Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, December 4th, 2020

Living in a Transitional Period

When you talk with a child, you are supposed to talk with its own language. Speaking in broken phrases does not mean childish language. You have to talk according to their understanding, discover their world and walk in it and with it. For instance, science, philosophy, mathematics and religion have their own languages and terminologies. Scientific terminologies carry certain elements and concepts based on scientific theories. If one uses scientific terms such as germ, electron, proton, etc, anyone who knows nothing about their supporting theories, will not understand that scientific or educational discourse. Hence, when we step in the realms of religion or philosophy, we will face a particular discourse or world which includes certain realities and relations.
The same is the case with human societies. In the pre-modern or classic world, people used to talk in a certain language and terminology. While in the modern and perhaps post-modern world they use their own terminologies. One of the great phenomena which took place in human history, according to Max Weber, is “demystification”. I am not going to talk that whether our society has passed beyond the classic world, however the fact is that human societies had a pre-modern age called the “classic” age which is replaced today by the “modern age”.
Modernity was a spontaneous product in Europe which was created by its history. Philosophers’ theories, scientists’ research and artists’ struggles all played a crucial role in bringing about modernity to the western countries. However, in the third world countries, modernity is an imported item rather than something spontaneously produced by their own flow of history. By and large, all the countries have benefited through modernity, in one way or another. Modernity did not only impact the physical world but also modified people’s mentalities, theories and minds.
Currently, Europe is experiencing a new transitional period which is from modernity to post-modernity. Modernity will melt away in the heart of post-modernity. According to philosophers, if the god of modernity was human rationality, there is no god in the post-modern period. In other words, post-modern period is a godless world with no pivot point as an anchor. Anyway, it is neither our subject matter nor a debatable issue in our society.
In the classic age, people used to live in a mystical world. If we glance over our classic literature or go through the poems of Hafiz, Sadi, Jami, etc, their central sources were the Holy Quran, Hadiths, and the statements of Imams which include mystery, secrecy and an invisible hand and a secret power behind the veil which manage the world. According to Abdulkarim Soroush, the people were like passengers in a boat which were guided by and according to the will of a sailor. This was the mystery of the world. In short, people did not consider themselves free and independent.
The mentality of self-help and independence of history and humans are the attitude of the modern world. For example, humanism, which is an element of the new world, means the same. Humanism does not mean that the people have discovered their dignity and value or they are “philanthropist” who sympathize with their fellows. These are the outcomes of humanism. However in philosophical terms, it means that people relied on their own knees to stand up rather than relying on other sources or powers. They used their strength and tactics to establish new world. Hence, humanism spread throughout the modern world and demystified the world to some extent.
Our classical discourse is often a religious discourse. Abdulkarim Soroush says that religion, including Islam, Christianity, etc, is the most classic and traditional legacy of the past which reflects a society’s tradition. On the other hand, science, which is the very legitimate son of modern rationality and its most objective product, is the most transparent mirror which reflects the modern world and discourse.
In the classic world, the political realm is also filled with religious mystery. The kings, whether just or cruel, tried to be circled with a halo of sanctity and mystery. The cruel kings were considered as the rage of God. They were believed to dominate people in a supernatural way so that the people pay the atonement for their sin under the cruelties of the kings. Moreover, the just kings were considered as the shadow of God’s kindness. In short, ruling was “the shadow of God” which was either the shadow of rage or kindness.
Election is also a part of the modern discourse. In the pre-modern world, the nation-state relation was based on responsibility rather than right. Therefore, allegiance (Baiaat) was not equal to election. Despite election, which is the right of the citizens, allegiance was the responsibility of the peasants. It was a religious obligation for them to shake hands with their kings. So, there is a deep gap between our world and the classic world and now we come to know that we live in a transitional period.
In any transitional period, many elements of the classic world and modern world are combined and this is normal. I believe that we are just moving towards modernity and, therefore entering a modern world seems very time-consuming. It is a process that, perhaps, cannot be speeded up.