Notes 1 on Postmodernism

Two Texts - Quotes

Edited by OmarKN

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1. - From The System Of Antichrist

Charles Upton1

Presented here are a few quotes on Postmodernism by Charles Upton in his book The System Of Antichrist from pages 35-39.

If there is anything good in postmodernism, then "it cautions against absolutist claims, which CAN tyrannize.” Or in other words, absolutist claims don't have to be tyrannizing per se.

Also postmodernism may - in the best of cases - "arise as defender of the many diverse views.”1

Postmodernism "should be able to work against doctrinal idolatry (i.e. to take one's view of reality for reality itself)2, or against the idolatry of world-views.” Instead postmodernism "is for the most part 'even more anti-metaphysical than modernism.'” It is a "nihilistic denial that (objective) truth is [even] desirable.”

"All a philosophy” (or a wisdom of the divine - also more accurately, a theosophy) "really needs is to be open, in the vertical dimension, to transcendent Truth, in the sense of the Absolute, and to conform its formulations, imperfect as they must be, to that sense.”

And as long as we realize that religion, unlike philosophy, is addressed to man's whole being, not simple his mind, the same can be said of any viable religious form. (Only God can be absolutely consistent and complete.)

All it needs is to have preserved, operatively intact, in its dogma, ritual, morality and contemplative practice, the living ray of God, by which it came into the world, and along which the human souls within it can return to the Source Who sent it."

But then one needs to remember that according to Huston Smith: "It is impossible that any one system has all the truth. Other voices should be listened to.”

Also "all truth cannot be known by adding system to system. Information, quantitative truth, can be amassed; transcendent, spiritual Truth cannot.”

In postmodernism there is this "despair of objective truth.” This is the one word, which you are not allowed to utter, unless you want to be called names.

And this is therefore the greatest flaw of postmodernism: "Rather than positing a reality which transcends all our views, it denies that such a Reality could be; in the place of the Divine Emptiness beyond all conception, we are left with a literal hollowness, a dead lack.”

How to Overcome The Idolatry of Views?

Our views on God are not God!

We accept God's Self-revelations as gifts.

Those gifts may enable us to overcome postmodernismic nihilism, which is "a kind of counterfeit mysticism,” and if it will continue its course will bring near the end of the cycle.


2. - Liquid Modernity

[Original Title: How Liberal Alliances Will Destroy Muslims]

Imam Mikaeel Smith July 27, 2017

2.1 Walking on water: Liquid Modernity

Perhaps the hallmark attribute of the Late-Modern society is its liquidity and lack of definition. In the Late-Modern society form and definition are subject to perspective. Definitions are not objective and terms are defined by the mind of the one using them and not by an external source outside of the mind. Reason and logic are thrown out the window in the face of public opinion. A man or a woman is not a biological, objective, concrete thing but rather it is defined by the one using the term. Truth, justice, equality and freedom are also liquidated.3

To say such and such nation is not free simply means such and such nation does not measure up to our definition of freedom. Any objective discussion on what freedom is remains left out of public discourse. This liquidation is a necessary step in the [specious] liberation of mankind. It frees man [so it seems, if viewed superficially] to act in accordance with his or her own definition of the world around them.

Suggesting appropriateness or inappropriateness of another person's conduct becomes inappropriate or unacceptable in the liquid world. "Who are you to tell me what I am doing is wrong?” is a normal and plausible response if reality of the world around that person is defined by nothing other than my perspective and my freedoms.4

2.2 Liquid Society Is Disconnected and Lacks Definition

Zygmunt Bauman's has coined the term Liquid Modernity to define late modernity state. Liquids by nature assume the form of the vessel it is placed in. Religious tradition by nature does not wish to be liquid. But rather it desires to be the vessel which gives shape to the lives of human beings and society as a whole. Religion shapes and is not shaped.5 He introduced the idea of liquid modernity, and explained its characteristics are about the individual, namely increasing feelings of uncertainty and the privatization of ambivalence. It also (induces) people to shift from one social position to another in a fluid manner.9 My concern is the rise of liquid Muslim leaders who will become very valuable in the context we live in.6

2.3 The Plasticity Project

Muslims should be prepared for what I will call the "plasticity project”. The "plasticity project” is the organized effort by scholars and political activists to create an image of religious tradition that never contradicts the liberal trends of the broader society. Religious tradition, which was originally sent to be brought to the public square for dialogue will be muzzled and not allowed into public discourse. The "plasticity project” will reread and reinterpret the early positions of tradition in a way that harmonizes perfectly with the current discourse.

The project outwardly seeks to bring Muslims to the table of discourse but in reality, it only brings a neutered, toothless replica to that table.7

Classical Islamic sources clearly convey upon human beings the responsibility of maintaining an objective standard of morality which should shape and guide the moral values of society. The individual rights of man are not subjective to the whims of emotions and societal pressures. The very definition of freedom from the Islamic perspective is viewed ultimately as freedom from the self as opposed to freedom of the self.8

2.4 Understanding the Limitations Set by Allah

Hadith regarding those who understand and obey the limits set by Allah and those one who don't:

عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: ” مَثَلُ القَائِمِ عَلَى حُدُودِ اللهِ وَالوَاقِعِ فِيهَا، كَمَثَلِ قَوْمٍ اسْتَهَمُوا عَلَى سَفِينَةٍ، فَأَصَابَ بَعْضُهُمْ أَعْلاَهَا وَبَعْضُهُمْ أَسْفَلَهَا، فَكَانَ الَّذِينَ فِي أَسْفَلِهَا إِذَا اسْتَقَوْا مِنَ المَاءِ مَرُّوا عَلَى مَنْ فَوْقَهُمْ، فَقَالُوا: لَوْ أَنَّا خَرَقْنَا فِي نَصِيبِنَا خَرْقًا وَلَمْ نُؤْذِ مَنْ فَوْقَنَا، فَإِنْ يَتْرُكُوهُمْ وَمَا أَرَادُوا هَلَكُوا جَمِيعًا، وَإِنْ أَخَذُوا عَلَى أَيْدِيهِمْ نَجَوْا، وَنَجَوْا جَمِيعًا

"The example of the one who understands and obeys the limitations set by Allah compared to the one who doesn't understand and obey the limitations is like a group of people who boarded a ship.

The people drew lots to determine where they would sit. Some of them sat below deck whereas others sat above deck. Whenever the people below the deck needed water they would have to pass by those above deck.

The idea came to them that they should just put a hole in the bottom of the ship and take their water from there (to them this was more practical for them and the people above the deck if as well.) If the people above the deck allow the people below the deck to go through with idea they will all be destroyed. However, if they stop them, they will all be saved.”

Islam defines liberation not as freedom of the self,
but rather freedom from the self.

- quoted from [muslimmatters.org/2017/07/27]

Related texts

- Notes 2 on Postmodernism - Foucault
- Modernism And Postmodern Thought, from S H Nasr
- Who was René Guénon - Shaykh `Abd Al Wahid Yahya?
- The Nature Of Sacred Knowledge, from S H Nasr
- On the common eternal principles, and that Islam reigns, OKN
- East & West, quoting René Guénon
- The Islamic Conception Of Man, Sh. S H Nasr
- Metaphysical Foundations, OKN
- What Is Metaphysics? OKN

2021-04-10 vs.1.3; from 2017-04-04
[livingislam][Main New Texts ][Muḥyiddīn Ibn ʿArabi] [Understanding God] [Metaphysics] [our facebook-icon] [next page]

Disclaimer: First of all it is Islam that reigns (see Sura 5:3).
Traditional Islam does not accept the notion that the world-religions (and even less so any man-made belief system) would be equally valid paths to God, these are perennialist interpretations. Even so, they (their laws) still reflect some sacred truth, so they did not turn into falsehood by being abrogated. These two points need to be kept in mind.

• In the words of Muhyiddīn Ibn `Arabi: ”The religious laws are all lights, and the law of Muhammad ﷺ among these lights is as the sun's light among the light of the stars…”

”So all paths return to look to the Prophet's path ﷺ : if the prophetic messengers had been alive in his time, they would have followed him just as their religious laws have followed his law.…” [further reading]

  1. But "without the vertical dimension, without the concrete sense of the Absolute, the celebration of diversity as opposed to unity can only be an ironic comment on the impossibility of arriving at objective truth, coupled with a nihilistic denial that such truth is even desirable.” p.38

    This is from; Upton, Charles
    ”The System of Antichrist: Truth & Falsehood in Postmodernism & the New Age” – 1 Jul 2001; SAC35-39

  2. "(Our) denial of any objective truth (beyond the views of reality, which we already have) forces us to idolize those views (which are now the only ‘reality’ there is.)”

  3. ”These terms no longer become terms that judge people and civilization but rather they become words that though used regularly, lose any real meaning.  Those in control will consider themselves the standard for defining these terms.”

  4. ”Speaking about the inappropriateness of actions and life styles are not attacks on individuals but rather their appropriation of center lifestyles and actions. The creation of "safe zones” (which are anything but safe) in essence creates a sphere in which truth and falsehood, or appropriateness and inappropriateness don't exist and cannot be discussed. Simply do as you like.”

  5. ”Zygmunt Bauman has written extensively on the incoherence of a liquid society that lacks definition.”

  6. ”Professor and writer Peter J. Leithart condemns Muslims to the same ill fate of her sister faiths, 'We have no reason to believe that the path of privatization in Judaism or Islam would be similar to that of Christianity, because the very terms of communal membership and individual identity are so different in these religions from what they are in a secularized Christian polity'.”

  7. ”Of course, religious traditions such as Christianity and Islam are not opposed to liberty and freedom. Rather these traditions wish to maintain open discourse about the definitions of these jargon terms.”

  8. ”According to Taylor and MacIntyre the eventual failure of Liberalism lies in its definition of the self, community and morality.”
    Original text continues here - muslimmatters.org

  9. This ambivalence is quite the opposite to the Islamic paradigm.This is clear f. ex. from Allah's word in Surah al-Furqan 25-1:

    { Blessed is He Who hath revealed unto His slave the Criterion (of right and wrong), that he may be a warner to the peoples. }

    Without this criterion, who would know anything?