Identity through Science, Philosophy and Artistic Concepts in the Qur'an
by Dr Shams un Nahar

The Quran presents a basis for theological discussions and offers a way of life for its followers. The Quranic narration on the identity of human life starts at the embryonic stage and continues through different phases of physical, social, philosophical and spiritual maturity.

Although Prophet Muhammad used Arabic to convey his message, the author believes that the Quranic philosophies relate not only to Arabs but also to other communities of the world.

This book is an attempt to understand and interpret human identity through revelations found in the Quran. The Quran’s aim is to encourage a person to reach philosophical and spiritual maturity and its revelations are addressed to a human mind that is assumed to be sensible and moderate. However, since the Quran was revealed fourteen hundred years ago, some might consider time to be a barrier to interpreting its meanings today. Critics may ask whether it is possible to assess and identify from the Quranic era human attributes that apply to all ages of mankind. The author hopes to address this issue in this book.

The main issue in establishing human identity according to the prevailing wisdom is to develop a sense of self in an individual specifying ‘who’ or ‘what’ that person is. Although time is forever changing and moving forward it also acts as a tool for assessing human life. For example, within the lifetime of a man or a woman the culture and knowledge of that contemporaneous age, which are constantly changing with time will be the defining feature of that person. In other words, as Fritj of Capra quoted from the I Ching, ‘The old is discarded and the new is introduced’. Therefore, the frontiers of human knowledge and understanding are constantly

changing and advancing with time, connecting the past with the future through the present.
Time has been regarded in the Quran as the unit needed to understand mankind and the knowledge we have acquired. In the chapter ‘Dahr’ or ‘Time’ or ‘Man’ in the Quran we find the verse ‘it is We Who have sent down the Quran to thee by stages’ (76.23). This implies that the revelations came as a gradual process over the twenty-three years after Muhammad became Prophet up until his death. Human life and knowledge might have been different in many ways from ours in sixth- and seventh-century Arabia, but many questions of behaviour, philosophy and spirituality addressed in the Quran are still relevant today. In other words, although the Quranic revelations came in an age that was historically different from the twenty-first century, in reality people who lived in that period experienced the same upheavals in life as we do today.

The objective of this book is to trace the relevance of modern life and knowledge through the Quran. Life even in this modern age is recognized as a transient and not a permanent phase. It has been proved through modern science that the human being is one of the few living creatures that is readily adaptable to changes arising from climatic, environmental and extreme political circumstances. Bearing this in mind, a review of the scientific, philosophical and artistic notions in the Quran will determine whether they can be interpreted in a contemporary way and so be relevant to readers today. Since the Quran is represented as the Book that shows the way of life amongst the faithful, it is assumed that the aspects of life that we value are present in the Quran in a timeless manner. In today’s society, especially in the Western world, it is becoming increasingly difficult to survive without scientific knowledge. Our lives are dependent upon science in many ways because it not only helps with our daily existence but also advances our standard of living. However, although science improves our lifestyle through materialistic advances, it does not or cannot shape our identity unless we decide the way we use such tools. At the end of the day society perhaps needs to lean on something other than just science-based worldly advances to survive. Philosophy, which is a study of the basic truth and principles of life and morals, can be taken as a guide to understand human behaviour. The philosophical approach to truth and life is not a modern idea and has been practised since time immemorial.

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