Sociology of the Quran Part I
Ayatullah Murtada Mutahhari - XKP
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The outlook of a school of thought regarding society and history and its specific approach to them, plays a decisive role in its ideology. From this point of view, it is essential, in the context of Islamic world outlook, to throw light on the Islamic approach to society and history.
It is evident that Islam is neither a theory of society nor a philosophy of history. In the sacred Book of Islam, no social or historical problem is dealt with in the technical jargon of sociology and philosophy of history.
We shall begin with society and then proceed to discuss history. Following are some of the questions that can be raised about society:
1. What is society?
2. Is man by nature social and gregarious?
3. Is it true that the individual is primary and society is secondary, or is the truth contrary to it, that is, society is primary and individual is secondary in importance? Or is there any third possible approach?
4. The relationship between society and tradition.
5. Whether the individual is free or if he is determined by society and the social structure?
6. In what institutions, poles, and groups is society classifiable according to its primary divisions?
7. Whether human societies are absolutely of the same nature and essence, their differences being similar to the differences among members of the same species? Or if they vary according to geographic variations, temporal and spatial conditions, and levels of development of their culture and civilization, assuming different forms and essences with each calling for a separate sociology based upon its particular ideology? In other words, is a single system of sociology, ethics, and ideology applicable to all humanity, in the same way as a single system of medicine and laws of physiology applies to all human beings regardless of their geographic, racial and historical variations?
Does every society, according to its regional, cultural and historical background, require a special sociology and affirm a particular ideology?
8. Are human societies, which from the dawn of history up to the present day have been diversified and grown independent of one another, with a kind of pluralism governing them (at least in an individual if not in a generic sense), moving from plurality and diversity towards attainment of unity and homogeneity? Does the future of humanity lie in attaining one society, one culture and one civilization, and whether at the end its plurality will be replaced by a stage of homogeneity in which all its contradictions and conflicts would be overcome and resolved? Or, contrarily, is humanity eternally condemned to multiplicity of culture and ideology, and to a pluralism that reinforces the social identity of its particular, units?
In our view, these are the relevant problems which need to be discussed from the Islamic point of view, so that these issues are brought to light and put. in a proper perspective. We propose to deal briefly with these issues one by one.
upon the origin of private property. The societies in which the conception of private property does not exist are basically unipolar, such as the primitive communist societies or those communist societies which are likely to be formed in the future. A society in which the right to private property. exists is, of necessity, bipolar: Hence, society is either unipolar or bipolar. There is no third alternative possible. In bipolar societies, human beings are divided into two groups, viz. the
It is the history and the culture of every nation which necessitate its own special philosophy, its own system of education, religion, morality and art. In other words, as man himself is considered as being without any specific essence and form, and who draws his identity subsequently from culture, in the same way, the principles and basic materials of human culture are also devoid of any form, colour, and expression. It is history which gives them an identity, a form, and an expression, and
verse 28 states: Every ummah (society) shall be summoned to its record. (45:28) Thereupon we come to know that not only individuals have a particular record of deeds of their own, but societies are also judged by their own records of deeds, because they, too, are like living beings who are conscious, responsible, and accountable for their acts, as they have freedom of will and act accordingly. In Surat al-'An`am, verse 108 states: … .unto every nation have We made their deeds seem
committed the sin. It is essential to remind here that mere approval of a sin, as long as it remains a verbal approval alone and practical involvement has not occurred, is not to be considered as a sin. For example, a person commits a sin and another comes to know about it before or after its committal and approves it, even though the approval leads to the stage of resolution but is not translated into action, it is not a sin; as the resolution of an individual to commit a sin, which is not
translated into action may not be considered a sin. An approval is considered as participation in sin when it plays an active role in its planning and execution. The collective sins belong to this category. The social atmosphere and the social spirit favour the occurrence of the sin and support it. If one of the members of a society whose approval is a part of the collective will and whose decision is a part of the collective decision commits the sin, it is here that the sin of an individual