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The System of Nature

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Human history pre-dates the advent of Islam by about twenty five thousand years. During this long period man made little progress in knowledge and science. True scientific progress was made only when Islam broke with the ancient system of royal absolutism, thus heralding the age of intellectual freedom.

 

It is a well-known fact that while intellectual progress is best made through the exchange of views, the system of determinism stalls this process altogether. This has been very well expressed by an American writer: ‘When all think alike, no one thinks very much.’

 

The fact is that the world of realities is unbounded in scope. But the mind of a single individual—particularly in isolation—has its limitations. It is only in a situation where there can be a frank exchange of views and free interaction without any official repression, that people can learn from one another and there can be a widespread increase in knowledge. Conversely, in an environment where people’s thinking is confined to a single constricted sphere, general knowledge will remain limited.

 

When people have full freedom to think and speak, differences of opinion will inevitably result. Each will criticize the other’s viewpoint. This process of criticism is an essential part of intellectual development. In this world the choice for us is not between uncritical acceptance. It is rather between criticism and mental stagnation. If curbs are placed on criticism, what results in reality is mental stagnation rather than a state of uncomplaining acceptance.

 

Where intellectual freedom contributes to the system of nature, intellectual constraints are an impediment.





Maulana Wahiduddin Khan


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