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Philosophic Conceptualities of the Self in Messianism / Mahdism

Philosophic Conceptualities of the Self in Messianism / Mahdism


How beautiful are the feet of the herald on the mountains, announcing peace, heralding good tidings, announcing salvation, saying to Zion, “Your God has manifested His kingdom.”

(Isaiah 52:7)

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

(Daniel 7:13-14)

But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?

And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

(Mark 14:61-62)

Seek first the Kingdom of God, and its righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)

He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.

(Philippians 3:21)

Unto thy Lord is the recourse that day…. Stir not thy tongue herewith to hasten it.

(Qur’an 75.12, 16)

Those who believe (in the Qur'an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,--any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

(Qur’an 2.62)

By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, surely the son of Mary will soon descend amongst you and will judge mankind justly…

(Bukhari, 4. 60, 3448)

[The Mahdi] will fill the earth will equity and justice as it was filled with oppression and tyranny. (Sunan Abu Dawud, 36.4272).

Philosophy and faith are not incompatible.[2] Indeed, whenever faith in divine revelation of the One God reflects upon anything in the world, this reflection constitutes what is commonly called “philosophy of religion.” Philosophy of religion does its best work not so much in attempting rational proofs of revelation, but of explicating the truths of divine and human action as conveyed by revelation.

When philosophy concerns itself with revelation, it invariably constructs models of agency and ethical action distinguishing between that which belongs to the Divine and that which belongs to the human. The models present distinctions of similarity, as in acts of mercy; and of difference, as in acts of creation. Both types of action are ethical in nature, that is, they are oriented to bringing about some good result. But the human being can achieve agency only in acts of mercy not in acts of creation, i.e., only where there is a created similarity and never at the point of difference between the divine and the human.

As is clear from revelation, the human being performs no real act of creation since it is beyond the creature’s capacity to bring anything into existence. Although it is common to speak of “human creativity” this type of action is always merely a refashioning of an already created substance or form. Indeed, the mark of Abrahamic tradition regarding the being of God and the being of the human is the singularly fundamental distinction between Creator and creature. Creative action is a unique category of divine agency and can only be passively witnessed to or received as a gift by creaturely, human agents.

When considering any agential act, it is also necessary to recognize its personal, individual origin. Although it is common to think in terms of collective action in terms of contractual agreements and concerted efforts of groups from pairs to entire populations, the agency of the individual never disappears from human events. Indeed, at the legal level, and above all the moral level, it is revelation and reason unambiguously point to personal agency in all actions and events in creation.

As the human being achieves full consciousness and conscientious awareness in relation to others, the self fully emerges as a sense of personal identity and accountability. The self and the sense of self in identity and accountability are not so important in terms of the errors to which it is prone, but in terms of the good of which it is capable. This is a crucial point when considering human ethical action at the point of similarity with Divine action. While the fundamental distinction between divine and human action is never erased, nor could it be, these two agencies disclose their similarity not only at the point of good outcomes, but even more at the point of their personal natures. The uncreated Self that alone belongs to God has a created correspondence in the created self of the individual human being. Human self-hood and ethical agency are creaturely reflections of the divine Self as eternal Agent – the Ever-living: creating and ever merciful toward the creation. When considering any aspect of divine creativity, whether in originating creation or in bringing to consummation, there is always a dimension of human reflection in terms of self identity and agency in relation to God. Any consideration of the full effects of revelation upon faith, indeed, creating faith, must keep the relation of Creator and human creatures in view.

True to the primal meaning of “islam” as the original religion of revelation and personal relationship with God the Creator, faithful philosophy is the understanding and action elicited from such faith. While it is understood that this islam unfortunately retreated into the background of human memory or was even forgotten by many polytheistic civilizations, revelation of the One God was extended through the Abrahamic heritage of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The extension of revelation through the prophets particularly with Abraham throughout the three faiths, always focus upon the ultimate work of God to rescue creation from its ultimate decline and destruction through resurrection and new creation. This is the salvific or soteriological dimension of the revelation culminating in events of the appearing of the Messiah for all believers out of all nations and, according to Islam, inaugurated by the preparatory arrival of the Mahdi, gathering all Muslims to readiness for the appearing of Messiah.[3] All of this comes about exclusively on account of divine intervention, superseding all human action other than response to the call of God to be gathered. However, the ethics of faith rest largely upon the Messianic promise of salvation. The ethics of faith are the humanistic implications of Messianism / Madhism (M/M). M/M humanism emerges as a great religious philosophical project for aiding the faithful in determining the relationship between the knowledge of divine action or agency and that of human action or agency. It becomes essential to develop a philosophical account in making these determinations for the sake of the realities of human contexts and of their transformation through ultimate divine intervention. The Abrahamic faiths present two models of human agency: ethical and eschatological, the former active and constructive, the latter quite passive and receptive. We move now to the discussion of these two modes.

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