ABSTRACT

For Muslims unchangingness is both an ideal for human individuals and societies, and also a perception of the actual nature of humanity and its environment. Unchangingness is an all-pervading assumption which colours most aspects of the standard world-view, and this justifies giving it a prominent place in the presentation. Moreover, it is something which a Westerner finds it difficult to appreciate without a deliberate effort of thought. The idea of development is part of our general intellectual outlook. Anyone over the age of thirty has seen great changes in their lifetime, and assumes that these changes are for the better. In the case of the machines and gadgets which we are using in ever-increasing numbers we tend to expect a new and improved version every few years. Even if some of us are more critical of the idea of progress than our Victorian ancestors were, we still suppose that human society has advanced not just since primitive times but even from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It is thus very difficult for the Westerner to appreciate the outlook of those in whose thinking there is no place for development, progress or social advance and improvement.