Islam is based on an understanding of human life as part of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala's Divine Will, as a passing stage of human existence designed to test us before we move on to true and everlasting life. Modern, secular, western civilization, on the other hand, is by-and-large based on a totally different understanding (or misunderstanding) that denies the existence and intervention of the Divine Being, and focuses entirely on life in this world as the be-all-and-end-all of human existence.
The preliminary and transitory nature of our life in this world is known and understood by all Muslims. It is an essential and elementary part of the Islamic faith. But the harsh truth is that all too many Muslims in the modern world - particularly those living in the west - live their lives as if they do not know and understand it. This is largely a reflection of the western attitude, which Muslims have been persuaded to adopt in their conduct if not in their beliefs, by both the worldly success and dominance of the west, and its aggressive proselytising of its worldview.
This evangelism and indoctrination is conducted through the west's intellectual work, its academia, its philosophers, its media and its cultural institutions and output, in so overwhelming a fashion that the west's secular faith is implicitly accepted as sacrosanct and beyond question. Challenging the received truths propagated by the west's secular priesthood is a task that demands the ability to see through and analyse the west's myths, and to see and convey the clear evidence for the truth that is to be found both in the world we live in, and in the history and experiences of those who have lived in this world before us. Such clarity of perception and articulation is frankly rare indeed.
In this fascinating book, however, the Turkish Muslim intellectual who writes under the name of Harun Yahya (and who is presently in jail in Turkey because of his Islamic activities) has written a remarkable and extremely effective reminder of 'the truth of the life of this world'.
Harun Yahya is a prolific author who has written widely on political and faith-related issues. His command of the Qur'an, his knowledge of human history and his understanding of the contemporary western scientific and political worlds are all profound. In this book, first published in Turkish early last year, he summarises and draws together many of the arguments developed in his previous works.
The book opens - as this review did - with a discussion of the transitory nature of human life in this world. It reminds Muslims (and other readers) of the Qur'anic explanations of Allah's purpose in creating this world and placing us in it, citing and explaining numerous Qur'anic ayaat in their contexts. He particularly emphasises the passage of time and the miniscule timescale of human lives in the greater schedule of Creation. And he reminds readers of the Quranic warnings that this world will deceive humans if they are not conscious of the Divine purpose.
Yahya then goes on to discuss the weaknesses of man (in contrast to the arrogance of western civilisation); the 'lure of wordly goods'; the physical nature of the world; the histories of past civilisations, as revealed in the Qur'an and by scholarship; and the Quranic reminders that man's 'true abode' is in the hereafter, for which this world is but a preparation.
The latter stages of the book present the author's theories of the relativity of time and fate, the 'real essence of matter' and his extremely effective countering of the theory of evolution. Through-out his command of matters scientific is impressive. Inevitably, some of his theories are more open to debate than others, as different scholars may interpret Quranic ayaat and other evidences differently, but they are convincing nonetheless.
Throughout, the text is clear and readable (for which credit is due to the English translators and editors as well as the author), and the marshalling and use of Quranic ayaat extremely effective. The book is also superbly presented, with numerous full-colour photographs, illustrations and diagrams, beautifully designed and produced on high-quality paper; considering all of which, the price is quite remarkably low.
High-quality Islamic literature in English is depressingly difficult to find. The need for literature that can present the Islamic worldview effectively enough to counter the weight and volume of the west's literature is extremely urgent. This book - even though not all readers will agree with some of its theoretical understandings - is one of the few that is likely to be convincing to sceptical readers steeped in western propaganda, be they Muslim or non-Muslim. That alone is a very considerable achievement.