Monday 24th of February 2020

How to Improve the Clear Aspects of Culture

Although the simplest and most straightforward, the way to improve the clear aspects of culture is also in the most exclusive and essential one proposed by wise intellectuals. It is, however, the longest and most complicated, too.

The most direct, simplest, and still the longest and most complex way is for man to return to himself; today's man has fallen greatly astray from his own self.

Clear aspects, of culture interpreting and explaining all cultural effects and activities are like glasses with colored lenses, changing man's viewpoint of his life. These aspects of life can undoubtedly give no pure reflection of man's observable world, for reflected observable phenomena cannot be more effective than their real image; purely imagining beauty is never as influential as seeing real, visible beauty. The imagination is only intrigued when the viewer wants to possess the beauty, or paint a picture of a beautiful phenomenon.

Likewise, a mental image of freedom cannot be as intriguing as real freedom; it can only be effective when it proves its desirability to the imaginer.

Therefore, we must distinguish clear aspects of culture from pure imagination; in order to do so, we have to consider the fact that clear aspects have the activating effect reflections and imaginations are devoid of. Besides, reflections and imaginations identically reflect what exists in the visible world -like a mirror -but they ignore their relationships with each other or basic goals fundamental factors; the clear aspect, however, accounts for all observable facts along with their connections with logical ends.

Hence, all dimensions of life -pleasure, pain, knowledge, need, logic, imagination, morality, religious and ideological tendencies, artistic creativity, etc. are explained by the clear aspects of culture. If they are confined to facts formed by compulsory, thoughtless activities, they would in fact only be reflections acting on naturally- originated factors.

We may conclude that, in order to provide satisfactory answers to the “hows and whys” of life, the clear aspects of life should provide man's highest ideals in life. Thus, we can state that any culture unable to determine the highest aim of life, will also definitely fail to provide its ideals.

Without activating the constructive aspects of life, the highest aim of life would not be capable of being creative or dynamic. Any individual or society requires evolutionary goal-setting -whatever its cultural effects may be -in order to achieve an objective freedom which can ensure the survival of an original culture. In such cases, any cultural effect or activity would prove devoid of any saturation by idealism or providing a basis, like a heap of compulsory activities. Aimless works of art, despite being highly attractive and exquisite, can only motivate us momentarily, but they do not guide us after we are aroused. If we accept the necessity of objectivity in original cultures, the rigid traditionalism in some cultures would definitely turn into original, constructive ones.

Cultures move towards their goals just like souls do. In fact, the culture of a society depicts its soul, and all of its cultural activities and affects represent the attitude of its spirit.

Thus, the only way to create an original, objective culture is to enhance the emotions and thoughts of the members of the society, and make them so harmonious that each human being would freely be able to create his/her own desired culture.

As we have already mentioned, without elevated goals, it is impossible to achieve true freedom of character, otherwise the society would fall into “free” slovenly cultureless ness, which would shatter away when compared with other cultures. Now that we have realized the need for explaining and interpreting the highest reasons and goals of life, we should find an ideology capable of such interpretations vital for creating an original, objective culture.

Ever since earliest times, many ideologies have proposed various ideas on the highest aim of life; however, by studying them, we come to a universally agreed conclusion: “Any target is located higher than the one that is aiming at it.” Thus the aim of life must be much higher than the mortal phenomena and activities of everyday life in order to provide a satisfactory explanation for the whole fundamentals of life.

Tendencies to move towards higher goals will certainly prove incompatible with the rise or fall of some cultural effects and/or activities; furthermore, the cause-and-effect rule puts culture -the “effect” -into the right evolutionary course. Of course, there is great debate over what the great aim should be, and we do not tend to go into its complicated details.

With the exception of hedonists and nihilists, all schools of thought -as we have already mentioned -agree that “the target is always higher than one aiming at it.” Thus, no school of thought can present phenomenon or activities as the highest goal to make an original culture -or as Mowlana Jalaluddin calls them, the “shadows of life”:

“The pleasure of eating honey and milk arises from the soul, all pleasures arise from the identity of human soul.

Thus, the heart is the true essence, and the world but an effect, How can the shadow of one's soul become its cause?

The most valuable and greatest quality of objective culture seeking an objective life is its logical organization of cultural elements -the highest human ideal. Objectiveness leads to cultural organization, as having an aim for one's soul causes mental order and discipline.

It should not be so surprising to us that cultural elements suffer from so great disorder in most human societies today, for philosophers and intellectuals have also for some time claimed to be unable to determine the true aim of life. After all, when the human spirit is mutilated by economists, lawyers, psychologists, expert sociologists and greedy technologists, how can we expect a culture with logically organized elements?!

All in all, we are left with no choice but to first solve the puzzle of the aim of life, and then move on to organizing the fundamentals and rules of a culture. Culture- maker today are apparently obliged to consider the highest aim of life; otherwise, the way today's mechanical lifestyles and uncalculated civilizations are going on, they will undoubtedly face nihilism.


The Highest Aim of Life Makes Original, Objective Cultures

No aim can suitably explain a certain period of human life -his lifetime -including all regional and social, factors depending on historical knowledge and human capabilities without addressing these four questions: Who am I? Who am I with? Where am I going to? Why am I here?

By such questions, man undoubtedly intents to find out how he depends on his world. Now matter how his ideology may be, it is enough for man to have a world to be born in, get familiar with, develop a passion for, and finally die.

Without love to explain our relationships with the world we live in, there would never be any of the vast, fascinating cultures that have formed throughout history, nor any of the arts originating from man's far-reaching ambitions. Perfectionist, ambitious man, always reaching for higher positions -however highly accomplished his activities may be -can only be saturated by divine attractions -to which the only way of entrance is the human soul -unless, however, a cultural activity or effect is exaggerated and disguised so greatly that it would satisfy man's insatiable spirit. Such cultures would prove alive, colourless, sedimentary and self-orientated.

Considering our above discussions, we come to the conclusion that it is impossible to achieve a dynamic culture without religious and ideological factors caused by objective life.

By “ideological factors” we do not mean a heap of illogical, unverifiable beliefs, but man's spiritual awareness moving on the path of evolution towards divine attraction. As Iqbal Lahouri says:

What is religion? Rising from the earth, to achieve self- awareness of the soul

Along such a path, the world has been resembled to man's precious body, full of both cultural results and

activities to “decorate” the home. In fact, the precious “home” is the world inside the “self”, which will stay with us forever; it is not a place to stay for some time and then leave.


The Culture Established by Islam [13]


The culture established by Islam is an aimed life that strongly activates human aspects of aesthetism, desire for knowledge, logic, and idealism, and organizes all cultural elements. It does not isolate scientific culture from high human morals, does not separate artistic culture from the culture of economic guidance, and finally, considers the unity of culture as a dependant upon unity in human souls, thus preventing its destruction. The elements of Islamic culture -referred to as “culture of the mind”, “qualities”, “science”, “morals” (literally) and “the best form of all affairs” in major references -all belong to a high concept: wisdom and philosophy.

This wisdom includes any kind of activity able to enhance objective lifestyles for each individual or society. The first founder and promoter of this culture is God, who granted man the means to write, talent, power to express himself, taste, and the constant desire for seeking perfection and stable basics in the ever flowing stream of events.

As a result of this culture:

“Three centuries after the Holy Prophet (s) died the city of Qartaba. with a population of one million, had eighty academic schools and a library including 600,000 books:

Arabic had become the main language of science. During this era, knowledge resumed spreading around the world. Zachariah Razi (251-313 AH) did a thorough study on smallpox, and his colleague Abul-Qassem Khalaf bin-Abbas Zahravi (d 404 AH) did the same for brain and spinal bone diseases.

Avicenna (370-428 AH), named "the prince of science”, had upgraded medicine in the Islamic society to such an extent that when one of the kings of Castill caught smallpox, he asked his enemies in Qartaba for help.

Mohammad ibn-Jaber-ibn Senan Battani (d 317 AH} has brought much honour to his country through his famous works. A noble aristocrat, Battani had great respect for Ptolemy, although he himself exceeded Ptolemy in accurately studying the equinox calendar, and was the first to use the sinus instead of the hypotenuse, which led to today’s trigonometry. [14]

Literary culture as a whole -the voice of any cultural ideal -became such a mighty creative factor in Islamic societies that by presenting Jalaluddin Mowlavi and his like, it influenced all other constructive cultures around the world, and any literary school of thought today recognizes Mowlavi as one of its constituents.


However, other ordinary cultures do not enjoy such systematic establishment.

Let us take the statement “Literary and artistic modernity inhibits scientific advances” [15] into more careful consideration. By comparing it with the article “Scientific Bankruptcy Announced” [16], what may we conclude. ..?!

On the other hand, had the need for organizing and saturating all of man's psychic aspects been taken into

consideration while constructing and continuing cultural changes, certainly no advance in one cultural affect would inhibit the others; in other words, literary and artistic modernism would not prevent science from developing and inappropriate expectations of observation, experience, or ignorance towards ideological culture and scientific bankruptcy would never happen.

As we have already stated:

“The culture established by Islam is an aimed life that strongly activates human aspects of aesthetism, desire for knowledge, logic and idealism, and organizes all cultural elements”

Artistic constructions in Spain, India, Iran and Syria - about the highly exquisite qualities of which all scholars on art agree -depict how strongly Islam enhances aesthetic aspects.

The Koran has pointed out God-made beauty on seven occasions, for instance:

"We have adorned the lower heaven with the adornment of the stars.” [17]

"We have set in heaven constellations, adorned them out to beholders.” [18]

"Say: Who has forbidden the ornament of God which he brought forth for His servants, and the good things of his providing?” [19]

In the above verses, “ornament” and “adorning” refer to beauty, both in its general and special meanings. The first two verses show its special meaning, and the third refers generally to any attractive, useful phenomenon.

The plentiful Koranic verses encouraging thought had such a profound mental effect on Muslims that very soon Islam became the focal point of science and knowledge. During the dark Medieval era, when all countries were deprived of any knowledge, Muslims successfully kept the flame of science burning. Other cultural elements, such as moral ethics and idealism, also highly flourished. All of these organized advances were due to their being based on the original principle of the objectiveness of life. If the basis is destroyed, all effects arising in the name of culture will also be of compulsory origin, showing fake liveliness like a water-sprinkled flower cut from its stem. 

source : Pioneer Culture to the Rescue of Mankind - An Introduction to Islamic Culture by Allamah Muhammad Taqi Ja'fari
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