Thursday, 24 December 2015

The Station of no-station

Wisdom of Prophet Muhammad, Peace be Upon Him, according to Ibn Arabi

Is it possible to discover a point of view that comprehends the truth in all points of view? Is it possible to state one’s “worldview” or vision that could resist any conceivable criticism or deconstruction? To these questions there is a positive answer. And that is a vision that unconditionally submits to Truth or totality of all truths, a vision of radical innocence that is open to all experience, a humility to qualify all one’s assertions or claims of access regarding anything including such ideals as Beauty, Truth, Justice and Goodness or revelations of Being or pursuit of Perfection and thus not claim absoluteness for any immanent thing or idea. And one who embodies the great Station that is not a particular station or ideological viewpoint and thus embraces the reality or truth of all stations,  is Muhammad (SAW). This is how “the Greatest Master” – as he is called by a vast majority of Ulama and Saints – presents the “supremely successful person” of secular-cum-spiritual history. Let us meditate a passage from Ibn Arabi’s Naqsh al-Fusûs that sums up contents of larger work Fusûs -al-Hikm, in Chittick’s translation:
  • “God does not become determined for him according to …various fields of knowledge, modes of perception, beliefs, visions, traditions or descriptions, because of his awareness of the Majesty of God and of the fact that He is not limited to all or any of these things…. He has shown them that He encompasses them from all of their hidden and manifest directions and that He reveals Himself to them in them, not in any one thing, direction, name or level. So they enter the Trackless Desert in His contemplation, and their bewilderment is from Him, through Him and in Him.”
      For Ibn ‘Arabî , Muhammedan is, as one Ibn Arabi scholar puts it,
  • “not a designation of a particular historical community but the very name of universality and perfection. It is the name of a station, theoretically available to everyone, attainable to the select few who travel on and on, perfectly realizing all stations until he arrives at the station of no station in which one has nothing of one’s own and therefore mirrors the Real most perfectly and is not defined by any particular divine name or attribute but brings together all standpoints or stations.” 
      Can we ever say we have seen enough of beauty, now no more? Can we ever assert we are perfectly good and need no more movement towards the Good? Imagine a person whom nothing can satisfy, whom no belief binds, who is perfectly open to experience, who has nothing to fear, no anxiety to reach to apprehension of losing. Move on and keep deconstructing any signpost or ideology or interpretation or form offered as an absolute and then we can have some idea of the grandeur and comprehensiveness of the Muhammedan Station of no-station.
      Imitating the Prophet (SAW) whom he primarily conceives in metaphysical terms is the way to perfection and “an ideal of inclusion rather than exclusion, an ideal of integral culture, not an attitude of purity in peril, not xenophobia disguised as piety, not totalitarianism, not reaction.”  Itibayi sunnat, in this sense, isn’t known by those who can’t connect jurisprudence to ontology or metaphysics.
      All endeavours are for realizing the station of Muhammad (SAW), all seeking is seeking of Muhammad (SAW), all roads lead to the abode of Muhammad (SAW) as we find, in all cases, ceaseless movement for reaching the unreachable Beyond rather than some resting place. Deep down, we are  never satisfied with any given state or achievement or object though, as frail  creatures, we are often content with our little seeking and adventures and familiar relations. Muhammad (SAW) is the life and fire in every experience as all experience requires the Light of Muhammad (SAW) as an ontological ground. For those who can see, it is Muhammad’s (SAW) flag everywhere. Great na’t such as Iqbal’s na’t (“Nigahe ishq-o masti main wahi awwal, wahi  aakhir” or Zoaq-o-Shoaq etc.) is best understood in light of Ibn Arabi’s understanding of the phenomenon of Muhammad (SAW).
      Muhammedan saints give “each created thing exactly what is due to it on the basis of seeing it as a unique self-disclosure (tajallî) of the absolute Haqq.” For Ibn Arabi a Muhammedan is one who realizes the perfections of all the prophets (these perfections can’t be enumerated as their archetypes number 124000, in keeping with the number of prophets from the time of Adam) – an ideal worthy of emulating for every man and who can assert that he is truly a Muhammedan and who can be more inclusivist than a Muhammedan in this sense? The highest station of no-station demands disengaging oneself from all qualities, bonds, limitations, and constrictions and standing Non-delimited Wujūd i.e., to be absolutely open to the Real with no imposition or will of one’s own. Ibn ‘Arabî thus demands nothing less than Universal Compassion and encountering the other with infinite humility and care – an ideal which Levinas attempts to appropriate.
      It is in light of the Muhammedan Station of no-station that one can critique all Fascistic, Totalitarian or Fundamentalist or Class/Gender/Identity centric exclusivist ideological projects that claim access to absolute truth or privileged position. As beliefs limit or circumscribe the Formless Freedom that constitutes the Heaven/Void we finally seek, a perfect man needs to transcend all beliefs according to Ibn Arabi. This also follows from recognizing the implications of Divine Majesty – ceaselessly move on, go on wondering and questioning. Those who reduce Islam to a creedal system or a religion among other religions (for Ibn Arabi Islam is not an ideology but submission to Truth – The Real  – that has infinite faces denoted by potentially infinite Names and Attributes grounding all possibilities that constitute the world/life) or reduce Muhammad (SAW) to a postman  (for the Master the Quran is the Prophet’s self) or fail to understand the significance of the Prophet’s love of such “worldly” things as women and perfume (along with prayer) according to the tradition he comments upon in this chapter need to read Ibn Arabi in whom we find such profundity that the likes of Heidegger and Derrida and modern sages from various cultures could only stand in deep awe. Ours is indeed turning out to be an the age of Ibn Arabi who is being rediscovered everywhere for articulating the vision of Love and Justice that can’t be deconstructed. This vision would require not resting content with any given form of these ideals. It is perpetual cautioning against absolutization of humanly interpreted or conceived ideas or posing as God’s spokespersons. When you see anyone too anxious to label, judge and exclude in any name, on any pretext, impatient to live in uncertainties and aspiring to impose his view on others, recall the understanding of bewilderment according to Ibn Arabi and seek to question. All men are united in their adoration for beauty, in their thirst for joy and love, in their endeavour to pursue perfection or the Good and respect for truth; they aren’t and can’t be united in any particular formulation of these ideals because the highest station we all seek is no particular station. We can afford to lose ourselves or break free in bewilderment or hairah  (because Being can never cease to intoxicate or we can never finish see it lifting all its veils) and not in any object “…terae samnae aasman aur bi haen.” It is on the Muhammedan axis of wonder that philosophy, science, mysticism and faith meet. Wonder implies eternal youth and freshness of life Milad is all about.

Friday, 18 December 2015

The Religion of Beauty

Consciously or unconsciously we keep adoring beauty

It is told that  once Ananda, the beloved disciple of the Buddha, saluted his master and said: “Half of the holy life, O master, is friendship with the beautiful, association with the beautiful, communion with the beautiful”.“Say not so, Ananda, say not so!” the master replied.“It is not half the holy life; it is the whole of the holy life.” (SAMYUTTA NIKAYA)
Why is there a universal “weakness” for the most useless thing called beauty? ( Laotze had spoken of beauty as “the usefulness of the useless,”  and Kant as “Purposiveness without purpose.”) Because beauty is from the otherworld. Plato meant the same when he said “beauty is the splendour of the Truth.” When women saw beautiful Joseph they exclaimed he is an angel. See beautiful girl and one exclaims a houri from heaven. Indeed beauty is from the otherworld and its existence is one of the most powerful proofs for the existence of God. Ghalib’s answer to his own question yeh pari chehra loag koun hae is they are manifestations of the One. We might be tempted to deny God in our sceptical moments or at least grant our failure to comprehend His presence near and around  (as “nearer to us than our jugular vein,” as Al-Muheet) and within us but we can’t deny that we are attracted to beauty in human face, in smiles, in innocent gestures,  in sounds, in rhythms, in colours. In fact in everything one can discover beauty, and if one can’t one is spiritually blind. Ibn Arabi was asked what about human faces and he said he hasn’t seen it. As beings all things including the  lowliest or seemingly ugly or harmful  are beautiful as Ghazzali and Eckhart said.  In God nothing is ugly; whatever ugliness we see is because we see things outside God or through manipulating utilitarian self. Abu Yazid said that he saw nothing without first seeing God. That is precisely what Nagarjuna means when he exclaims samsara is nirvana or this world is Heaven. A saint was asked by an atheist where is God and he pointed to mountains and landscape around and said see it. See it, attend to it, contemplate it and get lost in it and you have seen something from God. For the gnostic all things are tajilliyat – epihphanies. Joyce talks about an epiphany his hero experienced on seeing a wading girl. However, a saint is capable of seeing God in everything, not only in women. A flower is enough as a proof for God for him as Schuon has remarked. The tragedy is we fail to see as lovers and saints see. We have lost the faculty of seeing as Adam saw in Paradise before the Fall. All things are Infinite if we could truly see and then angels would shake hands with us as they did with Blake. This is similar to what Companions were told  by the Prophet when they complained of loss of vision when they leave his Presence.
      Consciously or unconsciously we keep adoring beauty. We all – including the most puritanical – love beauty in harmonious sound. Music if defined as harmonious sound is the feast God offers us from dawn to dusk in the rhythms of nature –birds, insects, rains, streams, winds all are playing a symphony free for all. We can understand God’s Name “The Irresistible” in many ways including the phenomenon of our spontaneous attraction to music – the beauty of sound – and virgin nature teeming with all kinds of beauties. It is God the Wadood who attracts us and we can’t resist. To be human is to be open to Beauty. How can we witness God or His Unity or perpetually remember Him through farz-i-dayim? The easiest way is by being open to countless forms of beauty. A poet see more beauty than non-poets. He also creates it as does any artist. A saint bathes in beauty; he sees only beauty. How beautiful is the world is known only when we are in love or have found some other means of escaping the great blinker that objectifies or degrades everything – ego. One can’t name a  completely ugly thing; all things participate in beauty or some degree. God alone is perfect beauty. Not even paradise can be. And man must ceaselessly seek perfect beauty and that is why nothing in this world or the otherworld satisfies him finally until he is granted the Vision of God. In this world nothing satisfies us finally except remembrance of God or the Void that is the plenitude of Being.
      If the idea of worship implies reverent devotion to the Other that is not the self and not for the fortification of the self but its liberation in love and devotion, all humans can be said to worship God in the aspect of Beauty. We are all moved by the beauty of the soul and that is why all of us bow before the presence of saints. To be man is to love beauty. Atheism  understood as rejection of God the Jameel– the ground of beauty – is inhuman view that no sane person accepts. When the Quran says  “Afillahi Shakkun….” it implies that one can’t entertain a doubt regarding God the Other manifest in the heavens and the earth. Baudelaire, the poet, to whom  modern art owes its renewed awareness of the theological quality and tyrannical spirituality of beauty, writes:

  • ". . . it is this immortal instinct for the beautiful which makes us consider the earth and its various spectacles as a sketch of, as  correspondence with, Heaven. . . . It is at once through poetry and across poetry, through and across music, that the soul glimpses the splendors situated beyond the grave; and when an exquisite poem brings tears to the eyes, these tears are not proof of an excess of joy, they are rather the testimony of an irritated melancholy, a demand of the nerves, of a nature exiled in the imperfect and desiring to take possession immediately, even on this earth, of a revealed paradise." 
      Modern age is the ugliest in history, as is noted by the greatest art historian Coomaraswamy. In previous ages even a spoon or a cup was painted with all one’s soul and thus beautiful. Man surrounded himself with beauty, lived beauty and radiated beauty.  Almost all the wonders that will outlast modern age are from ancient or modern world. We have largely forgotten beauty in our houses, in our  surroundings, in cities, in villages, in souls.  It is museums that are beautiful and they are generally from ages past when man’s  religion was beauty, and not utility. Today our architecture is, generally speaking, designed for utility or vanity. And that has given us largely ugly, homogeneous, and inhospitable world where all cities look alike and you can find suffocating monotony of banks, malls, schools, hospitals  that are designed without regard for vivifying symbolism and for the dead – customers/clients/alienated individuals or hired workers. They are best for the dead.
      Pursuing perfection is pursuing beauty and that is precisely the end of Islam – Ihsan which means doing things perfectly, so perfectly that one can say that God does them. An artist, like a true servant of God, has no sense of autonomous agency or ego. He has perfectly surrendered so that his hand is God’s hand.(“Hath hai Alah ka Bandae  Mumin ka Haath”)
      It is in the name of beauty, a more perfect understanding of beauty that philosophers, Sufis and  poets criticize one another. Or critics including our enemies criticize us in the name of a principle of greater perfection or beauty and thus we should be thankful to them if they truly succeed in bringing to our attention a greater beauty.
      I conclude with a quote from Dostoevsky, the great priest of the Religion of Beauty:
  • “Man can live without science, he can live without bread, but without beauty he could no longer live, because there would no longer be anything to do to the world. The whole secret is here, the whole of history is here.”
Islamic Shahadah has been rendered as “There is no beauty but Beauty.” All things are lawful or can be enjoyed in God. Man is saved by beauty according to all traditions and no sane person can fail to understand it. However, all religions also warn us against confounding a particular beauty with the Absolute Beauty and temptation to forget God while enjoying His beautiful world outside God.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Reading Peter Kreeft

Muslims and Christians face almost similar challenge of making God’s word intelligible in a world that has been decisively impacted by Marx, Darwin and Freud.

One of the greatest tragedies that have befallen the Muslim world is forgetting its great heritage in human and divine sciences crippling them in the face of modern challenges that require a philosophical idiom to comprehend and respond. Muslims have hardly learnt from Christian and Jewish counterparts. Great names in Judeo-Christian thought in the modern world are mostly philosophers or theologians who take full cognizance of the challenge from secularizing thought currents. It is a Christian philosopher who has written one of the most celebrated texts on secular age titled A Secular Age. It is such brilliant Jewish philosophers as Buber, Heschel and Levinas who have presented some of the most compelling ethico-mystical visions for the modern world. It is Paul Tillich, a Protestant philosopher, who has given us one of the most compelling approaches to God that modern minds finds irresistible. It is a Catholic philosopher Maritain who has given us some of the most  brilliant analyses of the modern malaise of disbelief from a Christian or more traditional viewpoint. A study of his works like Art and Scholasticism and The Range of Reason shows how shallow are the ideologies that veto God from the rational and artistic consciousness on which the modern mind bases its key claims. Christian thinkers have not hesitated to deeply engage with atheistic or pagan or other secularizing thought currents and in the process it has become possible to be a perfectly rational Christian in the face of not only such rather shallow band of new atheists from Dawkins to Harris, but also such seemingly deadly foes of Christianity like Nietzsche and Lyotard.
      Muslims and Christians face almost similar challenge of making God’s word intelligible in a world that has been decisively impacted by Marx, Darwin and Freud. While the post Sir Syedian Muslims world has largely chosen to avoid, with proper philosophical idiom, encounter with the West with such exceptions including the likes of Iqbal, Nasr, Fazlur Rehman, Abu Nasr Zayd, Arkoun, Jabiri and some lesser known scholars from Izzatbegowich to Shabir Akhter to Jamal Khawja, the Christian world has been quite upto the challenge culminating in such figures as Peter Kreeft whom we today study. Kreeft illustrates virtue of being a philosopher and a first rate theologian. He has the courage and wit to write wonderful and insightful dialogues between Socrates and Sartre, or Socrates and Nietzsche. In choosing both the Greek philosophical and Christian theological and mystical heritages to approach the challenge from Modernity while mastering a great style, he emerges as one of the most accessible thinkers on a large variety of questions that are asked by new generation fighting disbelief and nihilism. Muslim scholars have, generally speaking, banked upon Western responses to disbelief and keep referring to it for instilling confidence in the audience which lives and breathes in an atmosphere of scepticism. Popularity of such books as God Arises by Maulana Wahidudin Khan and The Quran, Bible and Science by Maurice Bucaille evidences dependence on Western sources to fight disbelief in God and scripture respectively. The fact is Muslim religious authorities have, generally speaking, avoided squarely facing  the challenge from newer thought currents and thus need to bank upon those Western advocates of religion who have squarely faced “ilmi jaded ka challenge.” Today some points from Peter Kreeft to introduce his overall approach and relevance, especially for a sceptical audience.
      First his remarks about philosophy that one needs to contrast with attitude towards it in Muslim seminaries and in popular Muslim imagination that is deeply suspicious of philosophy as such. “Philosophy is not an esoteric, specialized, scholarly, technical, and dull affair but rather a thing so natural and so universal and so important that it is one of the fundamental purposes we were created for: "the love of wisdom." . Philosophy is important to every person because philosophy is about the meaning of the life of every person, and about the right conduct of the life of every person.”
      About his choice of Socrates as the philosopher and his protagonist (recalling some Muslim thinkers for whom he is indeed inspired and a soul mate): “Socrates got under my hat and has not left, thank God. He is the philosopher I should be, the philosopher we all should be. But no one is. Socrates was the greatest philosopher; that's why he wrote nothing. He didn't need to. He lived his words.”
      It is on prayer that I find, after Frithjof Schuon’s Prayer Fashions Man, the most profound  deliberations in recent times in Kreft’s work. Just one remark here: “No one who ever said to God, ‘Thy will be done’ and meant it with his heart, ever failed to find joy—not just in heaven, or even down the road in the future in this world, but in this world at that very moment, here and now.”  This recalls Ghazzali’s and other Sufi explications of  the station of acceptance (Maqam i Raza).
      We have heard so many, mostly unconvincing, answers to the question regarding sexual morality and houris for women. We have also not been receiving convincing reasons why lust is proscribed with such vehemence in religions. The best treatment regarding this question I have come across in modern times from Kreeft: “God is love, man is fulfilled in love. Lust happens to man as does craving for food. Craving can’t be an end; love is an end in itself….The highest pleasure always comes in self-forgetfulness. Self always spoils its own pleasure. Pleasure is like light; if you grab at it, you miss it; if you try to bottle it, you get only darkness; if you let it pass, you catch the glory. The self has a built-in, God-imaging design of self-fulfilment by self-forgetfulness, pleasure through unselfishness, ecstasy by ekstasis, "standing-outside-the-self". This is not the self-conscious self-sacrifice of the do-gooder but the spontaneous, unconscious generosity of the lover.”  Kreeft recalls in us Islam’s view of sexuality, when enjoyed in proper framework, as sacred and one recalls Ghazzali who said it gives a foretaste of paradise. 
      One may write on paper the questions about religion or rationale of certain do’s and don’ts of religion and compare the answers from popular preachers on TV or books available in the market to the answers philosophers like Kreeft or Nasr give and one can decide why modern world reserves the first place for philosophers and why they shake our hearts and minds and command our reverence. It is illumined philosophers borrowing their light from the “Niche of Prophecy” who have been considered the greatest and most influential scholars of respective traditions. Hujjatul Islams, Philosophers, basically interpret the world though some help change it (we first need to understand the world we wish to change, as has been remarked by a great philosopher.) Poets who are in a sense poet-philosophers are indeed our unknown legislators as Shelley said.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Who speaks for Hamadani today?

The basic problem I attempt to deal with is clarifying some aspects of debate on implementation of Islam in secular states, in light of key insights from Tradition (the Way of Salaf i Saliheen). For Islam the sacred-secular binary is ultimately transcended as is the division between West and East, ancient and modern (“Daleeli kem nazri qisayi qadeem-o-jadeed"). Islam appropriates all that is grand and noble and valuable (“Al-hikmatu zaalat-ul mumin”) in any thought current.
      I argue that we need to engage with modern political thought currents in light of traditional understanding of politics as grounded in metaphysics/Ad-Deen, and if some key motivations and insights from secular thinkers like Marx can be shown to concur with it, we shouldn’t fight shy of it. Since our dialogue is with secular Marxist or liberal democratic or other forms of modern political thought, one has to explore if we can talk in their idiom without distorting traditional understanding, or find common grounds for dialogue. Both totalitarian state capitalism, miscalled socialism, and free market capitalism are unsatisfactory or contradict basic ethos of Islam. Both need to be critically approached and placed in traditionalist perspective. And that is precisely what I have been doing in all my published work. If traditionalist interpretation is not the best or most comprehensive intellectually, spiritually, what else is?
      One need not argue the point that there is a sun shining when one basks in its light. One only needs to open one’s eyes to see and verify. I state some facts – facts and not interpretations (provided one can sustain fact-interpretation binary) that should clarify my position, or what I take to be Hamadani’s position and invite more comprehensive engagement, in academic style, with the problems I raise.
Fact of disagreements amongst Masters on sociopolitical, juristic and theological thought:

Almost all great names in Muslim history disagree with one another on many issues including juristic, scholastic, philosophical and reading of many sciences. Hamadani agrees and disagrees with his predecessor Masters and those following him agree and disagree with him. Great names in Islamic history, from Imam Malik to Shah Waliullah, disagree with him on certain juristic, theological and philosophical issues. All great names in Modern Islam, from Iqbal to Nasr, disagree with some aspect of his thought on socio-political issues. Disagreements imply health of a community, not disrespect. If I express preference for certain views, it is on the basis of giants of history and tradition and not in my personal capacity. And ultimately methodology is to analyze an argument on its own merits. Philosophy understood as love of wisdom, as respect for logic and as a dimension of Hikmah that Prophet (SAW) taught, passes no fatwas; it seeks deeper meanings or intentions or spirit behind linguistic signs. It seeks primarily neither to condemn nor to condone but to understand. If we differ in understanding, we can attempt to reach an agreement based on proper dialogue, say on the terms Habermas suggests.

Fact of refinement in scientific understanding:

Now isn’t it the fact that anatomy and physiology known to our forefathers has been drastically changed and no medieval writer could be read unedited today on these things? Compare modern scientific figures on the number of muscles, bones, nerves with those mentioned by Hamadani and one can see what is what. Hamadani’s endorsing of physiognomy, another “science” cultivated during medieval times, is today generally speaking, considered a pseudoscience or at best half baked science. If that science is implemented, the character of more than half of  our acquaintances will be suspected and many serving people will be thrown out of many sensitive departments. The point is that Masters like Hamadani are masters in spiritual sciences, not natural sciences which keep refining even within days, not to speak of centuries. Great masters from Aristotle to Ibn Sina to Ibn Arabi all have stated certain opinions according to then prevalent sciences. Symbolic value still intact, empirical content can be disputed. It must however be noted that getting some scientific facts wrong makes no difference to moral-spiritual arguments Hamadani makes while invoking them.
Fact of changed political realities in our world:

In medieval times there was no concept of nation states, no passports, no citizenship in current sense of the term, no subject who votes and holds rulers accountable to him/to judiciary/ constitution, no globalization, no large scale mixing of people or close association of people of different faiths in offices, in public places, in travel. Isn’t it the fact that Muslims seek to live in secular states if they are in minority (and vice versa also applies for other communities who think they are safer in secular states)? Isn’t it the fact that even Muslim factions, Shias and Sunnis, are not able to live amicably in major religious states we know? How can a book discussing socio-political issues (to be distinguished from metaphysical/spiritual/divine sciences that are timeless and are not to be edited in any age if we are to stay as believing community) that can be understood or appreciated best in medieval milieu assuming none of these things remain in its original shape without need of extensive footnotes and textual changes today? An author most often makes changes in second edition of book and even scriptures have to use the principle of nasikh and mansokh to take cognizance of changed situations in few years from their first revelation.
      Who says that the notions of Dar-al Islam and Dar-al-Harb aren’t uncontested in modern Muslim thought, not to speak of secular thought? Although we can still appreciate the spirit behind such categories as Dar-al-Islam and Dar-al-Harb in light of such notions as divine or virtuous and nonvirtuous cities of which great thinkers from Plato and Augustine to Farabi and today Voegelin speak about, they can’t be  literally read and imported today.
Democracy  as a condition and not a doctrine:
Democracy interpreted as rule for the people and by the consultation among people honouring Divine Measure that embodies in value orientation or comprehensive understanding of welfare is, in principle, acceptable to all believing communities and arguably to secular sensibility as well. Democracy understood more as a condition that is de facto the case today and not a particular doctrine that situates itself against divine sovereignty has to be faced and respectfully, though critically approached. Isn’t it the fact that almost all important names in recent history of Islam have used such terms as democracy (Iqbal, Shariati, Azad) or theodemocracy  (Maududi) or emphasized consultation as key virtue in Islamic politics and even tried to marry the notion of Walayati Faqeeh with democratic ideal (Khomeni)? Since the modern world has largely accepted certain form of democracy for reasons that we needn’t discuss, one must ask what precisely is the problematic element in its theory and practice and seek to appropriate it in light of traditional political thought which would embody the essence of the institution of philosopher king/khalifa.

The challenge before  Muslims who want Islam to be implemented is to argue how to make, for instance, Hamdani talk to the likes of Leo Strauss, Schmitt, Agamben, Voegelin, Zizek  on the one hand and to likes of Mulla Omar, Bagdadi, Zahravi, on the other hand. To the twin problems of desacralization through secularization, and violence or intolerance through fundamentalism, I see in traditionalization of political thought the best antidote, and our task is how we can express the Tradition in contemporary idiom. Seeing Syed Moududi, Iqbal, Khomeni, Shariati, Arkoun, Fazlur Rahman, Amin Ahsan Islahi and many other important contributors to this debate on Islamic political thought, one seeks to make an informed choice in the face of highly confusing and complex times today when we witness regimes being toppled, massive executions of political opponents, violent ideological appropriations of Islam from a lot of religio-political movements and conflicting interests of big powers in inciting violence or sponsoring wars.