Why All Muslims Should Know the Islamic Worldview

A worldview is a comprehensive view of the world we live in and interact with. The view is not physical, but philosophical. It encompasses all animate and inanimate, physical and metaphysical realities.

A worldview, furthermore, is about seeking, comprehending, embracing and living the truth. The world exists because of, and for, the truth. The truth, therefore, is embodied and manifested in the world, as much in the simplest and smallest as in the grandest and most sophisticated.

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A person’s worldview represents his most fundamental beliefs and assumptions about the universe he inhabits. It reflects how he would answer all the “big questions” of human existence: fundamental questions about who and what we are, where we came from, why we’re here, where we’re headed, the meaning and purpose of life, the nature of the afterlife, and what counts as a good life here and now (James Anderson).

As the existential center of gravity, man more than any other being personifies, demonstrates and, at the same time, hankers for the truth. Hence, a worldview – both as an intellectual inquiry and a pursuit of spiritual certitude – signifies a circumcentre of an ontological triangle, so to speak, whose intersection is formed by the perpendicular bisectors originating from three vertices that represent the world, man and the truth.

The Islamic Worldview: Definition and Main Characteristics

It follows that the Islamic worldview is a philosophical view of the world rooted in the Islamic vision of life and reality. It is a fundamental cognitive orientation that provides a comprehensive Islamic framework of concepts and outlooks as regards: the Oneness of Almighty Allah (tawhid) and His relationship with the world (Creator-creation relationship), man as the vicegerent on earth (khalifah), nature, universe, life as the most consequential form of trust (amanah), death, hereafter, prophethood, angels, faith, destiny, epistemology and aesthetics. As such, it is a template, or a mold, where thought and action are cast.

The primary source of the Islamic worldview is the revelation. Harmoniously with reason, it lays down and affects each and every one of its aspects.

Man and his intellectual capabilities alone are insufficient for ascertaining and establishing the truth and its worldview, notwithstanding their remarkable capacities.

At any point of the journey, man and his relative judgmental prowess and wisdom are bound to show their true colors and fall short of fulfilling the task.

Man and his innermost cerebral strengths along with psychological and emotional alcoves signify but a tiny part of the world. As a concept and physical reality, the world by far outlives, overextends, outstrips and outdistances the realm of man and everything he is able to offer.

In other words, man cannot be the sole source of the truth and its worldview because the truth and the world are larger and more consequential than him.

Read: A Happy Ending is All That Matters

Similarly, man is their target and raison d’etre. He stands at the receiving end of the processes of revealing the truth and instituting as well as authenticating its worldview.

Being part of the world, giving to and taking from it, and being forever trapped in the dynamics of its vicissitudes, man will never be in a position to fully “view” and comprehend the world. The integrity of his insights will always be questioned and doubted. Epistemological authority and credibility will not be his forte. Man’s shortcomings and outright flaws are positively reflected in his worldviews. They are conceived and patterned in his own image.

The only source of the true and authentic worldview is the Creator, Master and Sustainer of the world and man. He conceived and created them, and constantly supports them in accordance with His absolute Will and Plan. It is on account of this that Almighty Allah’s revelations to mankind are sometimes called huda, which means the Guidance and Direction, and furqan, which means the Criterion for distinguishing between good and bad, and between the truth and falsehood.

Read: Can There Be a Doubt About God?

It is only when man is properly guided, directed, enlightened and enabled to see and comprehend, that he will be able to fully and sincerely surrender to his Creator and worship Him. To worship Almighty Allah in all his deeds, words and thoughts – that is, to live life according to the Will and Design of the Creator of life, rather than according to the wills, methods and standards of the creation — is what man has been created for.

That connotes the pinnacle of man’s productive terrestrial existence whose commencement and foundation are an inclusive system of thought, ideas, beliefs and attitudes. Indeed, the greatest cultural and civilizational achievements of man start with appropriate ideas and “views” of the world.

Since man is an inquisitive being, and is a traveler, yet stranger, in this world, forming a worldview will always be high on his existential agenda. Such is done consciously or otherwise. Man is created to explore and know. Correspondingly, people are what they think, know and believe.

One thing is certain, every human being has and cherishes a worldview. That is so inasmuch as people act based on thinking, thus setting themselves apart from animals, which act on instinct. To have a worldview and act accordingly is to be a human.

To live without a worldview, and not to care, is an anomaly and denotes the lack of one’s humanness. Hence, there are many worldviews worldwide: individual and collective, fractional and wide-ranging, muddled and systematic. They stand for the foundations of all religions, ideologies and structured life systems.

Like spectacles with colored lenses, worldviews affect what people see and how they see it. Depending on the “color” of the lenses, some things may be seen more easily, or conversely, they may be de-emphasized or distorted — indeed, some things may not be seen at all (James Anderson).

Nonetheless, as Almighty Allah is One, the truth, too, is only one. There can be no two or more, nor partial truths. By extension, there is only one true and authentic worldview. That is the worldview that originates from the only extant, real and authentic revelation: the Holy Quran, and that personifies and promotes in all of its segments the ultimate truth.

That worldview is the Islamic worldview. Suggesting the source and strength of its legitimacy and purpose, it is sometimes called the Quranic worldview. The Islamic worldview is so important for the Muslims that to Prof. Dr. AbdulHamid AbuSulayman, it exemplifies a springboard for a Muslim cultural reform.

The rebirth of the Islamic identity through the Quranic worldview is the prerequisite for any future healthy and viable development of the Muslim world. No Muslim predicament or crisis will be adequately dealt with unless the Muslims develop a worldview that will provide a genuine sense of meaning, purpose and motivation for constructive action and reform (AbdulHamid AbuSulayman).

The goal of the Islamic worldview is to liberate man from the spiritual and psychological fetters of this fleeting world, and to elevate him to the higher planes of existence where higher orders of things, meaning, purpose and experiences reign.

Read the full paper here.

About Dr. Spahic Omer
Dr. Spahic Omer, an award-winning author, is an Associate Professor at the Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). He studied in Bosnia, Egypt and Malaysia. In the year 2000, he obtained his PhD from the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur in the field of Islamic history and civilization. His research interests cover Islamic history, culture and civilization, as well as the history and theory of Islamic built environment. He can be reached at: [email protected].