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5D Thinking Team
Prolegomena to the Metaphysics of Islam by Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas by Dr Abdul Majid Khan

The contemporary world is marked by ever-increasing changes in human thought. Theories and meta-theories are formulated to cater to some dimensions of the physical world, which is considered to be the ultimate objective of human inquiry. Speculations and gymnastics of mental activities have evaded the firmness and convictions in man. Very little is seen in addressing the profound questions related to the purpose of being and the relation of the physical world to its origin and purpose. Since the Renaissance, the Western world has continued its sway not only on military, political, economic, and social domains of the globe. It has strongly affected the thought patterns of humans with consequences on their actions. Followers of religions too have fallen prey to the domineering effects of the academic and intellectual paraphernalia of the West. It is not to suggest Muslim scholars and intellectuals have not responded to the challenge.


However, very few, possessing a comprehensive grasp of the subject matter have dealt with the challenges on a profound level. Being fully rooted in Islamic tradition and loyal to its intellectual and spiritual ethos, Syed Naquib al Attas appears to have mastered the major elements of contemporary thought. He raises fundamental questions as to the nature of sciences, concept and conceptualization of knowledge, as well as the adaption of methods and theories. He elaborates that worldviews of different civilizations are based on their distinct metaphysical system. A metaphysical system provides the interpretation of what is taken to be ultimately true and real. Attas is not contended with providing a fundamental critique of the Western thought basis and formulations but offers a set of comprehensive, alternative thought patterns based on the worldview and metaphysics of Islam, a repository of the last and perfect divine revelation and its realization. It needs reiteration that Islamic metaphysics is based on Revelation which is an authentic and authoritative exposition of Truth and reality. Its worldview, sciences and associated theories need to be verified in the light of Revelation and purpose of Revelation. Al-Attas elaborates:

“that knowledge is not entirely a property of human mind, and that the sciences derived from it are not the products solely of unaided human reason and sense experience possessing an objectivity that precludes value judgment, but that knowledge and the sciences need guidance and verification from the statements and general conclusions of revealed Truth, it is incumbent upon scholars and the learned to acquaint themselves with a clear understanding of the metaphysics of Islam and of the permanently established constituent elements of the worldview derived from it.”

The human mind, soul, and spirit function in tandem, guided and inspired by the revelation and produce what constitutes “knowledge” to be actualized by practical dimensions of thought. Adab, he says, is a reflection of wisdom (Hikmah). Adab, he emphasizes, is the spectacle of justice (adalah) as it is reflected by wisdom (Hikmah). Islamic scholars have been insisting upon the fallacy of scientism for its shaky basis and unfounded and unsubstantiated claims about fundamental questions of the purpose of human life and its relation to God and the akhirah (the other world). Insufficiency and inadequacy of the ‘scientific interpretations’ are demonstrated effectively, among others by Said Nursi in his discourses (Risale-i Nur). Nursi’s introduction of the method and concept of Mana-i-Harfi is to help one to connect ‘appearing dimensions’ of reality to the ‘real dimensions’ lying within the attributes of God, helps one to only recognize Him but also worship and obey Him as shown by the Revelation (Quran) and the last messenger Muhammad (SAW) and qualify to enjoy His grace (here and after death) and salvation in the hereafter.

Profound intellectual discourses of Syed Naquib al- Attas’ publications are a must for the intellectual grooming of seekers of Truth (Muslims in particular) to help provide an alternative, authentic, stable, and blessed paradigm of thought and action. Every sincere and serious scholar should yearn to be part of this endeavor.

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It is a unique approach to read the universe like an elegant book. It is a new way of understanding science to strengthen your belief and establish sound character.
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