Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The concept of Islam Hadhari is not new

Islam Hadhari, introduced by Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi as an approach that emphasises development, consistent with the tenets of Islam and which focused on enhancing the quality of life, is not something new.

A similar approach was introduced some 600 years ago by Wali al-Din Abdal Rahman bin Mohamad bin Abi Bakar Mohamad bin al-Hassan or better known as Ibn Khaldun, one of the most prominent figures of Arab-Muslim culture.

Ibn Khaldun, universally recognised as the founder and father of Sociology and Sciences of History, wrote about it in his most famous work "Muqaddimah" or "Prolegomena".

Here in Malaysia, Abdullah said his concept aims to achieve its targets via the mastery of knowledge and the development of the individual and the nation; the implementation of a dynamic economic, trading and financial system; an integrated and balanced development that creates a knowledgeable and pious people who hold to noble values and are honest, trustworthy, and prepared to take on global challenges.

Ibn Khaldun's unique approach and original contribution, which became a masterpiece in literature on philosophy of history and sociology, was aimed at identifying psychological, economic, environmental and social facts that contribute to the advancement of human civilization and the currents of history. In this context, he analysed the dynamics of group relationships and showed how group-feelings, al-Asabiya, give rise to the ascent of a new civilization and political power and how, later on, its diffusion into a more general civilization invites the advent of a still new "Asabiya in its pristine form. He identified an almost rhythmic repetition of rise and fall in human civilization, and analysed factors contributing to it.

Unlike most earlier writers interpreting history largely in a political context, Ibn Khaldun's emphasised environmental, sociological, psychological and ecoomic factors governing the apparent events. All these were written 600 years ago by this great man born in Tunisia in 1332 C.E.

Ibn Khaldun's great contributions in history, philosophy of history, sociology, political science and education have remained dominant and significant ever since his life. His books have been translated into many languages, both in the East and the West, and have inspired other figures to develop these sciences and add to them.

Abdullah's principles of Islam Hadhari namely faith and piety in Allah; a just and trustworthy government; a free and independent people; mastery of knowlkedge; balanced and comprehensive economic development, a good quality of life; protection of the rights of minority groups and women; cultural and moral integrity; safeguarding the environment; and strong defences -- all if not most of them - were mentioned in Ibn Khaldun's "Muqaddimah".

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