absurdity, what it does mean is that the
      spread of secularisation has undermined the ability to make moral
      pronouncements with objective certainty. If there is no objective,
      ultimate reality, then the moral opinion (opinion is all it can be)
      of one person is no more valid than another. Or as Dostoevsky
      chillingly put it, 'If God does not exist, then anything goes'[13].

      The mish-mash of moral relativism has produced the perverse and
      paradoxical effect of making us fundamentalist moral relativists in
      the name of ridding ourselves of moral fundamentalism. No one moral
      view can be seen as being more valid than another except the view of
      moral relativism that denies the very existence of objective, moral
      validity. So although superficially we all have individual moral
      views, in fact distinct moral conceptions cannot be held because we
      are forced to submit to the fundamentalist doctrines of moral

      The attitude of moral relativism is sold as being the sine qua non of
      a progressive and tolerant society; yet both of these ideals are in
      fact undercut by moral relativism. If moral values are purely
      relative then we have no means of judging whether the moral positions
      we hold now are better or worse than before. On a relativistic
      reading of morality, there is no right or wrong morality, only
      different, mutually incompatible moralities. Societies cannot
      therefore progress or regress in their moral outlook, they only
      change and become different.

      Far from creating a tolerant society, relativism brings into
      question the very value of tolerance, for if values are purely
      relative then why should we place particular emphasis on the value of
      tolerance? Furthermore, without clear moral boundaries the question
      of what society should be willing to tolerate becomes infinitely
      contentious. Should we tolerate the intolerable? But without definite
      moral criteria, we have no way of agreeing upon what we should see as
      being intolerable. Thus relativism ruins the notion of tolerance by
      being utterly incapable of affording it with any meaningful depth and

      In contrast to the ostensibly progressive and tolerant insights of
      moral relativism, Islam is seen as uncompromising, categorical and
      thoroughly unreasonable in its refusal to give up on what it
      considers to be a divinely ordained moral framework. In fact, Islam's
      insistence on a divine moral code that embodies absolute moral truths
      is a source of strength and social stability. It provides moral
      certainty that inculcates a genuine sense of moral obligation and
      hence saves humanity from drowning in a sea of moral anarchy. Of
      course there are various and perfectly legitimate interpretations in
      the actual application of divine law, but the point is that a common
      point of reference exists that guides and directs moral judgements.
      Western societies that have given up on eternal moral truths might be
      somewhat justified in their thinking given the shape of the
      historical and cultural circumstances that have pushed them in such a
      direction. Yet the west it is not justified in turning its own
      history into an inexorable and universal historical process based
      upon the idea that history is the evolutionary subordination of the
      spiritual to the rational[14].

      This brief discussion on moral relativism is important because it
      highlights the tragic fate that secularisation has unleashed. In one
      respect, if 'God is Dead' as Nietzsche boldly proclaimed[15], then
      morality does in fact degenerate into a subjectivist and relativist
      condition. For without God, all we have is human reason, which is not
      a moral criterion or a yardstick against which our moral behaviour
      can be evaluated. Yet this is precisely the crux of the matter. If
      reason is taken as the basis of our morality, then morality cannot
      even hope to get started because we begin with the false premise that
      reason can function as a moral criterion. But if 'right' and 'wrong'
      are taken from a divine source then by definition any moral verdict
      has objective and absolute validity because it emanates from an
      objective and absolute reality.

      The Islamic insistence on an absolute and objective moral framework
      has every possibility of being misunderstood and falling prey to
      criticisms of rigidity and insensitivity to the ambiguities of human
      experience and context. It may in fact invite criticisms that are
      typically meted out to the absolutist ethics of Kantian Deontology
      [16]. Moral absolutism in Islam does not mean the permanent
      unchangeability of all moral values under any and all circumstances.
      Take for example the Islamic commitment to the sacredness of human
      life. As a general principle it functions as a moral absolute, yet in
      times of war the taking of life is morally permissible, indeed in the
      face of a tyrannical regime that brutally massacres human beings, the
      upholding of justice can make it morally obligatory. The same can be
      said of stealing and lying: there are circumstances that can make
      both morally permissible. The important point to note is that the
      framework[17] that establishes the moral rules is the very framework
      that provides means for further qualification and elaboration. A rich
      and detailed literature related to usul ul fiqh, (the science of
      Islamic jurisprudence) deals with complex methodological questions
      centred on the derivation and application of divine law. This
      addresses issues such as the relevance of practical necessity, the
      relative qualification of general principles, circumstances that
      necessitate the suspension of penal laws, the determination of
      overriding factors and the creative dialectical tension between aql
      (reason) and wahy (divine revelation) – to mention just a few. To be
      qualified to engage in itjihad (the derivation and application of
      divine law) one has to be familiar with a wide range of specialist
      juristic sciences, in addition to having a mastery over the Arabic
      language. So the often-repeated question of whether Man is made for
      the Law or the Law made for Man sets up a simplified dichotomy. In
      Islam, the Law is given by the Divine being for the betterment of
      Man, which he should judiciously apply to the best of his
      understanding in light of the manifold situations and contexts that
      confront him.

      Moral absolutism in Islam should not therefore be misconstrued as a
      slavish application of moral rules that are oblivious and stubbornly
      resistance to the fluidity and dynamics of human life. A more
      accurate understanding of Islamic law would be to assert that the
      moral imperatives of Islam (some of which are a question of
      interpretation and others that are not) demand adherence because they
      are traceable to an absolute moral authority.

      Secularists are at pains to point out that 'moral values change as
      societies change'. This is typically one of those disingenuous
      propositions that we are meant to accept as some incontrovertible a
      priori truth. The fact that different societies have held different
      moral values, or indeed that a particular society has radically
      changed its moral outlook over time is a complete non sequitur. A
      sociological observation does not have any logical relation to the
      philosophical question of whether there are eternal moral truths.
      Just because different people believe in different things at
      different times does not mean that there is no single moral truth.

      The disciplines of Sociology, Anthropology and History cannot be of
      any assistance in determining the content or nature of moral truth.
      These disciplines, even given their numerous methodological
      divisions, purport to describe how people live or have lived. Yet
      this cannot have any logical bearing on the normative question of how
      we should live. Just because the Greeks practised homosexuality does
      not mean it is morally acceptable, no more than the practice of
      female circumcision in some African societies contributes in
      establishing any morally valid principle. The problem for the moral
      relativist becomes even more acute when he is presented with judging
      the heinous crimes of Nazism. If morals are purely relative then on
      what basis can we unreservedly condemn the actions of Hitler? They
      can only be objectively wrong if an appeal is made to abstract,
      universal principles that are true, irrespective of cultural and
      historical context. But universal, abstract moral truths are the very
      things that are scornfully rejected by advocates of moral relativism.

      Now it is true that secular agnostics and atheists do not all
      subscribe to moral relativism, even though a negation of `higher' or
      transcendent moral truths would seem to logically imply some form of
      moral relativism. Some secularists vociferously proclaim to hold non-
      negotiable moral values, almost by way of demonstrating the
      possibility of constructing a meaningful and coherent secular
      morality. One such moral value is the sanctity of individual
      conscience – usually expressed in the language of individual liberty.
      A more incisive line of evaluation would be to ask a secularist why
      individual conscience should be treated as an inviolable `sacred'
      moral value. It is difficult to see how a secularist could justify
      his position without recourse to some notion of the intrinsically
      valuable nature of human choice, which presupposes precisely the meta-
      ethical foundation that secularism seeks to ideologically supplant.
      The recognition of the indispensability of meta-ethical foundations
      to morality is just one step away from the admission that secularism
      cannot provide absolute, objective, moral truth. But why does
      morality have to be absolute? This is to misunderstand the real issue
      of the debate. If the insuperable incongruities of moral relativism
      are to be avoided then non-negotiable moral absolutes need to be
      established by predicating them on a meta-ethical foundation. But if
      we reject the notion of a meta-ethical foundation, as the doctrine of
      secularism encourages us to do, then we have no justification for
      tenaciously holding onto moral absolutes and are hence once again
      lead into the quagmire of moral relativism.

      Advocates of the 'clash of civilisations' thesis perceive the moral
      absolutism of Islam as a threat to the permissive culture that moral
      relativism creates, whereas the real danger is the incoherence of
      moral relativism itself that has contributed to the moral and social
      disintegration of western societies. Holding onto eternal moral
      truths is not 'backwardness' or 'narrow minded bigotry' but the
      intellectually respectable position of refusing to slavishly
      acquiesce to the forever fluctuating whims and desires of secular
      societies. What secular societies need to do is to seriously examine
      whether the difficulty they experience in understanding a commitment
      to eternal moral truths is actually a reflection of their own flawed
      conception of morality, rather than it being a symptom of the
      supposed obscurantism of Islam. It is time we all revisited the age-
      old question: is objective moral truth possible without an ultimate,
      divine source?



      We have certainly created humankind in the best of stature, then We
      return him to the lowest of the low, Except for those who believe and
      do righteous deeds, for they will have a lasting reward.

      (Qur'aan; 95:4-6)

      Whilst the antiquated discourse between traditional left-wing
      socialism and right-wing capitalism offers limited insight into
      developing a thorough critique of contemporary capitalism, it is
      nevertheless undeniable that the traditional charge against
      capitalism as a system which produces extreme social and economic
      inequalities retains much of its original potency. The injustice of
      this is particularly evinced by the manner in which the affluent
      middle-classes can buy themselves private health care whilst the
      poorer sections of society often have to suffer the interminable wait
      and indignity of being placed on a waiting list. Why should the
      fundamental welfare need of receiving medical care be dependent upon
      income? This is not a criticism of private health care per se, but a
      criticism of a system that places the objective of profit before the
      welfare needs of human beings. Taxing the rich to help the poor is
      avoided because it is ideologically incompatible with an economic
      system that rationalises socio-economic inequalities as an outcome of
      a meritocratic society. This is the case even though the life
      chances of different people are largely determined by the set of
      circumstances they inherit at birth. A system whose raison detre is
      the accumulation of wealth will always produce people whose social
      and economic needs cannot be met because a rich minority have a vast
      concentration of wealth and live in unbelievably excessive luxury.

      This is not an argument for absolute economic equality in the form
      advocated by communism or a particular policy suggestion about the
      redistribution of income and wealth. It is an argument about
      radically re-examining the capitalist prioritisation of social and
      economic goals/values that persists in placing individual economic
      benefit above collective human welfare. The Islamic economic system,
      whilst permitting trade, places value on human welfare and need above
      the capitalist greed for profit. Thus economic growth is encouraged
      but from the perspective of distributing its benefits so that the
      needs of all members of society can be met. Again, the Islamic
      alternative is seen as a radical threat to western capitalist
      hegemony in which multinational companies turn over billions of
      dollars whilst millions in Africa suffer from starvation and abject
      poverty. The following statistics make depressing reading, but
      powerfully demonstrate how western capitalism, with its production of
      surplus goods and waste, obsession with profit and self-interested
      attitude, has created a living hell for the people in Africa. Number
      of people who live on less than $1 a day: G8 countries = 0, Africa =
      291 million. Access to clean water: UK=100%, Dem Rep of Congo = 45%.
      Number of people per doctor: Italy = 169, Malawi = 50, 000. Number of
      African children under five who die each year: 4,500,000. Chance of
      death in pregnancy: G8 countries =1 in 4,085, Africa = 1 in 13.
      Annual spend by G8 on subsidising Western farmers: $311bn. Annual
      spend by G8 on aid for Africa: $13bn. Two thirds of the world's
      population are in danger of facing critical water shortages in the
      next 25 years[18].

      The problem of poverty in developing countries can be significantly
      reduced by a simple change in trade rules and, as suggested before,
      changing the values on which international economic trade is
      conducted. Yet this is unlikely to happen insofar as the structure
      and values of an exploitative capitalist system remain intact. Yet
      capitalism, with all its incalculably destructive effects on poor
      nations, is held up as one of the defining achievements of modern
      western civilisation.

      According to Islam, one of the chief defects of capitalism, and
      indeed of socialism too, is that economic questions are seen as
      involving purely materialistic considerations. The question is not,
      as conceived by capitalism, how to distribute scarce resources to
      meet unlimited wants, but how to distribute resources to meet the
      Islamic values of human welfare and need. Those very values influence
      subsidiary questions such as whether goods should be produced simply
      because they meet human desires. Is the pursuit and satisfaction of
      unfettered human desires always beneficial for the individual and
      society at large? Capitalist logic would suggest that if there is a
      demand/desire for pornography then a shrewd businessman should
      exploit the situation by producing pornographic images and
      literature; the Islamic value-system would suggest otherwise, hence
      the importance of values. Capitalism is merely concerned with the
      production of goods and services, Islam is concerned with the more
      ethically pressing question of what goods and services should be
      produced and for whom.

      The consumerist culture of capitalism has led to the dehumanising
      commodification of human life. The very value of our life has become
      governed by the amount of products (mostly utterly frivolous) we
      consume and success is subsequently measured by the extent of our
      acquisition of material goods. The cosmetic and advertising
      industries manipulatively create idealistic expectations, often
      creating insecurities in the minds of the public (particularly for
      women) and then exploit these insecurities by the further production
      of vain products that feeds into an image-obsessed society. Far from
      being a source of liberation, capitalist consumerism has enslaved
      many to a self-indulgent culture that continuously perpetuates
      illusory ideals that happiness can be attained by self-obsession. In
      reality this translates into constructing an image of oneself so that
      it meets the equally image-obsessed perceptions of others. This has
      been particularly damaging for the female psyche. The female body has
      become overly sexualised to the extent that the very worth of a woman
      is often dependent upon her apparent sexual prowess. Adverts for
      chocolates, cars, holidays, furniture, glasses and even mobile phones
      all demonstrate the prurience of contemporary capitalist consumerism.
      Marx may well have been wrong about many things, but his description
      of capitalism as a system that is characterised by `commodity
      fetishism' is just about perfect. Everything has a price in
      capitalism, that's why practically anything can be commodified, even
      the very worth of human life and dignity.

      Advocates of western capitalism do not feel threatened by the
      economic philosophy of Islam if it is discussed at a purely academic
      level, what do they find threatening however is the practical
      application of Islamic economic principles that would certainly put
      an end to the barbaric commodification unleashed by the amoralistic
      attitude of capitalism.



      Today I have perfected your deen (way of life) for you, and have
      completed my favours upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your

      (Qur'aan; 5:3)

      Liberal fundamentalists feel that the collapse of soviet communism
      and the supposed failure of `political Islam' provide compelling
      proof that Liberal democracy is the evolutionary apex of all hitherto
      political struggles. It is the final and universal political ideal
      that is ensured not only by its ideological strictures but also by
      the law of historical necessity. Given this rather triumphalist form
      of historiography, Islam is seen as a retrograde latecomer to an
      emerging global liberal consensus. Aside from the gross sociological
      and historical inaccuracy of the liberal fundamentalist view,
      popularised by Fukyama's `end of history' thesis[19], the
      triumphalism of western liberals betrays a growing inconfidence and
      insecurity about the intellectual crisis facing contemporary

      Classical liberalism, as advocated by J S Mill[20], had the vision of
      a society in which individuals could creatively pursue their unique
      individuality unhindered by the debilitating effects of social
      conformity and received wisdom. The role of the state was to protect
      fundamental rights of individuals and maintain a social order in
      which individuals had the maximum scope of freedom consistent with
      the `harm principle': the state is only permitted to intervene in
      society if the freedom of action of one individual causes harm to
      another. Whilst freedom of action was to be made relative to the harm
      principle, freedom of speech was to be given an unconditional and
      absolute status. Mill argued that it was only through an unrestricted
      collision of ideas that a dialectical transformation of quantity into
      qualitative intellectual understanding could be attained. Moreover,
      the absence of finality in philosophical truth means that no idea,
      however seemingly bizarre and absurd should be suppressed, for it
      could contain an element of truth that has every potential of adding
      to the sum of human understanding. Ever since Mill's seminal work,
      Liberals have defined their ideology with reference to the components
      outlined by Mill: the primacy of individual liberty, a distrust of
      political power, and rational dialogue as a means attaining the
      truth; all of which theoretically lead to self-realisation and
      development. Liberalism is a complex ideology with its various
      ideological mutations[21], but these components remain the criteria
      of what distinguishes a political view as being particularly liberal.

      Each of these components has suffered serious set backs at both the
      abstract and social level. Liberating, as it may seem, individual
      liberty unguided by the constraining limits of higher moral values
      has not led to human fulfilment. The breakdown in families, the
      decline of a community ethic, a gradual weakening of civic duty, the
      marginalisation of the elderly into `care-homes', rising
      dysfunctional behaviour among the young, not to mention the
      psychological alienation this creates, does not exhibit a liberal
      utopia where each individual is creatively developing his talents on
      the path to a higher sense of self-realisation. Liberalism has not
      delivered self-development and realisation but self-destruction and
      alienation; it has created a society where individuals have liberty
      in abundance but often use their liberty for destructive ends. Mill's
      belief that individual liberty is a precondition for human fulfilment
      contains an almost instinctive appeal, but it is smacks of naive
      utopianism of the worst kind because the prescription of individual
      liberty remains morally vacuous.

      Islam acknowledges the sacred right of individuals to form their own
      values and beliefs that entails ultimate personal responsibility.
      Whilst compulsion to conform to particular religious doctrines is
      strictly forbidden, individuals are encouraged, through the process
      of intelligent discussion, to exercise their liberty in conformity
      with divine guidance. True freedom, according Islam, does not involve
      doing whatever one wants, but doing what one ought to do. It is the
      exercise of individual will in the morally right way. Liberals will
      immediately claim to have detected an implicit totalitarianism
      reminiscent of Rousseau's formulation of the `General Will'[22], yet
      this impulsive, (and utterly predictable) liberal reaction reflects a
      fear of the monstrous totalitarian regimes created on the back of
      western modernist ideologies such as Marxism and Fascism. In
      practice, these ideologies have sought to trap the inherent diversity
      and fluidity of human life into a monolithic social structure that
      leaves no space for a relatively autonomous civil society. The
      Islamic view of true freedom (defined as self-realisation and
      fulfilment) does not lead to totalitarianism because Islam prohibits
      the forceful imposition of its doctrines on others who hold
      contradictory religious and ideological convictions. Hence a society
      guided by Islamic principles of law and order could in fact be
      inhabited by a non-Muslim majority. This leaves room for the
      development of some form of civil society that provides social space
      for open dialogue between different cultural communities.

      Liberalism resonates with the universalistic aspirations of
      Enlightenment philosophy. The belief that nature and the social world
      can be gradually demystified by the instrumental application of
      reason has informed the liberal word view that asserts the validity
      of its ideology by an appeal to universal rational principles.
      Liberalism is hence portrayed as a universal ideology to which any
      dissension is a priori unreasonable. Yet the fundamental beliefs and
      values of liberalism such as the existence of natural rights to life,
      liberty and property are metaphysical concepts that historically find
      their source in an overtly religious view of human reality. The
      sanctity of human life, for example, is not a belief arrived at by
      deductive reason but a meta-rational conviction borne out of a
      religiously inspired ontology. Liberalism in this respect is a
      secularised version of particular aspects of Christian theology, and
      hence in its more fundamentalist guises, often reveals a quasi-
      religious nature.

      The problem for Liberalism is that a universal human rationality and
      human nature have become intellectually discredited ideas. This has
      had the effect of undermining the classical foundations of
      Liberalism, leaving it utterly bereft and in desperate need of
      alternative and credible philosophical grounding. But where can it
      turn to? It cannot appeal to 'universal rationality' because such an
      idea appears dubious at best, equally it cannot appeal to 'human
      nature' because geneticists and biologists have thrown that into
      serious disrepute. Just as frustrating for Liberalism is that it
      cannot intentionally appeal to religion without compromising its
      distinctly secular outlook. Thus Skidelsky makes the following
      astute observations. " Liberalism is facing a crisis. This judgement
      may seem extreme, given the current confidence of liberal
      rhetoric…….Yet the recent upsurge of confidence hides a deeper
      anxiety. We proclaim to the world the values of equality, liberty and
      toleration, but we have no idea on what authority we proclaim them.
      The older liberalism has no anxieties on this account. It derived its
      principles either from Christian tradition or else from the supposed
      attributes of human nature. Both these sources of justification have
      fallen into disrepute…..Thus rights are no longer deduced, either
      theologically or philosophically. They are proclaimed. Fiat has
      replaced argument. Our faith in our own civilisation is without
      rational foundation. This accounts for the shrill, dogmatic tone of
      modern liberalism"[23]. It is not surprising therefore to find
      liberal political philosophers such as John Gray rejecting ideas of
      human progress, the belief in universal reason and the claim that
      liberalism embodies a universal civilisation. Interestingly, at a
      more perennial level, liberals such as Gray have given up on the
      classical claims of Liberalism[24].

      One may ask what the internecine warfare in the liberal camp has got
      to do with the clash of civilisations thesis. The implication is more
      striking than what many are willing to acknowledge. The covert
      ideological pretext of those that flag up the clash of civilisations
      thesis, usually by announcing the menacing spectre of Islamic
      fundamentalism, is that the only resolution to a possible conflict
      between Islam and the west is for Islam to adapt to liberal ideology.
      But why should the rich, intellectually vibrant and self-confident
      civilisation of Islam conform to a civilisation that is insecure and
      unconfident about its own foundations? Why should Islam bend the knee
      to an ideology that appears to have lost its philosophical bearings?
      The arrogance of Liberal imperialists is no where more evident than
      in their unwillingness to question whether it is in fact the
      classical assumptions of Liberalism that need to be challenged rather
      than Islam. In this context, it is pertinent to point out how
      liberals become very illiberal when their liberal values are
      challenged--rather like the fundamentalist counterparts that liberals
      so venomously deride.

      Liberalism, once the champion of free, critical enquiry, has become
      so entrenched into mainstream political culture, that it has itself
      become a form of uncritical received wisdom. This has had a damaging
      effect on facilitating mature, rational debate, because any view that
      does not automatically subscribe to the conventions of liberal
      thinking is dismissed as irrational, intolerant and bigoted.
      Liberalism thus effectively determines the sorts of questions worthy
      of public attention and circumscribes one can count as a legitimate
      answer. The only debates that are considered to be truly in the
      spirit of democratic dialogue are precisely those debates that occur
      within the boundaries of Liberalism rather than with Liberalism.
      Through the subtle and insidious processes of ideological
      conditioning the dominance of liberal ideology tells us not only what
      to think, but how to think about any given issue. The tyrannical
      pressure of political correctness has become an ally of liberal
      totalitarianism, silencing and marginalising those that seek to
      articulate an alternative way of understanding human relationships.

      Take the example of homosexuality. Liberals will ask whether
      homosexuals experience an erosion of citizenship by not having equal
      civil and legal rights on a footing with heterosexuals. Other
      liberals will take the view that homosexuals need to be given wider
      social space to express their sexuality. Anyone who dares ask the
      question of whether homosexuality is morally equivalent to
      heterosexuality will be seen as being morally judgmental on people's
      lifestyle choices. Yet if one can justify the claim that
      homosexuality is not moral, then the question of civil rights becomes
      nonsensical because it's absurd to argue that we should legally
      sanction immoral behaviour. Those individuals, particularly adherents
      of Christianity (although some Christians appear to be caught in a
      moral quandary on this matter), Judaism and Islam are required to
      reinterpret their moral values so that they become palatable to a
      liberal mindset.

      Liberalism vehemently criticises the imposition of moral rules yet
      sees no contradiction in imposing its own conception of morality on
      members of non-liberal ways of life. Whilst Liberalism on the one
      hand celebrates the richness and diversity of life-plans with their
      attendant moralities, on the other hand it insists on a uniform
      conformity to a liberal conception of morality. A Muslim that takes
      exception to homosexuality on moral grounds will, according to
      liberalism, be judged as being intolerant of an individual's choice
      and life-plan. In other words he will be judged as having an
      incorrect view. This is the case even though Liberalism is premised
      on the assumption that there is no such thing as a definite, morally
      correct view on the basis of which contrary judgements can be classed
      as 'incorrect'. And this is how Liberalism assumes a totalitarian
      character: it enforces liberal ideology on those that choose to think
      differently from Liberalism. The contradictions and inconsistencies
      of Liberalism need to be exposed as a means of searching for an
      alternative and more valid understanding of human relationships.
      Islam, with its wealth of intellectual and cultural resources, must
      surely rank as a candidate in this much needed process.

      Democracy, as a system of collective decision-making, (which must be
      distinguished from Liberalism), offers in theory a more accountable
      and open government responsive to the diverse needs of its citizens.
      In reality Western democracies have become a dictatorship of vested
      corporate interests with ritualistic competition between virtually
      indistinguishable political parties, all vying for the management of
      a single ideology[26]. Ironically, democracy has not given rise to
      the 'tyranny of the majority' which deeply troubled thinkers such as
      Alexis de Tocqueville and J S Mill, in as much as it has given rise
      to the tyranny of an elite minority.

      Liberal democracy is a culturally specific political system that has
      evolved and been shaped by the circumstances and problems thrown up
      by western industrialisation. It makes little philosophical or
      practical sense to demand that the structure of western liberal
      democracy should be artificially grafted onto non-western societies
      that have a radically different cultural and social context. The mere
      fact that Islam does not conform to liberal democracy in all its
      manifestations does not in itself delegitimise Islamic political
      philosophy. Interestingly however, Islam does place emphasis on
      constitutionalism as a means of curbing the excesses and abuses of
      political power, which also involves a concern with affording legal
      protection to fundamental rights. Furthermore it encourages the
      development of institutions that allow all citizens to account public
      officials at all levels of the political system. There is much need
      in Islamic scholarship for a comprehensive account of a distinctly
      modern Islamic political theory- one that stays true to Islamic
      values but demonstrates the relevance and application of Islam in
      dealing with modern social realities.

      There is a great deal of rhetoric in western circles about the
      apparently undemocratic and illiberal nature of Islam, yet much
      western criticism reflects a deep ignorance of the culturally
      particular nature of liberal democracy[27]. This precludes more
      probing questions such as the legitimacy of alternative political
      arrangements to that of liberal democracy. Why should everything be
      necessarily judged according to the terms of liberal democracy? If
      democracy at some level of interpretation entails the idea that
      nations have a right to freely shape and control their political
      destiny, then why cannot non-western nations freely shape their
      political future by developing their own political system? Why
      should it matter if it does not end up as a liberal democracy,
      particularly given its culturally particular nature? Western rhetoric
      against Islam simply fails to answer these more fundamental



      And when it is said unto them, "Do not cause corruption on the earth,
      they say, "We are but reformers." Indeed it is they who are the
      corrupters, but they perceive it not.

      (Qur'aan; 2:11-12)

      If Islam is indeed a viable alternative to the decadence of liberal
      capitalism, then why is it that Muslim societies are understood to be
      examples of abject political and economic failure? Anyone who asks
      such a question, as many western commentators regularly do, is either
      wholly ignorant of the history of colonisation in Muslim countries or
      is deliberately choosing to ignore historical context to convey the
      propagandist message that Islam has become irrelevant and obsolete.
      The reality is that the modern European idea of the nation-state was
      imposed on the Muslim world (for whom nationalism is theologically
      and ideologically abhorrent) by the British and French colonial
      powers. This usually took the form of installing monarchical and
      dictatorial regimes on an arbitrarily carved up map, which
      conveniently served the economic interests of the colonialists. The
      states of Saudia Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Kuwait are
      just some examples. None of these states was established on a
      genuinely democratic or popular basis. The new elites in the Arab
      world, who were more enamoured by the west than the cultural heritage
      of Islam, began a forceful campaign of modernisation on western lines
      that only succeeded in tearing up traditional Islamic institutions
      and creating a contradictory and distorted imitation of the west.

      Given this historical background, the fact is that the Muslim world
      did not encounter modernity as an internally evolving social reality,
      as did Christians in the West, but rather as a colonial instrument of
      control and domination. The western puppet regimes in the Middle
      East, have never permitted open and public debate about the
      relationship between Islam and modernity, for the obvious reason that
      such a debate would immediately bring into question the legitimacy of
      those very regimes. This has spawned what has polemically become
      known as `Islamic Fundamentalism'; grass root political movements
      that are constantly reacting to the irresolvable contradiction
      created by the colonial powers: forcing Muslims to live under
      barbaric regimes that contradict the deeply cherished beliefs of
      Islam. Islamic fundamentalism will quite understandably refuse to
      subside, unless the barbaric regimes that are largely the cause of
      its emergence cease to exist.

      The intense political fervour in the Middle East finds its source in
      economic decadence and political oppression that has become the
      legacy of western colonisation. There is no doubt that many problems
      facing Muslims have internal causes and are thus relatively
      independent of western colonial control, yet what is equally beyond
      doubt is that the difficultly Muslims face in addressing these
      problems is infinitely exacerbated by the unnatural condition of
      living under western propped-up dictatorships. What incenses Muslims
      the world over is the breathtaking hypocrisy of western rhetoric.
      Western political leaders can be found extolling the virtues of
      democracy ad nauseam, yet that very democratic right for the Muslim
      ummah (nation), to use its creative and transformational capacity to
      shape a prosperous future of its own choosing has been brutally,
      systematically and consistently denied to Muslims for over a period
      of 100 years of colonial control. Western apologists are scarcely
      able to convince Muslims that colonialism should be treated as a
      distant historical memory, when the brutal impact of the oppressive
      regimes created by western colonialists is an ever-present reality.
      It is not mere history, it is a contemporary reality that forces
      Muslims to live under the oppressive conditions of colonial control.
      The faces of the regimes may have changed, but the regimes are still
      intact ( even given the demise of Saddam Hussein who was brought into
      power by a US funded coup in the 1960s). Western imperialism has
      replaced old-style colonialism; imperialism is colonisation by proxy
      and that is why Muslims are unlikely to suddenly suffer from
      historical amnesia.

      It is not that modernity has exposed Islam as an irrelevance but that
      the Muslim world has not had a real opportunity to engage with
      modernity in an independent manner that is consonant with its own
      cultural terms of reference. The debate between Islam and modernity
      has not really made any headway, despite the contribution of some
      notable Islamic intellectuals. It is little wonder then that the
      Muslim world in crucial ways falls foul of the standards of western
      modernity and Islam. The clash of civilisations thesis fails to
      acknowledge the historical predicament of the Muslim ummah and
      consequently decontextualises the various trajectories of Islamic
      resistance to western modernity.



      It is He who sent His messenger with guidance and the deen of Truth
      to manifest it over all deens, even though those who ascribe divinity
      to other than Allah may dislike it.

      ( Qur'aan; 61:9)

      The 21st century is likely to be characterised by conflicts at the
      cultural, religious and ethnic levels, and since Islam is seen as the
      only real ideological and cultural contender to secular western
      modernity, the Muslim ummah will probably find itself in the throes
      of any such conflict. This makes the need for rational dialogue
      between these two civilisations absolutely indispensable,
      particularly given the fact that misconceptions have a way of
      stirring unnecessarily hostile encounters.

      This article is consciously guilty of some type of
      essentialism; `Islam' and the `West' have been treated as two
      distinct and internally cohesive civilisations and hence much of the
      analysis has been pitched at general points of criticism that are
      unable to accommodate the subtle nuances that pervade each culture.
      Owing to its doctrinally orientated theology, Islam has a
      comparatively greater degree of internal coherence than the `West',
      yet notwithstanding this fact, both civilisations offer a diversity
      of perspectives drawn different philosophical, juristic and political
      schools of thought. This has an important implication when seeking
      to counterpoise Islamic and Western outlooks. One has to ask which
      perspective within western thought contradicts or affirms a
      particular strand of thought in Islam. This reveals how any
      suggestion of similarities and differences, will in some respects,
      demand a cautious and tentative approach. This is underscored by the
      fact that the period of classical Islamic learning has indelibly
      influenced important aspects of western civilisation, which again
      suggests that the whole notion of an oppostional 'clash' between
      Islam and the West rests upon a woeful ignorance of the historical
      relationship between both cultures.

      There is sufficient common ground between Islam and the West to
      stimulate in interest for all concerned to engage in a balanced, yet
      critical exchange. Non-Muslims must be wary not to approach Islam
      from an ethnocentric bias and Muslims must be careful not to confuse
      the world of imperialistic Realpolitik with the insightful
      contributions of western thinkers, past and present. This complicates
      the picture by having to carefully distinguish between different
      points of conflicts (some actual and others merely potential) which
      operate at different levels, having their own contexts and
      originating out of different reasons. This is a difficult undertaking
      when our experiences are structured so powerfully by social and
      political circumstances that often instinctively force us to view
      each other with immediate suspicion, and unfortunately make for
      convenient manipulation by political demagogues.

      The ritualistic repudiation of Islam as an enclosed belief-system
      scarcely amounts to a refutation, especially when the West has its
      own set of non-negotiable absolutes, which it guards with passionate,
      religious zealotry. Islam has a lot to offer humanity and will not be
      aggressively cajoled by certain elements in the West into redefining
      itself to fit a sterile secular amalgam. Despite years of
      colonisation, orientalism and the efforts of Christian missionaries,
      Islam remains stridently self-assured and tenacious in its commitment
      to the imperative of divine truth. This is a great achievement for
      the Muslim ummah when one considers the fact that none of the
      governments in the Muslim countries are representative of Islam and
      some are actively hostile to even moderate suggestions of

      The West must try to recognise its own secular fundamentalist
      convictions and embark on an effort to turn the spectre of clash of
      civilisations into a civilised meeting between two enormously
      influential cultures, where the aim is to ensure that truth and
      justice triumph over falsehood and oppression. This is precisely
      what J S Mill, an intellectual icon of western liberalism, would have
      recommended. And this is precisely what Islam recommends. If this is
      not undertaken with the alacrity and seriousness that it deserves,
      then the clash of civilisations has every chance of becoming a clash
      of misconceptions.

      Say: " He is (Allah) Most Gracious: we have believed in Him, And on
      Him have we put our trust: So, soon will ye know which (of us) it is
      that is in manifest error

      (Qur'aan; 67:29)




      [1] Samuel Huntington's now infamous essay `Clash of Civilisations'
      (1993) was routinely invoked as an explanation of 9/11.

      [2] Owen Chadwick's `The Secularization of the European Mind in the
      19th Century' provides an excellent account of the different
      intellectual and social factors contributing to the consolidation of
      a secular world view in Europe.

      [3] A J Ayer's `Language, Truth and Logic' is a classical text of
      logical positivism that relates the meaningfulness of statements to
      empirical observation.

      [4] For example, see Prof Jaliluddin Ahmed Khan's `Contemporary
      Atheistic Materialism- A reaction to orthodox Christianity'

      [5] The History of Islamic Political Thought, by Antony Black, p57

      [6] William Craig's `The Kalam Cosmological argument' is an excellent
      modern presentation of the classical argument for the existence of
      God put forward by Islamic philosophers.

      [7] 'Magisteria' is a term coined by Stephen Jay Gould to
      distinguish between the different domains of `teaching authority'
      between religion and science. It is beyond the remit of this essay to
      explore the significance of the distinction, but suffice to say that
      there is more to the distinction than a simple formula of keeping
      peace between `religion' and `science'. See Stephen Jay
      Gould, "Nonoverlapping Magisteria," Natural History, March 1997, p16.

      [8] G. E. M. Anscombe, ` "Whatever has a beginning of existence must
      have a cause": Hume's argument exposed', Analysis XXXIV (1974), 150.

      [9] Enquiry xii. II.125

      [10] William Demski's The Design Inference is considered to be a
      brilliant exposition of how scientific knowledge validates the
      inference towards an ultimate being. The argument must not be
      confused with Paley's classical teleological argument.

      [11] Atheists have tried to bend over backwards to avoid the
      inference of an ultimate cause to the universe by devising various
      pseudo-scientific constructs that apparently negate the need for an
      ultimate cause- even given the origin of the universe. See God,
      Chance & Necessity by Keith Warde.

      [12] A critical examination of this subject can be found in `The
      Enlightenment. An evaluation of its assumptions, attitudes and
      values' , by Norman Hampson

      [13] Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov . J P Satre, the
      French atheist existentialist similarly asked in rhetorical fashion
      whether "everything is permissible if God does not exist?"

      [14] The French Philosopher, Auguste Comte (1798-1857), was a
      particular advocate of this view. Hegel and Marx have their own
      version of the concept that history is an evolutionary process.

      [15] F Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, translated by Alexander
      Tille ( 1896)

      [16] See A Companion to Ethics, edited by Peter Singer, p175-186.

      [17] By 'framework', I mean the moral guidance laid out in the Qur'an
      and the Sunnah (sayings, teachings and practices of the Prophet
      Mohammed (pbuh)).

      [18] Independent, 31 May 2003. Two Worlds One Question

      [19] Francis Fukuyama (1992) The End of History and the Last Man

      [20] J S Mill's On Liberty has become a classical text of Modern

      [21] A left and right wing spectrum exists within liberalism between
      communitarian liberals on the left and libertarian liberals on the

      [22] J J Rousseau, The Social Contract (1762)

      [23] Edward Skidelsky, A liberal Trag<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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