Hamid Parsania : Existence and The Fall: Spiritual Anthropology of Islam

hamid ParsaniaTranslated and annotated by Shuja Ali Mirza
(London : ICAS, 2006); ISBN 1-904063-23-3 (pb);x+198 pp
Reviewded by Zubaidah Yusuf, MA

Parsania’s profound work ‘Existence and the Fall’ goes over expectations of readers towards the studies on human, more than what Anthropology, in modern sense, has presented over centuries. This work does not only answer some fundamental questions of the nature of man, but also triggers and provokes us that we must not stop questioning ourselves. To deny the search of who we are is a sin. To just quest ‘us’ in materialistic way is an act of dumb. Regarding the crisis in multi-dimensions of human life, the work underlines the Socratic imperatives “know thyself” to be the echo of the perennial message of all religions and becomes indispensable as the beginning of the cure.

This present work expounds ‘movements of man’, starts from his point of the origin and traces, in historical fashion; to his arrival on the material plane of existence and his accelerating descent into the modern world. By explaining the journey, the causes of current crisis including the symptoms, the author offers the resolution of the problem that is man’s return to his origin and the ascent toward his final destination and goal. Profoundly, it covers both individual and social planes. On the first level, it means to embark upon the spiritual journey towards God, a journey that embraces self-knowledge and self-purification. On the social plane, it justifies the cultivation of a society in accordance with the Divine Guidance as well as its conformity to Divine Law. Such environment primarily attracts, nourishes and sustains its inhabitants on a path of spiritual wayfaring.

The work for its purpose, has shown the author’s character of writings. It comes to address the plight of contemporary man and the difficulties of the modern anthropological perspectives and at the same time, up brings the richness of Islamic intellectual heritage. Hence, it exemplifies a classical exposition on religious anthropology which mainly sources from a firm philosophical and mystical tradition of Islam. And furthermore, it also presents itself as a viable alternative and rich substitute to modern philosophical and scientific anthropology.

In this work, the author is attempting to show how all of the modern disciplines are deviations and truncated forms of the original religious anthropology which sometimes posthumously referred as “spiritual anthropology”. For this intention, the author uses the word ‘anthropology’ without the preceding adjective.

The work precisely contends the ontological and epistemological foundations of this type of anthropology as well as the relationship between them. Tawhid, the main principle of Islamic teachings, looks upon man and the universe in unity relying upon revelation and the intellect as two sources of its cognitive content and defines man as the vicegerent of God in the world.

By a way of philosophical argumentation, it accomplishes in portraying dynamic interdependence and unavoidable inter-correlation between ontology and epistemology which their demarcation was mostly set up by the modern Western philosophical thought.