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Requirements of the New Islamic Civilization

Scientific Webinar on: Requirements of the New Islamic Civilization

Lecturer: Dr. Mohsen Alviri

Full Professor of the Faculty of History and Political Studies
Baqir al-Olum Universiy

Click To watch the full session

The webinar on “Requirements of the New Islamic Civilization” with a speech by Dr. Mohsen Alviri was held. 

According to the public relations department of Baqir al-Olum University, in this webinar which was organized by the International Affairs and Non-Iranian Students department of Baqir al-Olum University in cooperation with Islamic Culture and Communication Organization, Dr. Mohsen Alviri gave a lecture with regard to “Requirements of the New Islamic Civilization” in English.

At the end, some questions were raised by the participants and Dr. Mohsen Alviri answered them.

You can study the full text of the lecture in the following:

At the beginning of my speech, I, in turn, greet all my dear friends and professors who are present at this virtual meeting, and I sincerely thank the friends who made this meeting possible.

I am going to take a few minutes to discuss the requirements of the new Islamic civilization, and thank you in advance for accompanying me.

As a brief introduction, I will say that the apperiance of a large and widespread reform movement among Muslims in the last two centuries is something that no one can deny it. This reform movement, with all its diversity and multiplicity, and with all the differences and sometimes even conflicts within it, has a lot in common:

• a. Inclusiveness – These reform movements, both at the level of thought and at the level of practice, can be seen in all the borders of the Islamic world from east to west and from north to south. From prominent figures such as Seyyed Jamal al-Din al-Assadabadi and Muhammad Abduh in the western part of the Islamic world, Abu al-A’la Maududi and Iqbal Lahori in the eastern part of the world, and Shariati and Imam Khomeini in the middle of the Islamic world. Even in In Central Asia, which sought to be kept separate from the Muslim world by the policies of the former Soviet Union, individuals and movements emerged in the last century that could be considered as religious reformers

Characters such as Abdolnasser Korsavi (1813), one of the modern Tatar scholars and the initiator of the new movement, and Shahabuddin Marjani (1889), theologian and Tatar historian, Aroujan Aroudi, a religious-social figure, and one of the prominent new writers and figures, Atta Allah Bayezitov, eminent theologian, social figure and enlightener, Musa Jarallah Begiyev, theologian and reformer and social figure, and Reza Din Fakhreddinov (1936) Famous religious and social figure of Tatar and Damla Hinduistani, the great Hanafi theologian and Mohammad Ali Ajami, poet in Tajikistan. And Mahmoud Khajeh Behboodi (1975) Enlightenment, press, socio-political figure and theorist of the neo-modernist movement in Turkestan One of the few sheikhs of Uzbekistan, Aladdin Dumla Nadirkhan (1975), one of the founders of the Central Asian and Kazakhstan Muslim Religious Office and the author of the first fatwa of this office

• b. Reaction to Western Civilization – All these reform movements are based on the analysis that the Islamic world is  considered lagged compared to the dominant Western civilization, and that a way out of this backwardness must be found

•  c. Attention to and relying on Islamic teachings – All these Islamic movements are based on the belief in Islam and the Qur’anic teachings and its effect on overcoming the situation of backwardness. Of course, it should be noted that not all religious reformers have the same view on religious texts and the extent to which they are used, but all or most of them make an important contribution to the Qur’an and hadiths to solve the problems of Islamic societies.

These commonalities allow us to put these reform movements under a broad umbrella and talk about some common problems and solutions between them all. One of the general issues of the Islamic world at present, which is closely related to the reform movements, is a question called the new Islamic civilization.

Instead of talking about the theoretical issues related to the definition of new Islamic civilization, let me take a practical look at what I mean by new Islamic civilization: the future and long-term achievement of the reform movements of the last two centuries in the Islamic world and the future vision of the movements which has begun in the last one or two centuries and is facing and waiting for the Islamic Ummah. Achievements and visions that, despite the multiplicity of ideas, goals, lands and interests in the Islamic world, promise a much better future for all Muslims.

Based on this view, if we consider reform movements as the first stages of the new Islamic civilization, we should no longer talk about the possibility of a new Islamic civilization,_ Because this civilization was born, although it is still very young_  but about how it should be, its do’s and don’ts, its opportunities and threats, and its problems and solutions; as the subject of this webinar, instead of talking about the possibility of a new Islamic civilization, we should talk about its necessities and requirements.

There is a lot of talk about the dimensions, aspects,  layers, stages and types of requirements of the new Islamic civilization, and I do not want to talk about all of them or even provide a classification of them, but I am eager to talk to you a little about one of them.

One of the most important shortcomings and challenges in the Islamic world that play an effective role in the process of new Islamic civilization is the lack of awareness between members of the Islamic Ummah toward each other, lack of knowledge and lack of understanding between those who all want the past glory of Islamic Ummah retun again. If this is one of the biggest challenges, then one of the most urgent and important requirements of the new Islamic civilization is to try to increase the awareness between members of the Islamic Ummah toward each other.

Civilization is a collective movement and can be said to be at the top of human social activities. So questions like who wants to create a new Islamic civilization? How do they look at each other? And basically, how much do they know about each other? Although it may be a series of preliminary questions, they are in fact fundamental questions.

Perhaps verse 13 of Surah Al-Hujurat also refers to this issue. This verse says that human beings, both men and women, are different and numerous groups, and God has placed them in such a way that the phenomenon of knowing each other occurs

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ وَأُنْثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا  إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ (حجرات، 13)

O mankind! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female, and made you nations and tribes that you may identify yourselves with one another. Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most Godwary among you. Indeed Allah is all-knowing, all-aware

Human relationships have different levels and layers, but the fact that this verse relies on knowing each other instead of referring to things like cooperation, shows that knowing each other has a fundamental role for other types of human relationships. All types of human beings relationships are based on basic awareness between humans toward each other.

Mutual knowledge of human beings, Mutual awareness toward each other has its own classification of issues and questions and under this heading, we can talk about topics such as Context of awareness, dimensions of awareness, approaches of awareness, goals of awareness, process of awareness and finally tools for awareness.

My discussion is about the tools and ways of social awareness, and in this field, I rely on only one tool, namely dialogue. Among the various tools we now have thanks to new communication technologies, dialogue has a very high position. Dialogue means sincerely trying to understand the other and to introduce yourself to the others. make yourself understood for the others.

Dialogue has characteristics that I think because of those characteristics can be considered as the most efficient way to know each other in a civilized space and in accordance with the needs of a civilization

These are the most important features:

1. Dialogue is the longest-lived and oldest and most common means of human communication. dialogue, meaning conversation, can be considered the broadest and most basic form of human communication. The premise of many communication theories and models is conversation, and perhaps for this reason, according to official statistics, the volume of analysis and research on the nature and dimensions of dialogue since the 1960s.  has been growing ever since.

2. The main purpose of dialogue is to understand what the other person is saying and to transfer what you mean to the others in order to reach a certain result. Perhaps accordingly, dialogue as a strategy or method in the contemporary decades with the explanation given by Jürgen Habermas (1929-living) under the theory of communicative action and in the context of the social order,found a high position as the most important tool for understanding and exchange.

3. The dialogue is based on a continuous action and reaction between the parties. This meaning is the same as it is beautifully hidden in the Arabic word Hewar, in which the necessity of going back and forth (Muraddah) is emphasized.  (Al-Ragheb Al-Isfahani, the entry of h – w – r). In this view, dialogue means that as much as I have the right to speak for the other person, he has the right; as much as my words are worth listening to, his words are worth hearing, just as I believe that My words are based on logic, he also has the right to consider his words as true and based on logic. As I expect him to listen to me without prejudice and fairness, so I have a duty to listen to him without prejudice and fairness. Just as he may not understand my words, so I may not understand his words, just as I may not be able to understand him, he may not have understood my words.

4. Dialogue is not a mechanical tool but a human action and process, and therefore all human capacities from argument to emotion can be used to make it effective.

5. Dialogue based on the needs of both parties can be very flexible in terms of the conditions of the dialogue, the number of people involved in the dialogue, duration, dialogue axes and how to present views, in other words, its manageability is very high in different situations

6. Dialogue can, in addition to the verbal mode and exchange of words, go beyond the usual formats and be followed in the form of scientific excursions and display of artistic achievements and publishing books and holding virtual museums and other activities appropriate to different countries and on different topics with emphasis on common cultural heritage.

In a general phrase, it can be said that although the dialogue itself should be based on an initial knowledge of the parties, but the most important achievement of the dialogue is also to increase the knowledge of the parties toward each other, in other words, two or more people who have a basic knowledge of each other, if  they seek to work together on a civilized scale, the best, most urgent, most effective, most instructive, least costly and most profitable way for them is to talk to each other and to have dialogue.

Dialogue  in this meaning helps us in the sense that “I” from the my point of view and “I” from the other’s point of view; and also “The other” in my view and “The others” in their point of view would be explained well.

In religious texts, especially  in our Holy Book, the Qur’an, dialogue is also considered very important, and its study should be left to another opportunity.

Based on what has been said about the concept and importance of dialogue, now we can say that one of the requirements of the new Islamic civilization is that we must have dialogue, because we must accept that we are not the only ones who understand the real problems of the Islamic world, and we are not the only ones who offer solutions for the problems of the Islamic world, but different solutions have been offered by different people; and third, we can not expect our solution to be accepted by others. In such a situation, dialogue is the only way to offer suggestions and listen to all of them and choose the best one or a combination of two or more of them. Intolerance of those who disagree with us and turning away from those who differ slightly from us in thought or behavior is incompatible with the ethics of civilization.

Scholars and elites must think, they must understand the sensitivity of the situation, they must not forget their responsibility, and given the very difficult and critical situation we are in, they must open the doors to dialogue and try to overcome and fix its obstacles. They can establish a more effective communication network than the formal political relations of the foreign ministries.

A very important point that I would like to emphasize is that there is no need to wait for governments to provide the ground and the possibility of dialogue, on the contrary, in some issues like civilizational dialogues, the interference of the governments should be prevented, of course, while respecting the national interests of each parties.

The Central Asian region, despite its brilliant role in the previous Islamic civilization, has not yet found its rightful place in the process of new Islamic Civilization, and dialogue can help this region reach its worthy civilizational position.

Let me end my speech by reciting a part of verse 46 of Surah Saba. This verse calls us to not rely on existing organizations and structures and to rise to do our individual and social duty.

قُلْ إِنَّمَا أَعِظُکُمْ بِوَاحِدَةٍ أَنْ تَقُومُوا لِلَّهِ مَثْنَى وَفُرَادَى…

Say, ‘I give you just a single advice: that you rise up for Allah’s sake, in pairs or singly

In this verse, God teaches Her Prophet to say, “I advise you of one thing, and that is to stand up for God and do your duties by only yourselves or together in pairs.”