Living Islam - Islamic Tradition





Immortality on Earth? Transhumanism through Islamic Lenses

December 11, 2017 Tamim Mobayed

The quest for immortality is often cited as being one of the end goals of transhumanism. 

Europe’s Enlightenment brought with it a number of intellectual upheavals that changed the course of human history. The impact of the Enlightenment on three branches of knowledge in particular—science, politics and philosophy—led to a revolution in the way in which knowledge was approached and utilised. The rise of secularism, at the expense of the power of the European Church, led to a fundamental difference in how morality was determined and enforced.


The scientific revolution of that time brought with it a hope, certainly amongst many of the elite classes of society, that a better world could be built on the back of science and reason.

In defence of the optimism, it is important to note that it was not exactly technology and science that buoyed these intellectuals, rather, it was the idea of man being governed by knowledge, be it the “pure reason” of the  rationalists, or the science of the empiricists. Shedding the religious dogmatism that had bogged Europe down in war, repression, and a neglect of material science, the Enlightenment was a time of intellectual hope. Political philosophers of this era, such as Benjamin Franklin (d. 1790) and William Godwin (d. 1836), believed that inequality and injustice, as well as disease (and perhaps one day, death) could be eradicated through scientific advances. Science was thus seen as an extension of reason, one of its most prominent schools of thought and application.

To those who accept Darwin’s theory, the idea that we will no longer evolve seems less credible or likely than the idea that we will continue evolving.

Transhumanism is already amongst us, with the theory being argued for within academic circles, while the practice is already present within the pharmacological world, by way of “designer drugs.”

Viewing nature as “a work-in-progress, a half-baked beginning” that humanity must improve upon highlights just how radically different the worldview of transhumanists is from the Islamic view, with God saying, “We have indeed created humankind in the best of molds” (Quran 95:4). While it would be incorrect to interpret this verse as pitting Islam against the advancement of the human race, it is certainly an indication of how different the two worldviews are in terms of how they view creation and the status of the human.

Both Islamic and secular transhumanists see the human being as a flawed creature. Muslims are taught in the Quran that there is a Divine reason for this. While humankind is seen as being created by God in an excellent mold, it is the nature of humans to engage in negative thoughts and actions. Transhumanists also point to the state of humanity as evidence of its need for interventions.

Islamic transhumanism calls on believers to improve and purify their perceptions by way of God-consciousness, brought about increasing in remembrance of God. It might be argued that a Muslim’s transhumanist goals are directly tied to their devotion to God, rather than mastery of secular science. This difference embodies the fundamental difference between an Islamic transhumanism and secular transhumanism.


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