Islam is not a religion in the conventional sense of the word. Rather, it is a complete way of life. It is a heavenly ontological design at the heart of which resides man in his capacity as the crown of God’s plan for creation, plus the acme of God’s creative willpower. This makes perfect sense because people have been created by the Almighty Creator, have been placed on His earth within His universe to carry out the honorable task of vicegerency instituted by none other than God, have been subjected to His physical (existential) laws (divine will), and because to Him, ultimately, everyone will return to be held accountable for his or her performances.
Islam and the Objectivity of the Truth
In other words, man came from God, lives because of Him and for Him, belongs to Him, and to Him, he returns – fulfilling thus both the human mission and destiny. The truth of Islam is the objective truth, transcending the vicissitudes of time and space and also the variables of man’s material and immaterial highs and lows. Man and the world are to be governed by the authority of that truth, not the other way around.
God is the Creator, man a creation; God is the Master, man a servant; God is the Sovereign Disposer of all things, man is the heritor of divine providence. It, therefore, appears reasonable that in the spheres of man’s moral, spiritual, and even intellectual developments, too, man should take counsel with the highest echelon. Indeed, under no circumstances should there come to pass an exchange of titles.
Man cannot follow the natural and physical laws of God, but reject His spiritual and moral laws. Man cannot be an obedient servant in matters of no choice, but whenever and wherever he has a chance – in matters of choice – he turns into a disobedient and big-headed wretch. As a wise man once said, a person can do such a thing only if he could be his own creator, his own provider, and his own sustainer. If he could control his own destiny, and if he could live on his or somebody else’s – other than God’s – earth.
What is more, man is a weak, disoriented, reckless, and evanescent creature endowed with little knowledge – irrespective of what the proponents of secular humanism would like us to believe. After thousands of years of existence, fenced off from the revealed knowledge and guidance, man is yet to answer the most fundamental questions pertaining to his own existence and to existence taken together, the most embarrassing of which, certainly, are those questions apropos of gender, marriage, family, and race. If man cannot answer the questions of who or what he is, how and why he is here on earth, what, as well as why, he is supposed to do, and why people are different, then by what means and through what medium or agency is he supposed to tackle the questions about the rest of the aspects of creation, the mind-bogglingly vast and complex universe, and the possibility of the existence of other dimensions?
All this after thousands of years of philosophizing, ideologizing, moralizing, and proselytizing – i.e., enlightening, acculturating, and civilizing - for which some of the greatest minds of homo sapiens have been frittered away. The meaning and purpose of life, happiness, bona fide progress, and contentment are ever more elusive - and the clock is ticking.
Postmodernism as an Unnecessary Evil
Here we are at the beginning of the 21st century when people are expected to be the most enlightened, most advanced, and most civilized, standing at the threshold of the end of history and the end-point of humanity's ideological and sociocultural evolution, however, the situation is anything but. Man has gone through so much ideological uncertainty and so many civilizational ups and downs that all that has now converged on himself and his real world, bearing down on his fragility. Life has been a roller-coaster of constructions and misconstructions and clashes of narratives, resulting in nothing more remarkable than post-modernism and its unbroken love affair with the curse of relativism: metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical. Does not man deserve more and better than cynicism and anarchism? Did not he since time immemorial yearn for something more exciting and more consequential?
At the end of everything – wittingly though - man came to know nothing for sure, neither about himself nor other animate and inanimate realities. Be that as it may, what man has been created for? to find, embrace, internalize, and live the truth, is neither known nor knowable. Life, too, as the most consequential, meaningful, and beautiful concept, as well as actual experience, has been downgraded and rendered one-dimensional, aimless, and vain. It is as if postmodernism has been delivered as an affliction, perhaps for all the religious subversions and misdoings of man in the past. It could yet be the biggest scourge of the (post)modern man and his evolutionary curve. It could be a doom, a “life sentence.”
Brian Duignan from Encyclopaedia Britannica said in his article “Postmodernism and Relativism”: “Postmodernists deny that there are aspects of reality that are objective; that there are statements about reality that are objectively true or false; that it is possible to have knowledge of such statements (objective knowledge); that it is possible for human beings to know some things with certainty; and that there are objective, or absolute, moral values. Reality, knowledge, and value are constructed by discourses; hence they can vary with them” (Brian Duignan, Postmodernism and Relativism).
Terry Eagleton also wrote in his book “The Illusions of Postmodernism”: “Postmodernity is a style of thought which is suspicious of classical notions of truth, reason, identity and objectivity, of the idea of universal progress or emancipation, of single frameworks, grand narratives or ultimate grounds of explanation. Against these Enlightenment norms, it sees the world as contingent, ungrounded, diverse, unstable, indeterminate, a set of disunified cultures or interpretations which breed a degree of scepticism about the objectivity of truth, history and norms, the givenness of natures and the coherence of identities” (Terry Eagleton, The Illusions of Postmodernism).
Postmodernism as the Nemesis of Authentic Goodness and Virtue
In short, postmodernism is associated with skepticism, distrust, contrariety, and philosophical critiques of the possibilities of absolute truths and objective realities. It yet turned against its precursor: modernism – despite the latter’s equally rebellious mood, nihilism, and total rejection of traditions and established religions, together with moral principles – for it was based on idealism and glorification of reason and science. As fresh and ground-breaking as those approaches had been, postmodernists felt that not even they could go unchallenged.
Postmodernism’s credo of anti-authoritarianism and anti-conventionalism in belief, thought, and style (practice) was on a collision path with modernism, which, after all, still believed in certain ultimate universal principles connected with its utopian vision of human life and society based on material science driven and reason guided progress. That is to say, modernism’s crime was its self-glorification and its perception of itself as an end in its own right – essentially ascertaining a form of truth – which was incompatible with postmodernism’s spirit of perennial doubt and non-truth. Individual experiences and interpretations of those experiences were favored over abstract and external doctrines, and inner individual voices were placed on a pedestal at the expense of the external and supposedly authoritative ones.
In any case, the idea and portents of postmodernism are anticlimactic, despondent, and a symptom of man’s existential failure of cosmic proportions. It is inconceivable that all the positivity and optimism of classical antiquity (the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 5th century AC), and all the (neo)optimism and (neo)excitement of the Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Scientific Revolution, have boiled down to celebrating postmodernist ignorance (the lack of objective knowledge) and uncertainty (the lack of objective truth), and have been cut down to the postmodernist abandonment of moral and intellectual responsibilities, constructive moral and intellectual progress, and any genuinely productive dialogues or debates.
In like manner, postmodernism celebrates and fosters anarchy, confusion, and lethargy, in that everyone who can think by definition is right and every society that agrees on something is also right; beliefs are merely personal and collective opinions; nobody can criticize or persuade anybody concerning anything; and there is no reference frame a person can measure himself and his views against because subjective and socio-cultural preferences are the only measuring sticks.
One then wonders how a person can be wrong, censured, tried, and imprisoned, given that whatever (s)he has done was his or her choice and preference (hence, (s)he was right), or how a society can be blamed for its collective choices and decisions; how, for example, to blame Hitler and Nazi Germany for their wrongdoings (their choices and their interpretations of right and wrong), or how to convince anybody today that Vladimir Putin and his regime are guilty of invading Ukraine when such happened on the basis of their collective opinions, preferences, and interpretations of historical as well as current actualities. Doing so would imply the imposition of objective truth, which, however, is unacceptable and so, is blasphemous.
Postmodernism as a Form of Paganism
Positively, postmodernism recognizes neither advising and advisers nor moralizing and moralizers. No values are honored and no sanctities revered. Out-and-out authorities (like parents, teachers, gurus, prophets, holy books, and supreme beings) simply do not exist. Values are terrestrial agreed-upon choices, and idols (gods) those personalities that play first fiddle in the processes of making those choices. Along these lines, celestial god(s) have been either humanized or converted into variables disqualified from the equation, and man with his inflated capacities and talents has been deified. Hence, instead of heavenly beings, gods for the postmodernist man are trailblazing scientists, artists, architects, writers, magnates, fashion designers, sportspersons, and entertainers, whose names and legacies are worshiped on the altars of myriads of temples of nihilism and hedonism worldwide.
All this should come as no surprise for the reason that postmodernism is intrinsically antireligious. Venerating the idols of humanism and also naturalism, postmodernism is effectively a mode of paganism. Which means that Europe in particular, having dispensed with Christianity as a vantage point in its cultural and civilizational crusades, has reverted to its pre-Christian heathen roots. But the postmodernist paganism is more powerful and more devastating than its Greco-Roman counterparts, yet forerunners. The former was fashioned in the aftermath of the Christian failure to carry through on its promises after it had been given a chance. The failure triggered a sense of disappointment, but also a new hope. The truth and the source of coveted ecstasy were no longer to be sought in some alien and detached realms, such as heaven, divinity, otherworldliness, providence, and mythology, but rather right here and right now, in man by man and for man alone.
Life is too short to be encumbered by moral and intellectual authorities, conventions, and any form and degree of coercion. Since there is no spirituality, nor accountability – while concurrently the limited time keeps gliding on (tempus fugit) - man’s best option is to believe in, think, and do whatever his heart desires. Denying him this asset of personal freedom would be the biggest crime against one’s self-determination and humanness. Life is to be lived without chains and enjoyed to the fullest. For this reason, postmodernism imposes no restriction whatsoever on people’s selections and tastes, endorsing conscious lawlessness to the detriment of involuntary order and unwanted uniformity. Justifications and standards, which profess to be binding for all parties and all contexts, are sacrilegious. One-size-fits-all attitudes are heresies.
When left alone, nonetheless, man is myopic. He cannot see beyond his own desires, needs, and interests. The big picture is too big for man to see and adhere to. For that reason was the beautiful side of man soon suppressed, and his primordial innocent nature, plus his pure reason, debilitated. That side of man is epitomized in the words of the Almighty God in the Qur’an to the effect that “He taught Adam (the father of mankind) the names of all things” (Quran 2:31), and that He has “honored the children of Adam…and preferred them over much of what We have created, with (definite) preference” (Quran 17:70). Holding back this constructive side of man helped man, ergo, in unleashing his ugly and devastating sides. Those sides are epitomized in the words of the Qur’an to the effect that man can easily become a being inclined to making mischief on earth and shedding blood (Quran 2:30), and that man easily transgresses all bounds because he sees himself as self-sufficient (Quran 96:6-7). The latter clearly exemplifies the essence of modernism and postmodernism.
Postmodernism and an Immorality Culture
Hardly surprising therefore that nowadays when postmodernism is in full force, evils and immoralities generated by man’s self-centredness and avarice are all-pervading. There is no moral or intellectual authority that can anesthetize and bring the chaos under control. By way of illustration, global conflicts are endless and getting ever gruesome, promotion of LGBT is turning out to be the world’s most important agenda, environmental destruction is getting out of control, and gambling, drug and alcohol consumption, prostitution, adulterous behavior, distrust, unkindness, and untruthfulness, are coming to be universal behavioral norms.
Parenthetically, all religions, except Islam, have fallen victim to the aggressive assaults of postmodernism – and modernism beforehand. Islam is the only force still standing and fighting back, for which in the eyes of postmodernists it is a bane of existence. It is public enemy number one. Regardless, it is at once perplexing and scary that only Islam can rival the potencies of the conceptual and operational frameworks of postmodernism, which does not augur well for the future of human civilization. Islam, for instance, possesses systematic mechanisms to resolutely condemn and stand up to the emerging LGBT culture which is a sign of a global decency death, to fight the absence of absolute moral laws, to resist the invasion of epistemic relativism (the lack of objective and true knowledge), and to try to stop the exponential growth of atheism. Consequently, Islam’s refusal to yield and go away caused the global Islamophobia sentiments to be elevated to a whole new level. Islam is now seen as anti-freedom, anti-progress, and anti-humanity.
It is truly unfortunate that man who had commenced his laudable terrestrial mission by being taught “the names of all things”, has morphed into a “nameless” being; who had been created to know himself and others and, as such, to worship his Creator, has morphed (evolved) into an ignorant and confused being; and who had been created as the Creator’s vicegerent on earth to whom the contents of the heavens and the earth had been subjected, has become a miserable being completely blinded and dominated by his carnal desires.
After all – the Almighty God only knows - this age could literally be the end of history, and this man - several post-modernist generations - could be the last man. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) has warned that of the signs of the approaching of the Day of Judgment will be “taking away (authentic) knowledge and the spread of ignorance”, “lots of killing”, and the uncontainable spread of immorality (Sahih Muslim).