Futures studies in contemporary Islamic and Western thought: a critical study of the works of Ziauddin Sardar, Mahdi Elmandjra, Alvin Toffler and Daniel Bell
Author(s)Wan Zakaria, Wan Fariza Alyati Binti
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AbstractFutures Studies, or the study of future, is a post-Enlightenment new field of inquiry in Western history of intellectual tradition. It attempts to study the probable, possible and desirable futures for human. Nevertheless, the study and concern on future is not a unique Western phenomenon. Indeed, every society and civilization has its own version of “futures studies”, as found in astrology, numerology, palm reading and so on and so forth. Islam - as the religion of fitrah (primordial nature) - regards future within an eternal conception of time – the dunyā and the akhīrah. With the influence of Western analysis on future, this research attempts at firstly recognizing the notion of future in both Islam and Western traditions. In so doing, we chose two Muslim scholars, Ziauddin Sardar and Mahdi Elmandjra, who are both prominent in the study of future, and also two Western scholars, Alvin Toffler and Daniel Bell as representatives of Western tradition in studying future. Secondly, this research traces the development of futures thinking in both Western and Islamic context and argues that futures thinking, indeed Futures Studies, has become a significant mode of thinking in Western society within its reception of modernity, and now postmodernity. The development of Futures Studies and futures thinking on their Muslim counterpart shows similar interest, though with much slower pace. Our analysis therefore focuses on the thematical aspects of the scholars’ thoughts and compares the divergences between both Muslim and Western views on future, as well as their resemblances. We then conclude that the significance of futures thinking and Futures Studies should be urgently recognized by the Muslims in order to resolve their present condition in which they become part of the contributing factor. This, as we argue and believe, should be realized through an ijtihādic struggle – to be ready to criticize oneself, and recognize one’s weaknesses and mistakes in understanding and practicing one’s own religion and then to set forward the best resolution to be implemented for a desirable future. Only through this process of self-criticism and self-awareness that we can contemplate a self-renewal process for ourselves, and most importantly, for the Muslim society and its civilization in the future.
Wan Zakaria, Wan Fariza Alyati Binti (2010) Futures studies in contemporary Islamic and Western thought: a critical study of the works of Ziauddin Sardar, Mahdi Elmandjra, Alvin Toffler and Daniel Bell. Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.