How do societies and nations rise and achieve a leading position and civilizational influence? How do they fall and lose their civilizational renaissance, become humiliated and culturally subordinated? Why did Muslim societies lose their civilizational renaissance? What are the consequences? How can these societies regain their civilizational renaissance?
These are the crucial questions of the important reference book, "The Conditions of the Renaissance," which was published more than 70 years ago by the prominent thinker Malek Bennabi. The author was concerned with the conditions of the civilizational renaissance of contemporary Muslim societies and the threats posed by the materialistic and imperialistic contemporary Western civilization.
In spite of the important scientific and functional value of this excellent reference book, most intellectual, political and social elites in modern Muslim societies did not pay attention nor did they value it. There were even those who incited against it, thus the Muslim Ummah/ nation did not benefit from it, likewise it did not benefit from Ibn Khaldun’s ‘Introduction’.
What is strange, is that the society in which this important intellectual project was born and directed to, was the Algerian society as the first edition of the book was entitled “The Conditions of the Algerian Renaissance”. However, the Algerian society has not benefited from this project, but instead the author had been subjugated to security follow-ups and harassment for a period and then his case turned into a national issue! In addition, many parties have worked to besiege and obscure Malek Bennabi and his thoughts, and prevent them from reaching out to the new generations. But the steadfastness of this thinker and his insistence on communicating his ideas and his project to the generations by all available means, have led to the failure of their plans and efforts.
The project of Malek Bennabi was marginalized and neglected in a similar way to Ibn Khaldun’s project, which was dominated by the culture of fragmentation, indoctrination and superstition. This is what has so far prevented the Muslim Ummah from correcting, renewing and building its civilizational renaissance on sound and solid foundations, despite the great importance of this great project at the scientific and methodological levels.
Should the project of Ibn Khaldun’s ‘Introduction’ and its scientific approach have been known, the awareness of it would have been broadened, rooted scientifically, methodologically, culturally, socially and politically, and the process of Islamic civilizational renaissance would have been radically transformed. Consequently, the path of this process would have endured in human history and the Muslim Ummah and humanity benefit from its blessings so much.
There is no doubt that the Muslim Ummah in particular and the humanity in general have lost much due to the interruption of the balanced global intellectual and methodological project launched by Ibn Khaldun's ‘Introduction’, which tried to create a breakthrough in the Islamic as well as human knowledge and culture.
What is happening is that the Ummah and humanity suffered from the dualism and exhausting repulsion between materialism and spirituality, religiosity and the world, individual and collective, secularism and Islamic, ethical and unethical, tyranny and freedom, humanism and brutality, and human nature/fitra and abnormality. This could essentially be attributed to the worldview upon which the individuals and societies’ knowledge, theological, cultural, and social systems are based.
Many of these worldviews are based on non-universal knowledge and cultural principles, or based on a partial and contradictory universal knowledge and cultural principles that are excluding, marginalizing, opposing and exhausting to each other. This is so, at a time when human life needs to be balanced, integrated, and magnified its effectiveness, its usefulness and its civilizational blessings. This is in order, to be inclusive and balanced universal culture and knowledge that covers all aspects of this life and ensures its intellectual, psychological, spiritual, behavioral, social and universal balanced development, free from dualism and exhausting repulsion, antagonism and exhaustion.
This project, which was launched by the ‘Introduction’, revealed that the knowledge and cultural system of the Muslim Ummah and humanity lacks comprehensiveness, is not integrated and inclusive universal and balanced culture, thus incapable of providing the person with the comprehensive knowledge of the universe by which he could construct his perspective, and the rightly balanced universal vision which matches the facts of things and human nature that they already have.
These universal data, which influence the construction of the comprehensive and balanced universal visions, have been divided into four holistic and complementarily systems of universal rules concerning the universe, humans, guidance, and support. Ibn Khalun’s ‘Introduction’ departs from this thesis and asserts it because of its root in the Qur’anic global and balanced vision. This vision recognizes all these four universal systems, and gives each one of them its own independent status, term of reference and authority that is undisputed by other global systems, when it comes to its purpose of existence, and what was placed under its authority.
The consciousness of the four universal systems was fragmented into the contemporary Islamic or general human knowledge and culture. They focused the attention of each community system, on one or two systems of the four global systems at most and the rest of the systems have been excluded or marginalized. Human life and knowledge movement, cultural and social aspects of these societies were built on this fragmented non-reconciliatory basis.
The result of all this has been more dualism, heterogeneity, and chaos in knowledge, culture, psychology, behavior, social and civilizational exhausting.
The great importance of the project of “The Conditions of the Renaissance”, stems from the context of re-linking the historical cycles of knowledge, culture, and methodology of the Muslim Ummah and humanity.
The book of “The Conditions of the Renaissance” and its cultural project is a natural continuance of Ibn Khaldun’s book “The Introduction” and its cultural project. Both projects move towards the emphasis on the comprehensive Qur'anic worldview on the movement of life and the general laws governing its civilizational processes.
Hence, the importance of the interest in this reference book ‘The Introduction’, in terms of methodology, and everything that moves in the forefront of knowledge and culture of Islam and humanity in general. This is in order to achieve the required human balance of knowledge and culture, which in turn helps achieve the integration and balance in personality and performance of self and social at the end of the day. This is in fact the goal of all human societies.
On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the publication of this important reference project, in which the author was able to connect it with Ibn Khaldun’s project, restore its vitality, expand the circle of vision and deepen it, and raise it from the level of the narrow tribal or political circle, to the level of the general public civilizational circle. This would enable the individual, the tribe, the authority, the state, the society, and the Muslim Ummah to move within its laws and influencing factors. Based on this, the fate of human societies in this world, and the destinies of individuals in the next world of the unseen are determined. We should look at the structure of this project and consider ways to implement it in our contemporary reality to achieve the desired civilizational renaissance.
On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the publication of the book 'The Conditions of the Renaissance', the College of Islamic Studies at Hamad Bin Khalifa University is pleased to announce the convening of this International Conference for an inclusive, in-depth and integrated evaluation of this book, also to have a comprehensive academic dialogue and debate on the Renaissance project within the global laws (Sunan) that Malek Bennabi adhered to and incorporated in his methodology and systematic study of the intellectual, cultural, social and civilizational phenomena.
The organizers hope that the conference will be a platform for scholars, thinkers and researchers to study the intellectual project of Malek Bennabi, carry out a progressive evaluation of the Renaissance project and its thesis, and envisage the prospects for its development. This helps our societies to move from unsystematic and partial handling of its renaissance problems to the scientific approach, which is based on the enactment of God’s global laws (Sunan) in humans’ past, present and future. Ultimately, change the reality of Muslim societies towards achieving sovereignty and independence, civilizational leadership, and restoring its vibrant role in the international community.
Therefore, the organizers of the conference seek to invite outstanding scholars, intellectuals, and leaders in the Muslim Ummah to write in one of the themes of the conference, as well as invite scholars and researchers from all over the world to submit their well-thought papers written in accordance with the guidelines and deadlines mentioned in this background call for papers.
The study and evaluation process are based on the following questions:
We have incorporated the questions mentioned above in the following main themes, which are needed to be addressed within the framework of Malek Bennabi’s thought in general, and the project "The Conditions of the Renaissance" in particular: