The nature of human intelligence is a subject which has fascinated me for many years. Early in my life I began to explore questions of epistemology. What is knowledge? What is the nature of the intellect? How can I acquire true knowledge? Who should I regard as intelligent? Who can I take as an authority?
My search has led me to explore the history of human thought from Socrates (Ancient Greek philosopher) to Bertrand Russell (twentieth century British philosopher), to the complex and intricate ideas of the post modern era. I have been left with a sense that all these thinkers have relied on artifice and fabrication, promoting partial and subjective viewpoints, which did not grapple with the core issues of human existence. They succeeded in diverting people away from the fundamental priorities of humanity. Not having attained the full potential of the human mind, these ‘thinkers’ collectively exploited the suggestive nature of ordinary people and established a hierarchy of secondary priorities. Through mutual praise and admiration of each other they ensured that limited models of thought were regarded as the mark of human progress.
Intelligence is the ability to identify appropriate priorities. All these thinkers failed to focus on the fundamental human priorities that would ensure the future of all Humanity, enabling it to realise its full potential. Let us take a simple comparison. Prehistoric Man was illiterate and unsophisticated, with few means of survival. His existence was threatened from all sides. In these early stages of human life, the cave dweller
who first perceived these dangers to human existence and made them his priority was a genius of his time. Possessing the most basic resources, this ‘uneducated’ and ‘unintelligent’ human being made an accurate assessment of his priorities, ensuring that mankind and the ‘gift of life’ was passed on to future generations. The tree of life, its consciousness dripping in blood, had to endure unimaginable loss and suffering to survive. Our human ancestors endeavoured to leave each succeeding generation in a safe environment. The safe-guarding of life, the gift of speech and communication, the use of experience and experimentation, living in social communities: these are some of the greatest treasures which early Man passed on to future generations.
Millennia later we witness the devastating effects of the achievements of the educated and all- wise gatekeepers of human life, who belong to the most ‘advanced’ and ‘civilized’ societies known to Man. Knowledge, technology and status have become the tools for exploiting and devaluing people. The duty of safeguarding life has been replaced with the impulse for destruction. On what basis can contemporary, sophisticated society claim superiority over the ‘uncivilised’, backward and simple ancestors of the human race? Pre-historic Man fought and struggled against the grip of his reptilian instincts, trying to collect every grain and drop of wisdom to guide him. Yet modern Man, blinded by his arts and sciences and proud of his inventions and discoveries, is striving to strengthen and spread the self-destructive instincts that early Man was trying to subjugate.
The responsibility for this lies with the long list of scholars and thinkers who deliberately deceived the human race. Diverting people from the basic priorities, they lured them towards glittering, inconsequential theories. Philosophers, sages, politicians and military commanders became the victims of personal pride, driven by the desire for status and glory. Was this an expression of dislike for the ethical teachings of the Prophets? Who is the more intelligent, those who invite mankind to address their fundamental priorities, or those intellectual hypocrites who have entangled humanity in the complexities of tertiary priorities? The issue is not about religion - whether it is true or even necessary. It is about a basic question that has plagued humanity: what is the purpose of human existence? Why have Plato and Socrates not solved this basic question? Why did Fichte and Nietchse not provide a solution to it? Why did the investigations of Wittgenstein and Russell not focus on this most natural of questions?
The answer is simple – they did not possess integrating, holistic intellects. Their minds were not developed to a degree that would enable them to identify the priorities of life linked to the purpose of human existence. They possessed inferior and limited thinking which could not go beyond the intellectual confines of society. That is why they focused on mundane matters. The driving force behind their intellectual pursuits was not to discover the truth, but the desire to attain status and glory. They worshipped the splendour of their own intelligence. Consider the cosmologist who investigates the origins of the universe but completely overlooks the fundamental question of human purpose. Even Einstein in his preoccupation with the theory of Relativity ignores the fundamental point of human purpose on Earth.
I have been unable to find an explanation for the total self-disregard shown by these individuals, irrespective of time and place, in dealing with the basic question of purpose. With regret, I have arrived at the conclusion that these big names of human thought appear to be entangled in the spider’s web of intellectual deception. They colluded with each other to deceive the entire human race. Perhaps, these self-deceived individuals insisted on limiting the intellectual capacity of mankind in order to prevent them from using their intellects in an objective manner. Had their followers used their intellect objectively the limited intelligence of these thinkers would have been exposed. Instead, this long line of shallow-minded, unintelligent ‘thinkers’ glorified fundamental human flaws by portraying them as the product of intellect and insight. They led their fellow humans to the point where they do not know who they are, or their true identity as human beings, living aimless, meaningless lives with no destination, and a non-existent future.
The analysis I have presented above has been motivated by the desire to understand the human condition in an impartial manner. By natural disposition I am not a sceptical or a confrontational person. Nor has it been my habit to be envious of the achievements of others. Every step of human progress awakens within me a shared feeling of human greatness. However, the question that has troubled me since my youth is not specific to me. It is impossible for anyone to live a purposeful life without finding an answer to this question: what is the point of an exam in which your answers are not related to the questions?
(Translated from Muqaddama-tul-Quran (pp.17-19)
An English Edition of Muqaddama-tul-Quran by Prof.Ahmad Rafique Akhtar