According to this approach history, like nature itself,
is developing and progressing towards a state of
perfection. The development of history is neither
confined to the technical nor the cultural aspects, nor
to the growth and improvement of the means of
production. It is an all-round and all pervading process
and extends to all human affairs. Man, as a result of
his comprehensive evolution, is moving towards
liberation from environmental and social bonds and is
gradually throwing off the shackles which bind him to
At the same time his adherence to an ideology and faith
is growing. In the future he is expected to secure
complete emancipation and with that to reach the stage
of complete adherence to faith and ideology. In the past
when man was less able to exploit natural resources he
was a slave to nature. In the future, with more and more
exploitation of natural resources, he will not only be
free from the bonds of nature but will also gradually
bring it under his domination and control.
It is erroneous to say that evolution follows the
development of the means of production. Those who say so
confuse the cause with the effect. In fact, the
development of the means of production is the result of
man's natural craving for perfection, expansion and
diversification. It originates from his power of
invention which has, with the passage of time grown and
is still growing. According to this approach one of the
characteristics of man is the internal and individual
contradiction between his terrestrial and celestial
aspects, i.e. between those instincts which are inclined
down wards and aim only at the individual, limited and
temporary gains and those which are inclined upwards and
want to encompass the whole of humanity and aim at
achieving the moral, religious, scientific and
intellectual objectives. The famous Persian poet,
The soul inclines to wisdom and science,
The body inclines to gardens and fruits,
The soul inclines to progress and honour,
The body inclines to property and chattels,
The body inclines to greenery and flowing water,
because it originates from them,
The soul inclines to life and the living;
because its origin is divine,
Allah also inclines to soul,
So say that He loves them and they love Him.
The internal conflict of man, which the ancients called
the fight between reason and passion, automatically
leads to the conflict between different groups of human
beings, the elated and morally liberated beings on the
one side and the nasty and brutish beings on the other.
This approach accepts the existence of a conflict as a
part of the development and evolution of history, but
not in the form of class war between those attached to
the old means of production and old social system and
those attached to the more modern means of production.
It claims that a conflict has always existed between men
with mature faith who are free from the captivity of
nature and the environment of animal instincts and have
an object in view and the degraded and brutish persons
and it has played a very effective role in the evolution
To interpret all the wars in history as class wars is
tantamount to closing the eyes to the most beautiful and
the brightest manifestations of human life all along.
Throughout history many battles have been fought to
secure material needs like food, clothing or housing, or
on questions connected with sex, power and prestige. But
there have definitely been certain battles which can be
described as fights between the right and the wrong and
the good and the evil. They represented a struggle
between the human motives and the animal propensities,
between the common good and the individual interests,
between the high human values and the base desires and
between the progressive and the elated man and the low
and the perverted man. In the words of the holy Qur'an
they were fights between the troops of Allah and the
troops of the Devil. The supporters of this theory
strongly censure the attempts of the materialists to
interpret all religious, ethical and human movements on
the basis of class struggle and regard such attempts as
a distortion of history and an insult to human dignity.
Historical events show that many movements which were
initiated for securing the primary material needs were
led and guided or at least supported by individuals who
themselves were well-off and well-placed.
Contrary to the claim of the materialists that all
progressive campaigns are waged by the oppressed and the
deprived classes wanting to displace the existing system
and to replace it by another system which may ensure
their material needs in conformity with the developed
means of production there exists historical evidence to
prove that progressive movements have not always been
confined to the oppressed classes.
They have occasionally been led by the individuals
belonging to the privileged classes who thrust their
dagger into the heart of the ruling system.
The risings of Abraham, Moses, Muhammad and Husayn were
all of this nature. It is also misleading to suggest
that the progressive movements have always aimed at
material objectives. The movement of the early Muslims
bears witness to the fact that this is not so. Ali
identifying the nature of this movement said: "They were
given permission to defend their faith with the help of
their swords". (See: Sermon 154, Peak of Eloquence, ISP
1979) Similarly, progressive movements have not always
been the result of the development of the means of
During the past two centuries a number of freedom
movements were launched both in the East and the West.
One such movement was the movement for securing a
constitutional government in Iran, known as the Mashruta
Movement. In this case it cannot be claimed that the
development of the means of production had created a
crisis in Iran. It is also not true that unrest in the
society has always been caused by the unsuitability of
the legal provisions of the existing system. In certain
cases the provisions as such were quite acceptable, but
a campaign had to be waged to secure their effective
enforcement and the Alawi uprisings during the Abbasid
period had this nature. Human conscience is not so
depraved that people cannot be inspired by anything
higher and nobler than their basic material needs.
From the above the following conclusions may be drawn:
1. Evolutionary battles: Battles in history have been of
divergent forms, nature and causes: But those which
contributed to the development of history and humanity
have been only those which were fought between the men
of high ideology, free from selfishness and greed and
the men of selfish and beastly nature lacking in
aspirational and intellectual life.
The nature of the wars which have contributed to the
advancement and evolution was not that of a class war
nor that of a confrontation between the new and the old
in the sense mentioned earlier during the course of the
discussion on the materialistic theory. Wars have, by
and by acquired an ideological aspect and from the
viewpoint of human values man is gradually coming closer
to perfection i.e. to the stage of an ideal man in an
ideal society. He will continue to advance on this path
till a world government, having full regard for all
human values is established and that will be the end of
all the evil forces and selfish wars.
According to the Islamic terminology this government is
called the Mahdi Government.
2. Absurdity of logical continuity: A logical continuity
of the historical stages as described by the
materialists is baseless. Historical events, especially
those of the past one century, prove the absurdity of
this theory. During this period only such countries have
gone over to communism as had never passed through the
stage of capitalism. The Soviet Union, China and the
East European countries are a conspicuous example of it.
On the other hand the countries with a highly developed
capitalistic system like the United States, Great
Britain and France are still maintaining their old
systems and a century old prediction of the protagonists
of materialism concerning the workers revolution in the
heavily industrialized countries like Britain and France
has turned out to be mere illusion.
It is evident from the above that there is no such thing
as a historical compulsion. It is quite possible that in
a capitalistic society the proletarian class attains
such a state of prosperity and well being that it may
totally reject all ideas of revolution. Similarly, it is
also possible that with appearance of a clear and
convincing ideology and an elevation of religious and
social conscience a nomadic society may reach the
highest stage of human culture in one leap. The
renaissance of the early Islamic era bears witness to
3. Sanctity of an armed struggle: The lawfulness and
sanctity of an armed struggle does not mean an
encroachment on any individual's rights or aspirations.
The struggle becomes lawful and sacred whenever anything
sacred to humanity is in danger. Whenever any right,
especially that which pertains to the entire society, is
threatened an armed struggle is allowed. Freedom is one
such right. A struggle for the liberation of the
oppressed, as specifically mentioned in the holy Qur'an,
is another instance.
If the belief in the Oneness of Allah, which is the
greatest asset of humanity, is in danger then a fight is
4. Reforms: There is no reason why partial or gradual
reforms should be condemned. History does not
compulsorily pass through contradictions and the
transformation of one contradiction into another is not
a universal truth. Hence, it is not correct to say that
partial and gradual reforms prevent an explosion and
block the way to evolution.
Even partial and gradual reforms do encourage and help
those who fight for a rightful and just cause and bring
the chances of their final success closer. In contrast
corruption, turmoil and perversions help the hostile
forces and slow down the movement of history in favour
of the righteous people. According to this approach,
what is required is a sort of development which precedes
the ripening of the fruit on the tree and not an
explosion. The better the care, anti pest protection and
watering of a tree, the better, healthier, and sometimes
earlier is the fruit it produces.
5. Disorders: The same reasons which justify partial and
gradual reforms also make unlawful subversion and
sabotage with a view to creating deadlock and crisis,
which is recommended by the materialistic theory.
6. Vacillations of history: Although, on the whole,
history moves towards evolution, yet contrary to the
materialistic view, such a movement is neither
compulsory nor inevitable. It is also not essential that
every society in any stage of its history should be more
perfect than it was in the preceding stage.
The prime mover of history is man who is free and the
master of his actions. Hence, history fluctuates in its
movements. Sometimes it goes forward and sometimes
It sways now to the right and now to the left. Some
times it moves fast and sometimes slow and occasionally
stands still. A society continues to rise and fall. The
history of human civilization is nothing but a series of
rises, falls and extinctions. As the famous historian,
Toynbee, has pointed out, decline of every single
civilization is inevitable, though on the whole, human
history continues to advance steadily along a line of
7. The evolutionary march of humanity towards freedom
from the restrictions imposed by natural environments,
economic conditions and individual and group interests
has on the whole, been guided towards a purposeful life,
a better ideology and a deeper faith.
The will of a primitive man is mostly conditioned by his
natural and social environments and his animal impulses,
whereas a culturally advanced man with his broad outlook
has gradually attained a great deal of freedom from such
restrictions and has consequently, to a large extent,
brought his environments and his impulses under his
8. The jihad and the efforts to persuade others to adopt
the righteous path are quite different from a class war,
for they have a humanitarian basis.
9. The power of conviction and reasoning is genuine,
natural and effective. A conviction enables the human
conscience to overcome material urges.
10. The Hegelian and Marxian triangle of thesis,
antithesis and synthesis is neither applicable to
history nor to nature and consequently it is a false
presumption that history passes through contradictories
or that historical stages are a series of
contradictories derived from each other and transformed
into one another.
The triangle of thesis, antithesis and synthesis is
based on two transformations and one combination i.e.
the transformation of a phenomenon into its antithesis,
then its transformation into the antithesis of
antithesis and the combination of these two forms at the
third and last stage viz. the synthesis.
But, in reality, nature does not work in this manner.
What actually exists in nature is either a combination
of two contradictories without transformation, or
transformation of one contradictory into another without
any combination. The third form which is met with is
evolution without either transformation or combination.
Many elements which are somewhat contradictory to each
other combine together but are not transformed into each
other. For instance, water is a mixture of hydrogen and
oxygen. In such cases there is a combination, not
transformation. There are other cases where nature
gradually tilts from one excessive state to the opposite
state and in the process strikes a balance between the
two. In such cases there is a transformation, but no
combination. There are still other cases where a third
thing comes into being as a result of the combination of
the two things. Of course, there is no harm if we call
the resulting third thing synthesis and the two original
ones thesis and antithesis respectively, but that means
nothing more than the use of common and familiar terms.
The same is the case with the use of the word
"dialectic". It is a beautiful and well-sounding
word and no writer would like to be deprived of it.
Therefore, there is no harm if it is used in
connection with any idea that combines the
principles of motion and contradiction though it may
not have those distinctive features of dialectic
thinking to which we have referred before.
Two Concepts About Man
The above-mentioned two approaches to the evolutionary
movement of history have resulted from two concepts
about man, his real identity and his hidden capacities.
According to the first concept man is a prisoner of his
material interests, all his actions being invariably
determined by the compulsion of the means of production
and economic conditions. His conscience, his
temperament, his judgement, his ideas and his selections
are all but a reflection of his natural and social
environment against the dictates of which he cannot make
the slightest move.