Islam and the Destiny of Man

Islam and the Destiny of Man

Islam and the Destiny of Man

Islam and the Destiny of Man

Synopsis

Islam and the Destiny of Man by Charles Le Gai Eaton is a wide-ranging study of the Muslim religion from a unique point of view. The author, a former member of the British Diplomatic Service, was brought up as an agnostic and embraced Islam at an early age after writing a book (commissioned by T.S. Eliot) on Eastern religions and their influence upon Western thinkers. As a Muslim he has retained his adherence to the perennial philosophy which, he maintains, underlies the teachings of all the great religions.

The aim of this book is to explore what it means to be a Muslim, a member of a community which embraces a quarter of the world's population and to describe the forces which have shaped the hearts and the minds of Islamic people. After considering the historic confrontation between Islam and Christendom and analysing the difference between the three monotheistic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), the author describes the two poles of Muslim belief in terms of Truth and Mercy the unitarian truth which is the basis of the Muslim's faith and the mercy inherent in this truth. In the second part of the book he explains the significance of the Qur an and tells the dramatic story of Muhammad's life and of the early Caliphate. Lastly, the author considers the Muslim view of man's destiny, the social structure of Islam, the role of art and mysticism and the inner meaning of Islamic teaching concerning the hereafter.

Throughout this book the author is concerned not with the religion of Islam in isolation, but with the very nature of religious faith, its spiritual and intellectual foundations, and the light it casts upon the mysteries and paradoxes of the human condition."

Excerpt

Religion is a different matter.

Other subjects may lend themselves, in varying degree, to objective study, and in some cases personal commitment serves only to distort what should be a clear and balanced picture. Religion is a different matter because here objectivity only skims the surface, missing the essential. the keys to understanding lie within the observer's own being and experience, and without these keys no door will open. This is particularly true of Islam, a religion which treats the distinction between belief and unbelief as the most fundamental of all possible distinctions, comparable on the physical level to that between the sighted and the blind. Believing and understanding complement and support one another. We do not seek for an adequate description of a landscape from a blind man, even if he has made a scientific study of its topography and has analyzed the nature of its rocks and vegetation. in Islam every aspect of human life, every thought and every action, is shaped and evaluated in the light of the basic article of faith. Remove this linchpin and the whole structure falls apart.

For the unbeliever this article of faith is meaningless and, in consequence, nothing else in the life of the Muslim makes sense. Even for the faithful Christian the 'sublime' and the 'mundane' relate to different dimensions, and he is disturbed by any confusion between the two. Islam does not recognize this division. For the Muslim, his worship and his manner of dealing with his bodily functions, his search for holiness and his bartering in the market, his work and his play are elements in an indivisible whole which, like creation itself, admits of no fissures. a single key unlocks the single door opening on to the integrated and tight-knit world of the Muslim.

That key is the affirmation of the divine Unity, and of all that follows from this affirmation, down to its most remote echoes on the very periphery of existence, where existence touches on nothingness. Islam is the religion of all or nothing, faith in a Reality which allows nothing to have independent reality outside its orbit; for if there were such a thing, however distant, however hidden, it would impugn the perfection and the totality of that which alone is.

It follows that one cannot speak of Islam without adopting a specific point of view and making that point of view quite explicit. This book is written by a European who became Muslim many years ago, through intellectual conviction and within the framework of a belief in the transcendent unity of all the revealed religions. the word 'convert' implies the . . .

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