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Quality Life of Islam

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In a series of verses in Chapter 7 culminating in Verse 96, the Quran states the necessary and sufficient conditions for the implementation of its concept of development. To do so, it recalls examples of failed societies, focusing on five communities identified by their messengers: Noah, Hud, Salih, Lot, and Shoáyb (59–93:7). In each case, the Quran explains how after each messenger called his people to their Cherisher Lord, admonishing them to comply with His Prescribed Rules and to desist from oppression and transgression, and from economic, social, and political exploitation, the majority of the people rejected their respective prophet repeatedly.

These examples appear to have been selected to demonstrate how a society’s failure to comply with prescribed rules brings about its own destruction. In each case the perseverance of the messengers in urging rule-compliance—such as treating other humans with fairness, justice, and dignity; not oppressing the weak among them; being faithful to their promises and contracts; avoiding opulence and behavior contrary to human dignity and purpose, and not discriminating against other humans for whatever reason—was met with a severe rejection of the message. Each of these societies was repeatedly tested and warned. However, instead of learning from these experiences and turning to their Creator, the people rejected the source and purpose of these tests and asserted that the ensuing punishments were usual events much like those their fathers and forefathers had also experienced. These verses then culminate in Verse 96: “If the people of these communities had [dynamically and actively] believed and had taqwa [were fully conscious and aware of Allah] We would have opened for them Barakat [blessings] from the heavens and the earth.” This verse contains the essence of the Metaframework’s concept of development and growth as well as the necessary and sufficient conditions for achieving every dimension of development or development in Islam.

Heretofore, it has been necessary to preface the translation of the word iman as “belief” with modifiers: dynamic and active. The reason is that the word “belief” in its natural linguistic-cultural setting conveys notions that do not accurately reflect the meaning of iman in the Quranic sense. For one thing, the word “belief” conveys a sense of static, rigid, passive, dogmatic, self-righteous, and unapproachable. In its Quranic setting, iman is a dynamic process; a process of movement from one level of “belief” to another. Each plateau represents an experiential inner set of expectations or intending and feedback loops in response to external stimuli generated by the processes of submersion into the crucible of testing, trials, and tribulations. Each plateau signals a higher consciousness and awareness of the “self” and her Creator. An upward movement from one plateau to the next is facilitated by the correct response to external stimuli through rule-compliance, which gradually strengthens through the qualitative evolution of expectations and intending. This last term, intending—the verbal noun of intention—is selected to represent the concept of niyyah, which is, again, a dynamic concept representing the directed will of the self. It expresses the changing quality of iman, its strength, and the lessons the self has learned from her experience in the crucible of testing.

Every “intending” of the will has consequences. In a famous saying the Prophet asserts, “Actions [and their consequences] depend on the intending [that generates them].” Intending expresses the degree of self-development, an experiential and existential manifestation of progress toward the full realization of the Creator. Each upward movement of the self represents a new state of awareness and is also a dynamic reorientation of the inner expectations of the self from herself and from her Cherisher Lord. Each reorientation of inner expectation leads to a qualitative transformation of intending. In the dynamic process of reorientation and the qualitative transformation of intending, there is a feedback process involving the relationship.

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