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Old Tuesday, August 24, 2010
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Default Study Material

Sociology is a branch of the social sciences that uses systematic methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop and refine a body of knowledge about human social structure and activity, sometimes with the goal of applying such knowledge to the pursuit of social welfare. Its subject matter ranges from the micro level of face-to-face interaction to the macro level of societies at large.

Sociology is a broad discipline in terms of both methodology and subject matter. Its traditional focuses have included social relations, social stratification, social interaction, culture and deviance, and its approaches have included both qualitative and quantitative research techniques. As much of what humans do fits under the category of social structure or social activity, sociology has gradually expanded its focus to such far-flung subjects as the study of economic activity, health disparities, and even the role of social activity in the creation of scientific knowledge. The range of social scientific methods has also been broadly expanded. The "cultural turn" of the 1970s and 1980s brought more humanistic interpretive approaches to the study of culture in sociology. Conversely, the same decades saw the rise of new mathematically rigorous approaches, such as social network analysis.

Sociological reasoning is much older than the term “sociology.” Sociology, including economic, political, and cultural systems, has proto-sociological origins in the common stock of human knowledge and philosophy. Social analysis has been carried out by scholars and philosophers from at least as early as the time of Plato.

The term "sociology" was first used in 1780 by the French essayist Emmanuel Joseph Sieyčs (1748-1836) in an unpublished manuscript.[4]

The word was later used in 1838 by the French thinker Auguste Comte.[5] Comte had earlier used the term "social physics", but that term had subsequently been appropriated by others, notably Adolphe Quetelet. Comte hoped to unify history, psychology and economics. He believed that society's acquisition of knowledge passed through three basic stages: theological, metaphysical, and positive. Comte argued that if society could grasp the structure of this progress, it could prescribe suitable remedies for social ills.[6] Comte has come to be viewed as the "Father of Sociology".[6]

Sociology later evolved, as a scientific discipline, as an academic response to the challenges of modernity and modernization, such as industrialization and urbanization, that emerged in the early 19th century.

Key figures

"Classical" theorists of sociology from the late 19th and early 20th centuries include Vilfredo Pareto, Karl Marx, Ludwig Gumplowicz, Ferdinand Tönnies, Émile Durkheim, Herbert Spencer, Georg Simmel, Max Weber, and George Herbert Mead. Like Comte, these figures did not consider themselves only "sociologists". Their works addressed religion, education, economics, law, psychology, ethics, philosophy and theology. Their theories have been applied in a variety of academic disciplines and beyond. Each key figure is typically associated with a particular theoretical perspective and orientation used to interpret and understand human behaviour.

Other significant figures include Raymond Aron, Jean Baudrillard, Zygmunt Bauman, Howard Becker, Daniel Bell, Peter Berger, Peter Blau, Herbert Blumer, Pierre Bourdieu, Dieter Claessens, Randall Collins, Charles Horton Cooley, Lewis A. Coser, Ralf Dahrendorf, W. E. B. Dubois, Norbert Elias, Gilberto Freyre, Michel Foucault, Herbert Gans, Harold Garfinkel, Anthony Giddens, Erving Goffman, George Homans, Thomas Luckmann, Karl Mannheim, Marcel Mauss, Robert K. Merton, Robert Michels, C. Wright Mills, Talcott Parsons, Gabriel Tarde, W. I. Thomas, Thorstein Veblen, and Immanuel Wallerstein.

Institutionalizing sociology as an academic discipline

The discipline was taught under its own name for the first time in 1890, at the University of Kansas, Lawrence. The course, whose title was Elements of Sociology, was first taught by Frank Blackmar. It is the oldest continuing sociology course in the United States. The Department of History and Sociology at the University of Kansas, the first fully fledged independent university in the United States, was established in 1891.[7][8] The department of sociology at the University of Chicago was established in 1892 by Albion W. Small, who, in 1895, founded the American Journal of Sociology.[9]

The first European department of sociology was founded in 1895, at the University of Bordeaux by Émile Durkheim, founder of L'Année Sociologique (1896). The first sociology department to be established in the United Kingdom was at the London School of Economics and Political Science (home of the British Journal of Sociology) in 1904.[10] In 1919, a sociology department was established in Germany at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich by Max Weber, and in 1920 in Poland by Florian Znaniecki.

International co-operation in sociology began in 1893, when René Worms founded the Institut International de Sociologie, which was later eclipsed by the much larger International Sociological Association (ISA), founded in 1949.[11] In 1905, the American Sociological Association, the world's largest association of professional sociologists, was founded, and in 1909 the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziologie (German Society for Sociology) was founded by Ferdinand Tönnies and Max Weber, among others.

Positivism and anti-positivism
Articles: Positivism, Sociological positivism, and Antipositivism.

Max WeberThe methodological approach towards sociology by early theorists, led by Comte, was to treat it in much the same manner as natural science, applying much the same methods as those used in the natural sciences. The emphasis on empiricism and the scientific method sought to provide an incontestable foundation for any sociological claims or findings, and to distinguish sociology from less empirical fields such as philosophy. This methodological approach, called positivism, is based on the assumption that the only authentic knowledge is scientific knowledge, and that such knowledge can come only from positive affirmation of theories through strict scientific and quantitative methods.

Reactions against positivism began when German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel voiced opposition to both empiricism, which he rejected as uncritical, and determinism, which he viewed as overly mechanistic.[12] Although Karl Marx's dialectical materialism—as Marx's colleague Friedrich Engels referred to his and Marx's methodology—contrasted sharply with Hegel's idealism, his methodology was Hegelian insofar as it rejected positivism in favour of critical analysis, which seeks to supplement the empirical acquisition of "facts" with the elimination of illusions.[13] As critical theorists David Ashley and David Michael Orenstein observe, "Marx often pointed out that rational inquiry would be superfluous if the essence of things coincided directly with appearances";[14] Marx thus understood that appearances need to be critiqued, not simply documented.

Other philosophers, including Heinrich Rickert and even the empiricist Wilhelm Dilthey, questioned positivist and naturalist approaches to studying social life. Rickert and Dilthey argued that the natural world differs from the social world because of unique aspects of human society, such as meanings, symbols, rules, norms, and values, all of which inform human cultures. This view was further developed by Max Weber, who introduced the term antipositivism. According to this view, which is closely related to antinaturalism, sociological research should concentrate on human cultural values, symbols, and social processes viewed from a subjective perspective.

Weber was a hermeneuticist, more interested in interpreting subjective meaning than in charting objective action. Yet he also felt that sociology should be a "science", able to identify causal relationships—especially among ideal types, or hypothetical simplifications of complex social phenomena.[15] As a nonpositivist, however, Weber recognized that the selection and construction of ideal types was itself a subjective process, and realized that, unlike the causal relationships sought in positivistic science, those found between ideal types are not "ahistorical, invariant, or generalizable."[16] For example, Ashley and Orenstein point out that Weber, in his seminal work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, did not intend to suggest that the spirit of capitalism could not flourish outside the Protestant ethic (it has) or that factors outside the Protestant ethic did not contribute to the spirit of capitalism in the West (they did). What mattered to Weber was that the relationship between the two factors helped to distinguish the character of Western Europe—and the meaning derived by the subjects in it—from the rest of the world.[17]

Émile Durkheim was a major proponent of empirical sociological research,[18] both qualitative and quantitative. For example, he used ethnographic data to theorize about the social origins of religion, and compiled statistical information in order to understand the social roots of suicide. Yet his empirical bent may be overstated, perhaps as a result of the co-opting of his theories by the American positivist Talcott Parsons.[19] Durkheim gathered data, not for data's sake, but in order to understand and promote social evolution and reform.[19] Additionally, therefore, the original spirit of Durkheim's work may have become distorted by a growing disjuncture between institutionalized academia on the one hand, and the agitation and dynamics of reform and progress on the other.[19]

Twentieth-century developments

An example of a social network diagram.In the early 20th century, sociology expanded in the United States of America, including developments in both macrosociology, concerned with the evolution of societies, and microsociology, concerned with everyday human social interactions. Based on the pragmatic social psychology of George Herbert Mead, Herbert Blumer and, later, the Chicago school), sociologists developed symbolic interactionism.[20]

In Europe, in the Interwar period, sociology generally was both attacked by increasingly totalitarian governments and rejected by conservative universities. At the same time, originally in Austria and later in the U.S., Alfred Schütz developed social phenomenology, which would later inform social constructionism. Also, members of the Frankfurt school, most of whom moved to the U.S. to escape Nazi persecution, developed critical theory, integrating critical, idealistic and historical materialistic elements of the dialectical philosophies of Hegel and Marx with the insights of Freud, Max Weber—in theory, if not always in name—and others. In the 1930s in the U.S., Talcott Parsons developed structural-functional theory which integrated the study of social order and "objective" aspects of macro and micro structural factors.

Since World War II, sociology has been revived in Europe, although during the Stalin and Mao eras it was suppressed in the communist countries. In the mid-20th century, there was a general—but not universal—trend for U.S.-American sociology to be more scientific in nature, due partly to the prominence at that time of structural functionalism. Sociologists developed new types of quantitative and qualitative research methods. In the second half of the 20th century, sociological research has been increasingly employed as a tool by governments and businesses. Parallel with the rise of various social movements in the 1960s, theories emphasizing social struggle, including conflict theory, which sought to counter structural functionalism, and neomarxist theories, began to receive more attention.

The positivist tradition continues to be highly influential in sociology, especially in the United States. The discipline's two leading journals, American Journal of Sociology and American Sociological Review, primarily publish research in the positivist tradition. Social network analysis is an example of a new paradigm in this tradition. The influence of social network analysis is pervasive in many sociological sub fields such as economic sociology (see the work of J. Clyde Mitchell, Harrison White, or Mark Granovetter, for example), organizational behavior, historical sociology, political sociology, or the sociology of education. There is also a minor revival of a more independent, empirical sociology in the spirit of C. Wright Mills, and his studies of the Power Elite in the United States of America, according to Stanley Aronowitz.[21]

Sociological debates

Throughout the development of sociology, controversies have raged about how to emphasize or integrate concerns with subjectivity, objectivity, intersubjectivity and practicality in theory and research. The extent to which sociology may be characterized as a "science" has remained an area of considerable debate, which has addressed basic ontological and epistemological philosophical questions. One outcome of such disputes has been the ongoing formation of multidimensional theories of society, such as the continuing development of various types of critical theory. Another outcome has been the formation of public sociology, which emphasizes the usefulness of sociological analysis to various social groups.

Scope and topics of sociology
Please help improve this section by expanding it. Further information might be found on the talk page. (December 2008)

Social interactions and their consequences are studied in sociology.Sociology as a discipline never had well-defined boundaries. Although throughout the early 19th century it was primarily concerned with the social organization of complex industrial societies, it has now expanded into the traditional areas of anthropology, economics, and political science with the study of non-Western societies, culture, economic activity and politics (just as, in many cases, those disciplines extended into the traditional areas of sociology).

The Internet
Main article: Sociology of the Internet

The Internet is of interest to sociologists in various ways. The Internet can be used as a tool for research (for example, conducting online questionnaires), a discussion platform, and as a research topic. Sociology of the Internet in the broad sense includes analysis of online communities (i.e. newsgroups, social networking sites) and virtual worlds. Organizational change is catalyzed through new media like the Internet, thereby influencing social change at-large. This creates the framework for a transformation from an industrial to an informational society. Online communities can be studied statistically through network analysis and at the same time interpreted qualitatively through virtual ethnography. Social change can be studied through statistical demographics, or through the interpretation of changing messages and symbols in online media studies.

Practical applications of sociology

Sociological research informs educators, planners, lawmakers, administrators, developers, business leaders, and people interested in resolving social problems and formulating public policy.

Public sociology is an approach to sociology that seeks to engage wider audiences and become, in the words of Michael Burawoy, the "mirror and conscience of society".

Sociological research methods

Main article: social research
Methods of sociological inquiry vary. The type of methodology used researching sociology is predicated upon the theoretical orientation of the researcher(s). The basic goal of sociological research is to understand the social world in its many forms. Quantitative methods and qualitative methods are two main types of sociological research. Sociologists often use the quantitative methods, such as social statistics or network analysis to investigate the structure of a social process or describe patterns in social relationships. Sociologists also often use the qualitative methods such as focused interviews, group discussions and ethnographic methods to investigate social processes. Sociologists also use applied research methods such as evaluation research and assessment.

The following list of research methods is neither exclusive nor exhaustive. Researchers may adopt one or more than one type of research methodology for a research project. Types of research methods include the following:

Archival research: sometimes referred to as "Historical Method". This research uses information from a variety of historical records such as biographies, memoirs and news releases.
Content analysis: The contents of interviews and questionnaires are analyzed using systematic approaches. An example of this type of research methodology is known as "grounded theory." Books and mass media are also analyzed to study how people communicate and the messages people talk or write about.

Experimental research: The researcher isolates a single social process or social phenomena and uses the data to either confirm or construct social theory. Participants (also referred to as "subjects") are randomly assigned to various conditions or "treatments", and then analyses are made between groups. Randomization allows the researcher to be sure that the treatment is having the effect on group differences and not any extraneous factors.

Survey research: The researcher obtains data from interviews, questionnaires, or similar feedback from a set of people chosen (including random selection) to represent a particular population of interest. Survey items from an interview or questionnaire may be open-ended or closed-ended.
Life history: This is the study of the personal life trajectories. Through a series of interviews, the researcher can probe into the decisive moments or various influences in their life.

Longitudinal study: This is an extensive examination of a specific person or group over a long period of time.

Observation: Using data from the senses, one records information about social phenomenon or behavior. Observation techniques can be either participant observation or non-participant observation. In participant observation, the researcher goes into the field (such as a community or a place of work), and participates in the activities of the field for a prolonged period of time in order acquire a deep understanding of it. Data acquired through these techniques may be analyzed either quantitatively or qualitatively.
The choice of a method in part often depends on the researcher's epistemological approach to research as well as the researchers theoretical perspective. For example, researchers who are concerned with a statistical generalization to assign to a population will most likely administer structured interviews with a survey questionnaire to a carefully selected sample population. By contrast, sociologists, especially ethnographers, who are more interested in having a full contextual understanding of group members lives will choose participant observation, observation, and open-ended interviews. Many studies combine several of these methodologies. Adopting three (3) methodologies is referred to as "triangulation".

As is the case in most disciplines, sociologists are often divided into distinctive camps of support for particular research methodologies. This is based upon the researcher's theoretical orientation. In practice, some sociologists combine different research methods and approaches, since different methods produce different types of findings that correspond to different aspects of societies. For example, quantitative methods may help describe social patterns, while qualitative approaches could help to understand how individuals understand those patterns. This, however, does not mean that a qualitative approach can not identify or define patterns of behavior. Nonetheless, the method of analysis of the data obtained from a research methodology may be qualitative, quantitative or both.

Sociology and other social sciences

Sociology shares deep ties with a wide array of other disciplines that also deal with the study of society. The fields of anthropology, economics, political science and psychology have influenced and have been influenced by sociology and these fields share a great amount of history and common research interests. Social psychology within sociology is often referred to as "sociological social psychology". Two of the founders of social psychology as we understand it today are Muzafer Sherif and Carolyn Wood Sherif[citation needed], known for their work on the Robbers Cave Experiment[22]. The Sherifs also wrote several editions of "An Outline of Social Psychology"[23][24].

Today, sociology and other social sciences are better contrasted according to methodology rather than by objects of study. Additionally, unlike sociology, psychology and anthropology have forensic components that deal with anatomy and other types of laboratory research.

Sociobiology, is the study of how social behavior and organization has been influenced by evolution and other biological process. The field blends sociology with a number of other sciences, such as anthropology, biology, zoology, and others. Although the field once rapidly gained acceptance, it has remained highly controversial within the sociological academy. Sociologists often criticize the study for depending too greatly on the effects of genes in defining behavior. Sociologists often respond by citing a complex relationship between nature and nurture.

Sociology is also widely used in management science, especially in the field of organizational behavior as well as in fields such as social work.
Life is the name of competition.
Competition end, life end.

Last edited by Silent.Volcano; Tuesday, August 24, 2010 at 10:56 PM. Reason: Ameliorated for clarification of topics
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Old Tuesday, August 24, 2010
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Default Significant turning points in the history of mankind.

There are significant turning points in the history of mankind. We are now living in one of them. Some call it globalization and some say that this is the genesis of the “information age.” These are true, but there is yet a more important concept than these. Although some are unaware of it, great advances have been made in science and philosophy in the last 20-25 years. Atheism, which has held sway over the world of science and philosophy since the 19th century is now collapsing in an inevitable way.

Of course, atheism, the idea of rejecting God’s existence, has always existed from ancient times. But the rise of this idea actually began in the 18th century in Europe with the spread and political effect of the philosophy of some anti-religious thinkers. Materialists such as Diderot and Baron d'Holbach proposed that the universe was a conglomeration of matter that had existed forever and that nothing else existed besides matter. In the 19th century, atheism spread even farther. Thinkers such as Marx, Engels, Nietsche, Durkheim or Freud applied atheist thinking to different fields of science and philosophy.

The greatest support for atheism came from Charles Darwin who rejected the idea of creation and proposed the theory of evolution to counter it. Darwinism gave a supposedly scientific answer to the question that had baffled atheists for centuries: "How did human beings and living things come to be?" This theory convinced a great many people of its claim that there was a mechanism in nature that animated lifeless matter and produced millions of different living species from it.

Towards the end of the 19th century, atheists formulated a world view that they thought explained everything; they denied that the universe was created saying that it had no beginning but had existed forever. They claimed that the universe had no purpose but that its order and balance were the result of chance; they believed that the question of how human beings and other living things came into being was answered by Darwinism. They believed that Marx or Durkheim had explained history and sociology, and that Freud had explained psychology on the basis of atheist assumptions.

However, these views were later invalidated in the 20th century by scientific, political and social developments. Many and various discoveries in the fields of astronomy, biology, psychology and social sciences have nullified the bases of all atheist suppositions.

In his book, God: The Evidence, The Reconciliation of Faith and Reason in a Postsecular World, the American scholar Patrick Glynn from the George Washington University writes:

The past two decades of research have overturned nearly all the important assumptions and predictions of an earlier generation of modern secular and atheist thinkers relating to the issue of God. Modern thinkers assumed that science would reveal the universe to be ever more random and mechanical; instead it has discovered unexpected new layers of intricate order that bespeak an almost unimaginably vast master design. Modern psychologists predicted that religion would be exposed as a neurosis and outgrown; instead, religious commitment has been shown empirically to be a vital component of basic mental health…

Few people seem to realize this, but by now it should be clear: Over the course of a century in the great debate between science and faith, the tables have completely turned. In the wake of Darwin, atheists and agnostics like Huxley and Russell could point to what appeared to be a solid body of testable theory purportedly showing life to be accidental and the universe radically contingent. Many scientists and intellectuals continue to cleave to this worldview. But they are increasingly pressed to almost absurd lengths to defend it. Today the concrete data point strongly in the direction of the God hypothesis.1

Science, which has been presented as the pillar of atheist/materialist philosophy, turns out to be the opposite. As another writer puts it, "The strict materialism that excludes all purpose, choice and spirituality from the world simply cannot account for the data pour in from labs and observatories."2

In this article, we will briefly analyze the conclusions arrived at by different branches of science on this issue and examine what the forthcoming “post-atheist” period will bring to humanity.

Cosmology: The Collapse of the Concept of An Eternal Universe And the Discovery of Creation

The first blow to atheism from science in the 20th century was in the field of cosmology. The idea that the universe had existed forever was discounted and it was discovered that it had a beginning; in other words, it was scientifically proved that it was created from nothing.

This idea of an eternal universe came to the Western world along with materialist philosophy. This philosophy, developed in ancient Greece, stated that nothing else exists besides matter and that the universe comes from eternity and goes to eternity. In the Middle Ages when the Church dominated Western thought, materialism was forgotten. However in the modern period, Western scientists and philosophers became consumed by a curiosity about these ancient Greek origins and revived an interest in materialism.

Immanuel Kant:
Proposed the idea of a universe without a beginning or an end. He was terribly wrong.
The first person in the modern age to propose a materialist understanding of the universe was the renowned German philosopher Immanuel Kant—even though he has not a materialist in the philosophical sense of the word. Kant proposed that the universe was eternal and that every possibility could be realized only within this eternity. With the coming of the 19th century, it became widely accepted that the universe had no beginning, and that there was no moment of creation. Then, this idea, adopted passionately by dialectical materialists such as Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, came into the 20th century.

This idea has always been compatible with atheism. This is because to accept that the universe had a beginning would mean that God created it and the only way to counter this idea was to claim that the universe was eternal, even though this claim had no basis on science. A dogged proponent of this claim was Georges Politzer who became widely known as a supporter of materialism and Marxism in the first half of the 20th century through his book Principes Fondamentaux de Philosophie (The Fundamental Principles of Philosophy). Assuming the validity of the model of an eternal universe, Politzer opposed the idea of a creation:

The universe was not a created object, if it were, then it would have to be created instantaneously by God and brought into existence from nothing. To admit creation, one has to admit, in the first place, the existence of a moment when the universe did not exist, and that something came out of nothingness. This is something to which science can not accede.3

By supporting the idea of an eternal universe against that of creation, Politzer thought that science was on his side. However, very soon, the fact that Politzer alluded to by his words, “if it is so, we must accept the existence of a creator”, that is, that the universe had a beginning, was proven.

This proof came as a result of the “Big Bang” theory, perhaps the most important concept of 20th century astronomy.

The Big Bang theory was formulated after a series of discoveries. In 1929, the American astronomer, Edwin Hubble, noticed that the galaxies of the universe were continually moving away from one another and that the universe was expanding. If the flow of time in an expanding universe were reversed, then it emerged that the whole universe must have come from a single point. Astronomers assessing the validity of Hubble’s discovery were faced with the fact that this single point was a “metaphysical” state of reality in which there was an infinite gravitational attraction with no mass. Matter and time came into being by the explosion of this mass-less point. In other words, the universe was created from nothing.

John Maddox: His prophecy about the Big Bang utterly failed.
On the one hand, those astronomers who are determined to cling to materialist philosophy with its basic idea of an eternal universe, have attempted to hold out against the Big Bang theory and maintain the idea of an eternal universe. The reason for this effort can be seen in the words of Arthur Eddington, a renowned materialist physicist, who said, "Philosophically, the notion of an abrupt beginning to the present order of Nature is repugnant to me".4 But despite the fact that the Big Bang theory is repugnant to materialists, this theory has continued to be corroborated by concrete scientific discoveries. In their observations made in the 1960’s, two scientists, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, detected the radioactive remains of the explosion (cosmic background radiation). These observations were verified in the 1990’s by the COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer) satellite.

In the face of all these facts, atheists have been squeezed into a corner. Anthony Flew, an atheist professor of philosophy at the University of Reading and the author of Atheistic Humanism, makes this interesting confession:

Notoriously, confession is good for the soul. I will therefore begin by confessing that the Stratonician atheist has to be embarrassed by the contemporary cosmological consensus. For it seems that the cosmologists are providing a scientific proof of what St. Thomas contended could not be proved philosophically; namely, that the universe had a beginning. So long as the universe can be comfortably thought of as being not only without end but also without beginning, it remains easy to urge that its brute existence, and whatever are found to be its most fundamental features, should be accepted as the explanatory ultimates. Although I believe that it remains still correct, it certainly is neither easy nor comfortable to maintain this position in the face of the Big Bang story 5

An example of the atheist reaction to the Big Bang theory can be seen in an article written in 1989 by John Maddox, editor of Nature, one of the best-known materialist-scientific journals.

In that article, called “Down With the Big Bang,” Maddox wrote that the Big Bang is “philosophically unacceptable,” because “creationists and those of similar persuasions… have ample justification in the doctrine of the Big Bang.” He also predicted that the Big Bang “is unlikely to survive the decade ahead.” 6 However, despite Maddox’ hopes, Big Bang has gained credence and many discoveries have been made that prove the creation of the universe.

Some materialists have a relatively logical view of this matter. For example, the English materialist physicist, H.P. Lipson, unwillingly accepts the scientific fact of creation. He writes:

I think …that we must…admit that the only acceptable explanation is creation. I know that this is anathema to physicists, as indeed it is to me, but we must not reject that we do not like if the experimental evidence supports it. 7

Thus, the fact arrived at finally by modern astronomy is this: time and matter were brought into being by an eternally powerful Creator independent of both of them. The eternal power that created the universe in which we live is God who is the possessor of infinite might, knowledge and wisdom.

Physics and Astronomy:
The Collapse of the Idea of a Random Universe and
The Discovery of the Anthropic Principle

A second atheist dogma rendered invalid in the 20th century by discoveries in astronomy is the idea of a random universe. The view that the matter in the universe, the heavenly bodies and the laws that determine the relationships among them has no purpose but is the result of chance, has been dramatically discounted.

For the first time since the 1970’s, scientists have begun to recognize the fact that the whole physical balance of the universe is adjusted delicately in favor of human life. With the advance of research, it has been discovered that the physical, chemical and biological laws of the universe, basic forces such as gravity and electro-magnetism, the structure of atoms and elements are all ordered exactly as they have to be for human life. Western scientists have called this extraordinary design the “anthropic principle”. That is, every aspect of the universe is designed with a view to human life.

We may summarize the basics of the anthropic principle as follows:

The speed of the first expansion of the universe (the force of the Big Bang explosion) was exactly the velocity that it had to be. According to scientists’ calculations, if the expansion rate had differed from its actual value by more than one part in a billion billion, then the universe would either have recollapsed before it ever reached its present size or else have splattered in every direction in a way never to unite again. To put it another way, even at the first moment of the universe’s existence there was a fine calculation of the accuracy of a billion billionth.

The four physical forces in the universe (gravitational force, weak nuclear force, strong nuclear force, and electromagnetic force) are all at the necessary levels for an ordered universe to emerge and for life to exist. Even the tiniest variations in these forces (for example, one in 1039, or one in 1028; that is—crudely calculated—one in a billion billion billion billion), the universe would either be composed only of radiation or of no other element besides hydrogen.

There are many other delicate adjustments that make the earth ideal for human life: the size of the sun, its distance from the earth, the unique physical and chemical properties of water, the wavelength of the sun’s rays, the way that the earth’s atmosphere contains the gases necessary to allow respiration, or the Earth’s magnetic field being ideally suited to human life. (For more information on this topic, see Harun Yahya, The Creation of the Universe, Al-Attique Publishers, 2001)

This delicate balance is one of the most striking discoveries of modern astrophysics. The wellknown astronomer, Paul Davies, writes in the last paragraph of his book The Cosmic Blueprint, "The impression of Design is overwhelming."8

In an article in the journal Nature, the astrophysicist W. Press writes, "there is a grand design in the Universe that favors the development of intelligent life."9

The interesting thing about this is that the majority of the scientists that have made these discoveries were of the materialist point of view and came to this conclusion unwillingly. They did not undertake their scientific investigations hoping to find a proof for God’s existence. But most of them, if not all of them, despite their unwillingness, arrived at this conclusion as the only explanation for the extraordinary design of the universe.

In his book, The Symbiotic Universe the American astronomer, George Greenstein, acknowledges this fact:

How could this possibly have come to pass [that the laws of physics conform themselves to life]? …As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency—or, rather Agency—must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?10

By beginning his question with “Is it possible”, Greenstein, an atheist, tries to ignore that plain fact that has confronted him. But many scientists who have approached the question without prejudice acknowledge that the universe has been created especially for human life. Materialism is now being viewed as an erroneous belief outside the realm of science. The American geneticist, Robert Griffiths, acknowledges this fact when he says, “If we need an atheist for a debate, I go to the philosophy department. The physics department isn't much use.”11

In his book Nature’s Destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, which examines how physical, chemical and biological laws are amazingly calculated in an “ideal” way with a view to the requirements of human life, the well-known molecular biologist, Michael Denton writes:

The new picture that has emerged in twentieth-century astronomy presents a dramatic challenge to the presumption which has been prevalent within scientific circles during most of the past four centuries: that life is a peripheral and purely contingent phenomenon in the cosmic scheme.12

In short, the idea of a random universe, perhaps atheism’s most basic pillar, has been proved invalid. Scientists now openly speak of the collapse of materialism.13 The supposition whose falsity God reveals in the Qur’an, “We did not create heaven and earth and everything between them to no purpose. That is the opinion of those who disbelieve…” (Qur’an, 38: 27) was shown to be invalid by science in the 1970’s.

Quantum Physics and the Discovery of the Divine Wisdom
When scientists have gone deeper into the atom, they found it shockingly "empty".
One of the areas of science that shatters the materialist myth and gives positive evidence for theism is quantum physics.

Quantum physics deals with the tiniest particles of matter, what is called the sub-atomic realm. In school everyone learns that matter is composed of atoms. Atoms are made up of a nucleus and several electrons spinning around it. One strange fact is that all these particles take up only some 0.0001 percent of the atoms. In other words, an atom is something that is 99.9999 percent "empty."

An even more interesting fact is that when the nuclei and electrons are further examined, it has been realized that these are made up of much smaller particles called "quarks," and that these quarks are not particles in the physical sense, but simply energy. This discovery has broken the classical distinction between matter and energy. It now appears that in the material universe, only energy exists. What we call matter is just "frozen energy."

There is a still more intriguing fact: The quarks, those energy packets, act in such a way that they maybe described as "conscious." Physicist Freeman Dyson, on his acceptance of the Templeton Prize, stated that:

Atoms are weird stuff, behaving like active agents rather than inert substances. They make unpredictable choices between alternative possibilities according to the laws of quantum mechanics. It appears that mind, as manifested by the capacity to make choices, is to some extent inherent in every atom.14

What this means is that there is information behind matter. Information that precedes the material realm. Gerald Schroeder, an MIT-trained scientist who has worked in both physics and biology and author of the famous book The Science of God, makes a number of important comments on this subject. In his more recent book, The Hidden Face of God: Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth (2001), Schroeder explains that quantum physics—along with other branches of science—is the tool for discovering a universal wisdom that lies behind the material world. As he puts it:

It took humanity millennia before an Einstein discovered that, as bizarre as it may seem, the basis of matter is energy, that matter is actually condensed energy. It may take a while longer for us to discover that there is some non-thing even more fundamental than energy that forms the basis of energy, which in turn forms the basis of matter.15

John Archibald, professor of physics at Princeton University and recipient of the Einstein Award, explained the same fact when he said that the "bit" (the binary digit) of information gives rise to the "it," the substance of matter.16 According to Schroeder this has a "profound meaning":

The matter/energy relationships, the quantum wave functions, have profound meaning. Science may be approaching the realization that the entire universe is an expression of information, wisdom, an idea, just as atoms are tangible expressions of something as ethereal as energy.17

This wisdom is such an omniscient thing that covers the whole universe:

A single consciousness, a universal wisdom, pervades the universe. The discoveries of science, those that search the quantum nature of subatomic matter, have moved us to the brink of a startling realization: all existence is the expression of this wisdom. In the laboratories we experience it as information that first physically articulated as energy and then condensed into the form of matter. Every particle, every being, from atom to human, appears to represent a level of information, of wisdom.18

This means that the material universe is not a purposeless and chaotic heap of atoms, as the atheist/materialist dogma assumes, but is instead a manifestation of a wisdom which existed before the universe and which has absolute sovereignty over everything that exists. In Schroeder's words, it is "as if a metaphysical substrate was impressed upon the physical". 19

This discovery shatters the whole materialist myth and reveals that the material universe we see is just a shadow of a transcendent Absolute Being. Thus, as Schroeder explains, quantum physics has become the point where science and theology meet:

The age-old theological view of the universe is that all existence is the manifestation of a transcendent wisdom, with a universal consciousness being its manifestation. If I substitute the word information for wisdom, theology begins to sound like quantum physics. We may be witnessing the scientific confluence of the physical with the spiritual. 20

Quantum is really the point where science and theology meet. The fact that the whole universe is pervaded by a wisdom is a secret that was revealed in the Qur'an 14 centuries ago. One verse reads:

Your god is God alone, there is no god but Him. He encompasses all things in His knowledge. (Qur'an, 20:98)

The Natural Sciences: The Collapse of Darwinism and
The Triumph of Intelligent Design

Darwin: His theory is now refuted by a great deal of scientific evidence.
As we stated at the beginning, one of the main supports for the rise of atheism to its zenith in the 19th century was Darwin’s theory of evolution. With its assertion that the origin of human beings and all other living things lay in unconscious natural mechanisms, Darwinism gave atheists the opportunity they had been seeking for centuries. Therefore, Darwin’s theory had been adopted by the most passionate atheists of the time, and atheist thinkers such as Marx and Engels elucidated this theory as the basis of their philosophy. Since that time, the relationship between Darwinism and atheism has continued.

But, at the same time, this greatest support for atheism is the dogma that has received the greatest blow from scientific discoveries in the 20th century. The discoveries by various branches of science such as paleontology, biochemistry, anatomy and genetics have shattered the theory of evolution from various aspects. (See Harun Yahya, Evolution Deceit, 2000). We have dealt with this fact in much more detail in various other books and publications, but we may summarize it here as follows:

Paleontology: Darwin’s theory rests on the assumption that all species come from one single common ancestor and that they diverged from one another over a long period of time by small gradual changes. It is supposed that the proofs for this will be discovered in the fossil record, the petrified remains of living things. But fossil research conducted in the course of the 20th century has presented a totally different picture. The fossil of even a single undoubted intermediate species that would substantiate the belief in the gradual evolution of species has not been found. Moreover, every taxon appears suddenly in the fossil record and no trace has been found of any previous ancestors. The phenomenon known as the Cambrian Explosion is especially interesting. In this early geological period, nearly all of the phyla (major groups with significantly different body plans) of the animal kingdom suddenly appeared. This sudden emergence of many different categories of living things with totally different body structures and extremely complex organs and systems, including mollusks, arthropods, echinoderms and (as recently discovered) even vertebrates, is a major blow to Darwinism. For, as evolutionists also agree, the sudden appearance of a taxon implies supernatural design and this means creation.

Biological Observations: In elaborating his theory, Darwin relied on examples of how animal breeders produced a different variety of dogs or horses. He extrapolated the limited changes he observed in these cases to the whole of the natural world and proposed that every living thing could have come to be in this way from a common ancestor. But Darwin made this claim in the 19th century when the level of scientific sophistication was low. In the 20th century things have changed greatly. Decades of observation and experimentation on various species of animals have shown that variation in living things has never gone beyond certain genetic boundary. Darwin’s assertions, like “I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more and more aquatic in their habits, with larger and larger mouths, till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale.”21 actually demonstrates his great ignorance. On the other hand, observations and experiments have shown that mutations defined by Neo- Darwinism as an evolutionary mechanism add no new genetic information to living creatures.

The Origin of Life: Darwin spoke about a common ancestor but he never mentioned how this first common ancestor came to be. His only conjecture was that the first cell could have formed as a result of random chemical reactions “in some small warm little pond”.22 But evolutionary biochemists who undertook to close this hole in Darwinism met with frustration. All observations and experiments showed that it was, in a word, impossible for a living cell to arise within inanimate matter by random chemical reactions. Even the English atheist Nobel Prize-winner Fred Hoyle expressed that such a scenario "is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.”23

Intelligent Design: Scientists studying cells, the molecules that compose the cells, their remarkable organization within the body and the delicate order and plan in the organs are faced with proof of the fact that evolutionists strongly wish to reject: The world of living things is permeated by designs too complex to be found in any technological equipment. Intricate examples of design, including our eyes that are too superior to be compared to any camera, the wings of birds that have inspired flight technology, the complexly integrated system of the cells of living things and the remarkable information stored in DNA, have vitiated the theory of evolution which regards living things as the product of blind chance.

All these facts have squeezed Darwinism into a corner by the end of the 20th century. Today, in the United States and other Western countries, the theory of intelligent design is gaining everincreasing acceptance among scientists. Those who defend the idea of intelligent design say that Darwinism has been a great error in the history of science and that it came to be as the result of materialist philosophy’s being imposed on the scientific paradigm. Scientific discoveries show that there is a design in living things which proves creation. In short, science proves once more that God created all living things.

Psychology: The Collapse of Freudianism and the Acceptance of Faith

The representative of the 19th century atheist dogma in the field of psychology was the Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud. Freud proposed a psychological theory which rejected the existence of the soul and tried to explain the whole spiritual world of human beings in terms of sexual and similar hedonistic motivations. But Freud’s greatest assault was against religion.

Later studies showed that Freud's ideas, especially the ones about religion were totally flawed.
In his book The Future of an Illusion published in 1927, he proposed that religious faith was a kind of mental illness (neurosis) and that, as human beings progressed, religious faith would completely disappear. Due to the primitive scientific conditions of the time, the theory was proposed without the requisite research and investigation, and with no scholarly literature or possibility of comparison, and therefore, its claims were extremely deficient. Indeed, if Freud had the possibility of evaluating his propositions today, he would himself be surprised by the logical deficiency of his claims and he would be the first to criticize such senseless presuppositions.

After Freud, psychology developed on an atheist foundation. Not only Freud, but the founders of other schools of psychology in the 20th century were passionate atheists. Two of these were B.F. Skinner, the founder of the behaviorist school and Albert Ellis, founder of rational emotive therapy. The world of psychology ended up by becoming the forum for atheism. A 1972 poll among the members of the American Psychology Association revealed that only 1.1 percent of psychologists in the country had any religious beliefs.24

But most psychologists who fell into this great deception were undone by their own psychological investigations. It became known that the basic suppositions of Freudianism had almost no scientific support and, moreover, that religion was not a mental illness as Freud and some other psychological theorists declared, but a basic element of mental health. Patrick Glynn summarizes these important developments:

Yet the last quarter of the twentieth century has not been kind to the psychoanalytic vision. Most significant has been the exposure of Freud’s views of religion as entirely fallacious. Ironically enough, scientific research in psychology over the past twenty-five years has demonstrated that, far from being a neurosis or source of neuroses as Freud and his disciples claimed, religious belief is one of the most consistent correlates of overall mental health and happiness. Study after study has shown a powerful relationship between religious belief and practice, on the one hand, and healthy behaviors with regard to such problems as suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, divorce, depression, even, perhaps surprisingly, levels of sexual satisfaction in marriage, on the other. In short, the empirical data run exactly contrary to the supposedly “scientific” consensus of the psychotherapeutic profession.25

Finally, as Glynn says, “modern psychology at the close of the twentieth century seems to be reacquainting itself with religion”26 and “a purely secular view of human mental life has been shown to fail not just at the theoretical, but also at the practical, level.27

In other words, atheism has been routed also on the field of psychology.

Medicine: The Discovery of "How Hearts Find Peace"

Another branch of science that was affected by the collapse of atheist suppositions was medicine.

According to results compiled by David B. Larson and his team at the National Institute for Healthcare Research, a comparison among Americans in relation to church attendance yielded very interesting results. Risk of arteriosclerotic heart disease for men who attended church frequently was just 60 percent of that for men who were infrequent church attenders. Among women, suicide was twice as high among infrequent as among frequent church attenders; smokers who ranked religion as very important in their lives were over seven times less likely to have normal diastolic pressure readings than were those who did not.28

Secular psychologists generally explain such phenomena as having a psychological cause. In this sense, faith raises a person’s morale and contributes to his well-being. There may be some truth in this explanation, but if we look more closely we see something much more dramatic. Belief in God is much stronger than any other influence on the morale. In comprehensive research on the relationship between religious belief and physical health, Dr. Herbert Benson of the Harvard Medical School came up with some interesting results. Although he did not have any religious faith, Benson arrived at the result that faith in God and worship had a much more positive effect on human health than could be observed in anything else. Benson concludes that he has “found that faith quiets the mind like no other form of belief.”29

Why is there such a special relation between faith and human spirit and body? The result arrived at by Benson, who is a secular researcher, was, as he put it, that the human mind and body are “wired for God.”30

This fact, that the medical world is slowly beginning to notice, is a secret revealed in the Qur’an with the verse, “Only in the remembrance of God can the heart find peace.” (Qur’an, 13:28) The reason why those who believe in God, pray to Him and trust in Him are physically and mentally more healthy than others is that they behave in harmony with their nature. Philosophical systems opposed to human nature always bring pain, sorrow, anxiety and depression upon people.

The basic source of the peace experienced by a religious person is that he acts in order to gain God’s approval. In other words, this peace is the natural result of a person’s listening to the voice of his conscience. A person does not live the morality of religion simply “to be more at peace” or “to be healthier”; a person who acts with this intention cannot find peace in its true sense. God well knows that what a person stores in his heart or what he reveals. A person experiences peace of mind only by being sincere and attempting to gain God’s approval. God commands:

So set your face firmly towards the [true] religion, as a pure natural believer, God’s natural pattern on which He made mankind. There is no changing God’s creation. That is the true religion—but most people do not know it. (Qur’an, 30:30)

In the light of the discoveries that we have briefly indicated above, modern medicine is starting to become cognizant of this truth. As Patrick Glynn says, “contemporary medicine is clearly moving in the direction of acknowledging dimensions of healing beyond the purely material”.31

Society: The Fall of Communism, Fascism and the Hippie Dream

The collapse of atheism in the 20th century did not occur only in the fields of astrophysics, biology, psychology and medicine; it happened also in politics and social morality.

Communism may be considered the most important political result of 19th century atheism. The founders of this ideology, Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky or Mao, all adopted atheism as a basic principle. A primary goal of all communist regimes was to get society to adopt atheism and to destroy religious belief. Stalin’s Russia, Red China, Cambodia, Albania and some Eastern block countries applied immense pressure on religious people to the point of committing mass murder.

Yet, amazingly, at the end of the 1980s this bloody atheist system collapsed. When we examine the reasons for this dramatic fall, we see that what collapsed was actually atheism. Patrick Glynn writes:

To be sure, secular historians would say that the greatest mistake of Communism was to attempt to defy the laws of economics. But other laws, too, came into play… Moreover, as historians penetrate the circumstances of the Communist collapse, it is becoming clearer that the Soviet elite was itself in the throes of an atheistic “crisis of faith”. Having lived under an atheistic ideology—one that consisted of lies and that was based on a “Big Lie”— the Soviet system suffered a radical demoralization, in every sense of that term. People, including the ruling elite, lost all sense of morality and all sense of hope.32

An interesting indication of the Soviet system’s great “crisis of faith” was President Mihail Gorbachev’s attempts of reform. Since the time that he assumed the presidency, Gorbachev was interested in moral problems as well as economic reforms. For example, one of the first things he did was to initiate a campaign against alcoholism. In order to raise the morale of society, for a long time he used Marxist-Leninist terminology but he saw that this was of no use.

Gorbachev: His futile attempts could not heal the "crisis of faith" in the Soviet society.
Then, in the later years of the regime, he even began to mention God in some of his speeches, even though he himself was an atheist. Naturally, these insincere words of faith were of no use and the crisis of faith in Soviet society continued to worsen. The result was the collapse of the gigantic Soviet empire. The 20th century documented not only the fall of communism, but also that of another fruit of 19th century antireligious philosophy—fascism. Fascism is the outcome of a philosophy which may be called a mixture of atheism and paganism and which is intensely hostile to theistic religions. Friedrich Nietzsche, who may be called the father of fascism, extolled the morality of barbarous idolatrous societies, attacked Christianity and other monotheistic religions and even called himself the “Antichrist.” Nietzsche’s disciple, Martin Heidegger, was an avid Nazi supporter and the ideas of these two atheist thinkers gave impetus to the terrifying savagery of Nazi Germany. (The Holocaust, one of the greatest act of evil in human history, was the result of Nazi anti-Semitism, an ideology that hated Jews and the monotheistic faith that has been the cornerstone of Judaism—and also Islam.) The Second World War, that caused the death of 55 million people, is another example of the calamity that atheist ideologies like fascism and communism have brought upon humanity.

At this point, we must recall another atheist ideology—Social Darwinism—which was among the causes for the outbreak of both the First and the Second World Wars. In his book entitled Europe Since 1870, Harvard history professor James Joll states that behind each of the two world wars lay the philosophical views of Social Darwinist European leaders who believed in the myth that war was a biological necessity and that nations developed through conflict.33

In contrast with the theist and peaceful American Revolution, the French Revolution was atheist, neo-pagan and extremely violent.
Another social consequence of atheism in the 20th century appeared in Western democracies. In the present day there is a tendency to regard the West as the “Christian world.” However, since the 19th, century, a quickly growing atheist culture has held sway with Christian culture, and today there is a conflict between these two cultures in what we call Western civilization. And this atheist element has been the true cause of western imperialism, moral degeneration, despotism and other negative manifestations.

In his book God: The Evidence, the American writer Patrick Glynn draws attention to this matter and, in order to compare the God-fearing and atheist elements in the West, he takes the examples of the American and French Revolutions. The American Revolution was carried out by believers; American Declaration of Independence states that all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”. Since the French Revolution was the work of atheists, the French Declaration of Human Rights was very different, with no reference to God and full of atheist and neo-pagan notions.

The actual results of the two revolutions were quite different: in the American model, a peaceful, tolerant environment was created that respected religion and religious belief; in France the fierce hostility to religion drowned the country in blood and unleashed a savagery such as had never been seen before. As Glynn says, “there is an interesting historical correlation between atheism, on the one hand, and moral and political catastrophe, on the other hand.”34

Glynn notes that attempts to turn America into an atheist country have also caused harm to society. The fact that the sexual revolution (for example) that spread in the 60’s and 70’s caused immense social damage is accepted even by secular historians.35

John Lennon: The world he imagined —one without religion— did not bring a happy end, neither to him nor to his followers.
The hippie movement was a demonstration of this social damage. The hippies believed that they could find spiritual emancipation through secular humanist philosophy and by such things as unlimited drugs and sex. These young people who poured onto the streets with romantic songs—like John Lennon’s Imagine in which he spoke of a world “with no countries, and no religion too”—were actually undergoing a mass deception.

In fact, a world without religion actually brought them to an unhappy end. The hippy leaders of the 1960s either killed themselves or died from drug-induced comas in the early 1970s. Many other young hippies shared a similar fate.

Those young people of the same generation who turned to violence found themselves on the receiving end of violence. The 1968 generation, who turned their backs on God and religion and imagined they could find salvation in such concepts as revolution or selfish Epicureanism, ruined both themselves and their own societies.

The Dawn of the Post-Atheist World

The facts that we have briefly summarized to this point shows clearly that atheism is undergoing an inevitable collapse. In other words, humanity is — and will be — turning towards God. The truth of this assertion is not limited only to the scientific and political areas that we have written about here. From prominent statesmen to movie stars and pop artists, those who influence opinion in the West are much more religious than they used to be. There are many people who have seen the truth and come to believe in God after having lived for years as atheists. (Patrick Glynn from whose book we have quoted is one of these ex-atheists).

The fact that the developments which have contributed to this result began in the same period, that is from the second half of the 1970s, is quite interesting. The anthropic principle first appeared in the 1970s. Scientific criticism of Darwinism started to be loudly voiced at that same time. The turning point against the atheist dogma of Freud was a book entitled The Road Less Traveled published in 1978 by Scott Peck. For this reason, Glynn, in the 1997 edition of his book writes that “over the past twenty years, a significant body of evidence has emerged, shattering the foundations of the long-dominant modern secular worldview.”36

Surely, the fact that the atheist world-view has been shaken means that another world-view prevails, which is belief in God. Since the end of the 1970’s, (or, from the beginning of the 14th century according to the Muslim calendar) the world has seen a rise in religious values. Like other social processes, this does not happen in a day and the majority of people may not notice it because it has been developing over a long period of time. However, those who evaluate the development a little more carefully see that the world is at a major turning point in the realm of ideas.

Secular historians try to explain this process according to their own principles but just as they are in deep error with regard to the existence of God, so they are greatly mistaken about the course of history. In fact, as the following verse reveals, history moves as God as determined: “...You will not find any changing in the pattern of God. You will not find any alteration in the pattern of God.” (Qur’an, 35: 43) It follows, then, that history has a purpose and unfolds as God has commanded. And God’s command is the perfection of His light:

They desire to extinguish God’s Light with their mouths. But God refuses to do other than perfect His Light, even though the disbelievers detest it. (Qur’an, 9: 32)

This verse means that God has sent down His light upon humanity through the religion that He has revealed. Those who do not believe want to extinguish this light by their "mouths"— intimations, propaganda and philosophies, but God will finally perfect His light and give dominion to religious values on earth.

This may be the “turning point in history” mentioned at the beginning of this article as also indicated by the evidence we have provided here, as well as the implications of various hadiths and statements by scholars. Surely, God knows best.


We are living at an important time. Atheism, which people have tried for hundreds of years to portray as “the way of reason and science,” is proving to be mere irrationality and ignorance. Materialist philosophy that sought to use science for its own ends has been in turn defeated by science. A world rescuing itself from atheism will turn to God and religion. And this process has begun long ago.

It is clear that believers have important duties in this period. They must be aware of this major change in the world’s way of thinking, interpret it, make good use of the opportunities that globalization offers and effectively represent the truth along this road. They must know that the basic conflict of ideas in the world is between atheism and faith. It is not a struggle between East and West; in both East and West there are those who believe in God and those who do not. For this reason, faithful Christians, as well as faithful Jews are allies of Muslims. The main divergence is not between Muslims and the "People of the Book" (Jews and Christians), but between Muslims and the People of the Book on the one hand, and atheists and pagans on the other. Of course, we must not show hostility to such people but view them as people who need to be rescued from their error.

The time is fast approaching when many people who are living in ignorance with no knowledge of their Creator will be graced by faith in the impending post-atheist world.
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Default Muqadmah by Ibn-e-Khaldun

The Muqaddimah, or the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun (Arabic: مقدّمة ابن خلدون, Amazigh: Tazwarit n Ibn Xldun, "Introduction"), or the Prolegomena in Greek, is a book written by the North African historian Ibn Khaldun in 1377 which records an early Muslim view of universal history. Many modern thinkers view it as the first work dealing with the philosophy of history[1] and the social sciences[2] of sociology,[1][3] demography,[3] historiography,[4] and cultural history,[5] and a forerunner of modern economics.[6][7] The work also deals with Islamic theology and the natural sciences of biology and chemistry. Ibn Khaldun wrote the work in 1377 as the preface or first book of his planned world history, the Kitab al-Ibar (lit. Book of Advice), but already in his lifetime it became regarded as an independent work.

Ibn Khaldun starts the Muqaddimah with a thorough criticism of the mistakes regularly committed by his fellow historians and the difficulties which await the historian in his work. He notes seven critical issues:

"All records, by their very nature, are liable to error...

1....Partisanship towards a creed or opinion...
2....Over-confidence in one's sources...
3....The failure to understand what is intended...
4....A mistaken belief in the truth...
5....The inability to place an event in its real context
6....The common desire to gain favor of those of high ranks, by praising them, by spreading their fame...
7....The most important is the ignorance of the laws governing the transformation of human society."
Against the seventh point (the ignorance of social laws) Ibn Khaldun lays out his theory of human society in the Muqaddimah.

Sati' al-Husri suggested that Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddimah is essentially a sociological work, sketching over its six books a general sociology; a sociology of politics; a sociology of urban life; a sociology of economics; and a sociology of knowledge.

[edit] Scientific method
Ibn Khaldun often criticized "idle superstition and uncritical acceptance of historical data." As a result, he introduced the scientific method to the social sciences, which was considered something "new to his age", and he often referred to it as his "new science" and developed his own new terminology for it.[8]

His historical method also laid the groundwork for the observation of the role of state, communication, propaganda and systematic bias in history,[3] leading to his development of historiography.

[edit] Sociology
See also: Islamic sociology and Early Muslim sociology

[edit] 'Asabiyyah
Main article: Asabiyyah
The concept of "'asabiyyah" (Arabic "tribalism, clanism, modernly used for nationalism too" , a concept difficult to translate to English) is one of the most well-known aspects of the Muqaddimah. Prophet Muhamed defined Asabyyah as valuing the unworthy of your "people" above the worthy of those not your own.

Ibn Khaldun argues, effectively, that each dynasty has within itself the seeds of its own downfall. He explains that ruling houses tend to emerge on the peripheries of great empires and use the unity presented by those areas to their advantage in order to bring about a change in leadership. As the new rulers establish themselves at the center of their empire, they become increasingly lax and more concerned with maintaining their lifestyles. Thus, a new dynasty can emerge at the periphery of their control and effect a change in leadership, beginning the cycle anew.

Khaldun's central concept of asabiyah, or "social cohesion", seems to anticipate modern conceptions of social capital arising in social networks:

This cohesion arises spontaneously in tribes and other small kinship groups; and it can be intensified and enlarged by a religious ideology. Khaldun's analysis looks at how this cohesion carries groups to power but contains within itself the seeds - psychological, sociological, economic, political - of the group's downfall, to be replaced by a new group, dynasty or empire bound by a stronger (or at least younger and more vigorous) cohesion.

Interestingly, Khaldun's concept is instinctive and does not involve any social contract or explicit forms of constitution or other instructional capital that would provide a basis for appeals, in law or otherwise.

[edit] Conflict theory
Ibn Khaldun conceived both a central social conflict ("town" versus "desert") as well as a theory (using the concept of a "generation") of the necessary loss of power of city conquerors coming from the desert.

[edit] Similarities to modern sociology
The sociology of the Muqaddimah is more similar to the theories developed by Hegel or Marx in emphasizing dialectic or feedback loops, or systems theory as applied to fields such as corporate social responsibility, than to the theories of Durkheim and others who emphasized structures. There is a remarkable similarity between modern economic ideas and some ideas developed by Ibn Khaldun.

[edit] Economics
See also: Islamic economic jurisprudence and Islamic economics in the world

Statue of Ibn Khaldoun in TunisWhen civilization [population] increases, the available labor again increases. In turn, luxury again increases in correspondence with the increasing profit, and the customs and needs of luxury increase. Crafts are created to obtain luxury products. The value realized from them increases, and, as a result, profits are again multiplied in the town. Production there is thriving even more than before. And so it goes with the second and third increase. All the additional labor serves luxury and wealth, in contrast to the original labor that served the necessity of life. [9]
Ibn Khaldun on economic growth

Perhaps the most well known Islamic scholar who wrote about economics was Ibn Khaldun of Tunisia (1332–1406),[10] who is considered a father of modern economics.[11][12] Ibn Khaldun wrote on economic and political theory in the introduction, or Muqaddimah (Prolegomena), of his History of the World (Kitab al-Ibar). In the book, he discussed what he called asabiyyah (social cohesion), which he sourced as the cause of some civilizations becoming great and others not. Ibn Khaldun felt that many social forces are cyclic, although there can be sudden sharp turns that break the pattern.[13] His idea about the benefits of the division of labor also relate to asabiyya, the greater the social cohesion, the more complex the successful division may be, the greater the economic growth. He noted that growth and development positively stimulate both supply and demand, and that the forces of supply and demand are what determine the prices of goods.[14] He also noted macroeconomic forces of population growth, human capital development, and technological developments effects on development.[15] In fact, Ibn Khaldun thought that population growth was directly a function of wealth. [16]

Although he understood that money served as a standard of value, a medium of exchange, and a preserver of value, he did not realize that the value of gold and silver changed based on the forces of supply and demand.[17] Ibn Khaldun also introduced the labor theory of value. He described labor as the source of value, necessary for all earnings and capital accumulation, obvious in the case of craft. He argued that even if earning “results from something other than a craft, the value of the resulting profit and acquired (capital) must (also) include the value of the labor by which it was obtained. Without labor, it would not have been acquired.”[11]

His theory of asabiyyah has often been compared to modern Keynesian economics, with Ibn Khaldun's theory clearly containing the concept of the multiplier. A crucial difference, however, is that whereas for John Maynard Keynes it is the middle class's greater propensity to save that is to blame for economic depression, for Ibn Khaldun it is the governmental propensity to save at times when investment opportunities do not take up the slack which leads to aggregate demand.[18]

Another modern economic theory anticipated by Ibn Khaldun is supply-side economics.[19] He "argued that high taxes were often a factor in causing empires to collapse, with the result that lower revenue was collected from high rates." He wrote:[20]

"It should be known that at the beginning of the dynasty, taxation yields a large revenue from small assessments. At the end of the dynasty, taxation yields a small revenue from large assessments."

[edit] Laffer Curve
Ibn Khaldun introduced the concept popularly known as the Laffer Curve, that increases in tax rates initially increase tax revenues, but eventually increases in tax rates cause a decrease in tax revenues. This occurs as too high a tax rate discourages producers in the economy.

Ibn Khaldun used a dialectic approach to describe the sociological implications of tax choice (which now forms a part of economics theory):

"In the early stages of the state, taxes are light in their incidence, but fetch in a large revenue...As time passes and kings succeed each other, they lose their tribal habits in favor of more civilized ones. Their needs and exigencies grow...owing to the luxury in which they have been brought up. Hence they impose fresh taxes on their subjects...and sharply raise the rate of old taxes to increase their yield...But the effects on business of this rise in taxation make themselves felt. For business men are soon discouraged by the comparison of their profits with the burden of their taxes...Consequently production falls off, and with it the yield of taxation."

This analysis is very similar to the modern economic concept known as the Laffer Curve. Laffer does not claim to have invented the concept himself, instead attributing it to Ibn Khaldun, and more recently, to John Maynard Keynes.[21]

[edit] Historiography
See also: Historiography of early Islam and Sociology in medieval Islam
The first detailed studies on the subject of historiography itself and the first critiques on historical methods appeared in the works of the Arab Muslim historian and historiographer Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), who is regarded as the father of historiography, cultural history,[22] and the philosophy of history, especially for his historiographical writings in the Muqaddimah (Latinized as Prolegomena) and Kitab al-Ibar (Book of Advice).[23] His Muqaddimah also laid the groundwork for the observation of the role of state, communication, propaganda and systematic bias in history,[3] and he discussed the rise and fall of civilizations in his theory of Asabiyyah.

Franz Rosenthal wrote in the History of Muslim Historiography:

"Muslim historiography has at all times been united by the closest ties with the general development of scholarship in Islam, and the position of historical knowledge in MusIim education has exercised a decisive influence upon the intellectual level of historicai writing....The Muslims achieved a definite advance beyond previous historical writing in the sociological understanding of history and the systematisation of historiography. The development of modern historical writing seems to have gained considerably in speed and substance through the utilization of a Muslim Literature which enabled western historians, from the seventeenth century on, to see a large section of the world through foreign eyes. The Muslim historiography helped indirectly and modestly to shape present day historical thinking."[24]

[edit] Historical method
In the Muqaddimah, Ibn Khaldun warned of seven mistakes that he thought that historians regularly committed. In this criticism, he approached the past as strange and in need of interpretation. The originality of Ibn Khaldun was to claim that the cultural difference of another age must govern the evaluation of relevant historical material, to distinguish the principles according to which it might be possible to attempt the evaluation, and lastly, to feel the need for experience, in addition to rational principles, in order to assess a culture of the past. Ibn Khaldun often criticized "idle superstition and uncritical acceptance of historical data." As a result, he introduced a scientific method to the study of history, which was considered something "new to his age", and he often referred to it as his "new science", now associated with historiography.[25] His historical method also laid the groundwork for the observation of the role of state, communication, propaganda and systematic bias in history,[3] and he is thus considered to be the "father of historiography"[26][27] or the "father of the philosophy of history".[1]

Ibn Khaldun' makes the following comments on his scientific historical method in his Muqaddimah:[28]

1."History is a science"
2."History has a content and the historian should account for it"
3."The historian should account for the elements that gather to make the human history"
4."He should also work according to the laws of history"
5."History is a philosophical science"
6."History is composed of news about the days, states and the previous centuries. It is a theory, an analysis and justification about the creatures and their principles, and a science of how the incidents happen and their reasons"
7."Myths have nothing to do with history and should be refuted"
8."To build strong historical records, the historian should rely on necessary rules for the truth comparison"

[edit] Systematic bias
The Muqaddimah further emphasized the role of systemic bias in affecting the standard of evidence. Khaldun was quite concerned with the effect of raising the standard of evidence when confronted with uncomfortable claims, and relaxing it when given claims that seemed reasonable or comfortable. He was a jurist, and sometimes participated reluctantly in rulings that he felt were coerced, based on arguments he didn't respect. Besides al-Maqrizi (1364–1442),[28] Ibn Khaldun had few successors in his thinking about history until Arnold J. Toynbee, a 20th century British historian.

[edit] History of science
Ibn Khaldun discussed the history of science, and wrote the following on the history of Islamic science:

"The Muslims desired to learn the sciences of foreign nations. They made them their own through translations. They pressed them into the mould of their own views. They took them over into their own language from the non-Arab languages and surpassed the achievements of the non-Arabs in them."[29]

[edit] Islamic theology
The Muqaddimah contains discussions on Islamic theology which show that Ibn Khaldun was a follower of the orthodox Ash'ari school of Sunni Islamic thought and a supporter of al-Ghazali's orthodox religious views. He was also a critic of Neoplatonism, particularly its notion of a hierarchy of being. He argued that theosis requires the participation of revelation and is not possible through reason alone. He based his argument on the "irreducibility of the empirical nature of our knowledge of facts, which cannot then be converted into abstract and pure concepts at a higher level of human consciousness."[30]

The Muqaddimah covers the historical development of kalam and the different schools of Islamic thought, notably the Mu'tazili and Ash'ari schools. Ibn Khaldun, being a follower of the orthodox Ash'ari school, criticizes the views of the Mu'tazili school, and bases his criticisms on the views of Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari, whom he describes as "the mediator between different approaches in the kalam." Ibn Khaldun also covers the historical development of Islamic logic in the context of theology, as he viewed logic as being distinct from early Islamic philosophy, and believed that philosophy should remain separate from theology. The book also contains commentaries on verses from the Qur'an.[31]

[edit] Science of hadith
Ibn Khaldun discussed the science of hadith. He disagreed with the use of reason in the evaluation of a hadith, arguing that "there is no place for the intellect in them, save that the intellect may be used in connection with them to relate problems of detail with basic principles."[32]

[edit] Natural sciences

[edit] Biology
Ibn Khaldun wrote the following on the biological theory of evolution:[33]

"This world with all the created things in it has a certain order and solid construction. It shows nexuses between causes and things caused, combinations of some parts of creation with others, and transformations of some existent things into others, in a pattern that is both remarkable and endless."

"One should then take a look at the world of creation. It started out from the minerals and progressed, in an ingenious, gradual manner, to plants and animals. The last stage of minerals is connected with the first stage of plants, such as herbs and seedless plants. The last stage of plants, such as palms and vines, is connected with the first stage of animals, such as snails and shellfish which have only the power of touch. The word 'connection' with regard to these created things means that the last stage of each group is fully prepared to become the first stage of the newest group."

"The animal world then widens, its species become numerous, and, in a gradual process of creation, it finally leads to man, who is able to think and reflect. The higher stage of man is reached from the world of monkeys, in which both sagacity and preception are found, but which has not reached the stage of actual reflection and thinking. At this point we come to the first stage of man. This is as far as our (physical) observation extends."

Ibn Khaldun was also an adherent of environmental determinism. He explained that black skin was due to the hot climate of sub-Saharan Africa and not due to their lineage. He thus dispelled the Hamitic theory, where the sons of Ham were cursed by being black, as a myth.[34]

[edit] Chemistry
Ibn Khaldun was a critic of the practice of alchemy in the Islamic world. In chapter 23 of his work, entitled Fi 'ilm al-kimya, he discussed the history of alchemy, the views of alchemists such as Geber,[35] and the theories of the transmutation of metals and elixir of life.[36] In chapter 26, entitled Fi inkar thamrat al-kimya wa istihalat wujudiha wa ma yansha min al-mafasid, he wrote a systematic refutation of alchemy on social,[35] scientific, philosophical and religious grounds.[37]

He begins his refutation on social grounds, arguing that many alchemists are incapable of earning a living because of the thought of becoming rich through alchemy and end up "losing their credibility because of the futility of their attempts".[38]

He also argues that some alchemists resort to fraud, either openly by applying a thin layer of gold/silver on top of silver/copper jewellery, or secretly using an artificial procedure of covering whitened copper with sublimated mercury, though only skilled experimenters can carry out the latter. He admits, however, that most alchemists are honest and carry out their investigations in good faith with the belief that the transmutation of metals is possible, but on the basis that there has never been any successful attempt to date, he argues that transmutation is an implausible theory without any reliable scientific evidence to support it. He reports the earlier opinions of al-Farabi, Avicenna and al-Tughrai on alchemy, and then proceeds to advance his own arguments against it. One such argument is that "human science is powerless even to attain what is inferior to it" and that alchemy "resembles someone who wants to produce a man, an animal or a plant." Another sociological argument he uses is that, even if transmutation were possible, the disproportionate growth of gold and silver "would make transactions useless and would run counter to divine wisdom." He ends his arguments with a restatement of his position:[36]

"Alchemy can only be achieved through psychic influences (bi-ta'thirat al-nufus). Extraordinary things are either miracles of witchcraft... They are unbounded; nobody can claim to acquire them."[39]

[edit] Political theory
The Muqaddimah deals with various questions of political theory which in many ways can be seen as taking from Aristotle, and preceding Machiavelli and Hobbes.

In the Muqaddimah's Introductory Remarks, Ibn Khaldun agrees with the Aristotelian proposition that man is political by nature, and that man's interdependence creates the need for the political community. Yet Ibn Khaldun argues, like Hobbes later, that men and tribes need to defend themselves from potential attack by beast or even unjust men, and thus political communities are formed. The glue which holds such tribes together and eventually forms "royal authority" or the state, according to Ibn Khaldun, is 'asabiyah or group feeling. Ibn Khaldun argues that the best type of political community is the Caliphate or the Islamic state, and argues that the neo-Platonist political theories of al-Farabi, and Ibn Sina and the "perfect state" (Madina al-Fadilah) are useless as God's Law, the sharia has been revealed to take account of public interest and the afterlife. The second most perfect state, Ibn Khaldun argues, is one based on justice and consideration for public welfare in this life, but not based on religious law and so not beneficial to one's afterlife. Ibn Khaldun calls this state blameworthy. Yet the worst type of state, according to Ibn Khaldun, is a tyranny wherein government usurps property rights and rules with injustice against the rights of men.

Ibn Khaldun also precedes Machiavelli by attempting to answer the question on whether it is better for the ruler to be feared or loved? Ibn Khaldun, like Machiavelli, answers that it is best to be both, but if that was not possible then it is better to be loved than feared because fear creates many negative effects in the state's population.

Ibn Khaldun writes that civilizations have lifespans like individuals, and that every state will eventually fall because sedentary luxuries distract them, and eventually government begins to overtax citizens and begin injustice against property rights, Ibn Khaldun writes "injustice ruins civilization." Eventually after one dynasty or royal authority falls, it is replaced by another, in a continuous cycle.

The British philosopher-anthropologist Ernest Gellner considered Ibn Khaldun's definition of government, "an institution which prevents injustice other than such as it commits itself", the best in the history of political theory.[40]

[edit] Sharia law and Fiqh jurisprudence
Ibn Khaldun was an Islamic jurist and discussed the topics of Sharia (Islamic law) and Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) in his Muqaddimah. Ibn Khaldun wrote that "Jurisprudence is the knowledge of the classification of the laws of God." In regards to jurisprudence, he acknowledged the inevitability of change in all aspects of a community, and wrote:[41]

"The conditions, customs and beliefs of peoples and nations do not indefinitely follow the same pattern and adhere to a constant course. There is rather, change with days and epochs, as well as passing from one state to another... such is the law of God that has taken place with regard to His subjects."

Ibn Khaldun further described Fiqh jurisprudence as "knowledge of the rules of God which concern the actions of persons who own themselves bound to obey the law respecting what is required (wajib), forbidden (haraam), recommended (mandūb), disapproved (makruh) or merely permitted (mubah)."[42]

[edit] Assessment on different civilizations
Ibn Khaldūn's assessment on different civilizations in relationship to their habitation and way of life has drawn the attention of some scholars.[citation needed]

While discussing his "new science", now associated with the social sciences, he states that no other author before him, as far as he was aware, wrote on this new science. However, he was aware that much knowledge of the past has been lost, thus he was open to the possibility that someone may have possibly anticipated him but that their work hasn't survived if that were the case. He states:

(The subject) is in a way an independent science with its own peculiar object—that is, human civilization and social organization…In a way it is an entirely original science. In fact, I have not come across a discussion along these lines by anyone. I do not know if this is because people have been unaware of it, but there is no reason to suspect them of having been unaware of it. Perhaps they have written exhaustively on this topic, and their work did not reach us. There are many sciences. There have been numerous sages among the nations of mankind. The knowledge that has not come down to us is larger than the knowledge that has. Where are the sciences of the Persians that ‘Umar ordered to be wiped out at the time of the conquest? Where are the sciences of the Chaladaeans, the Syrians and the Babylonians, and the scholarly products and results that were theirs? Where are the sciences of the Copts, their predecessors? The sciences of only one nation, the Greeks, have come down to us, because they were translated through Al-Ma'mun's efforts. He was successful in this direction because he had many translators at his disposal and spent much money in this connection.[43]
On the Greek philosopher Aristotle's contributions to science and philosophy:

Eventually, Aristotle appeared among the Greeks. He improved the methods of logic and systematized its problems and details. He assigned to logic its proper place as the first philosophical discipline and the introduction to philosophy. Therefore he is called the First Teacher.[44]
On the culture of Bedouin nomads, which Ibn Khaldun uses the term Aarabs (not to be confused with Arabs which can refer to all kinds of Arabic-speaking peoples) to refer to, Ibn Khaldūn writes:

Aarabs dominate only of the plains, because they are, by their savage nature, people of pillage and corruption. They pillage everything that they can take without fighting or taking risks, then flee to their refuge in the wilderness, and do not stand and do battle unless in self-defense. So when they encounter any difficulty or obstacle, they leave it alone and look for easier prey. And tribes well-fortified against them on the slopes of the hills escape their corruption and destruction, because they prefer not to climb hills, nor expend effort, nor take risks.'[45]
On the Jewish civilization:

(Unlike Muslims), the other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty to them, save only for purposes of defence... They are merely required to establish their religion among their own people. This is why the Israelites after Moses and Joshua remained unconcerned with royal authority for about four hundred years. Their only concern was to establish their religion... The Israelites dispossessed the Canaanites of the land that God had given them as their heritage in Jerusalem and the surrounding region, as it had been explained to them through Moses. The nations of the Philistines, the Canaanites, the Armenians, the Edomites, the Ammonites, and the Moabites fought against them. During that time political leadership was entrusted to the elders among them. The Israelites remained in that condition for about four hundred years. They did not have any royal power and were harassed by attacks from foreign nations. Therefore, they asked God through Samuel, one of their prophets, that he permit them to make someone king over them. Thus, Saul became their king. He defeated the foreign nations and killed Goliath, the ruler of Philistines. After Saul, David became king, and then Solomon. His kingdom flourished and extended to the borders of the land of the Hijaz and further to the borders of Yemen and to the borders of the land of the Byzantines. After Solomon, the tribes split into two dynasties. One of the dynasties was that of the ten tribes in the region of Nablus, the capital of which is Samaria (Sabastiyah), and the other that of the children of Judah and Benjamin in Jerusalem. Their royal authority had had an uninterrupted duration of a thousand years.[46]
On the Arab conquests of the 7th century:

Religious propaganda gives a dynasty at its beginning another power in addition to that of the group feeling it possessed as the result of the number of its supporters... This happened to the Arabs at the beginning of Islam during the Muslim conquests. The armies of the Muslims at al-Qadisiyah and at the Yarmuk numbered some 30,000 in each case, while the Persian troops at al-Qadisiyah numbered 120,000, and the troops of Heraclius, according to al-Waqidi, 400,000. Neither of the two parties was able to withstand the Arabs, who routed them and seized what they possessed. [47]
Ibn Khaldūn's description of the various Sub-Saharan African states:

The Western Sahel:

The first section of the first zone contains the mouth of the Nile which has its origin in the Mountain of the Qumr, as we have mentioned. (This Nile) is called the Sudanese Nile. It flows toward the Surrounding Sea and into it at the island of Awlil.63 The city of Sila, Takrur, and Ghanah are situated along this Nile. At this time, all of them belong to the Mali people, a Zanj nation. Moroccan merchants travel to their country. Close to it in the north is the country of the Lamtunah and of the other groups of the Veiled Berbers (Sinhajah), as well as the deserts in which they roam. To the south of this Nile, there is a Zanj people called Lamlam. They are unbelievers. They brand themselves on the face and temples. The people of Ghanah and Takrur invade their country, capture them, and sell them to merchants who transport them to the Maghrib. There, they constitute the ordinary mass of slaves. Beyond them to the south, there is no civilization in the proper sense. There are only humans who are closer to dumb animals than to rational beings.

In the middle of the first zone along the Nile, lie the countries of the Nubah and the Abyssinians and some of the oases down to Assuan. A settled part of the Nubah country is the city of Dongola, west of the Nile. Beyond it are 'Alwah 83 and Yulaq.84 Beyond them, a six days' journey north of Yulaq, is the mountain of the cataracts. This is a mountain which rises to a great height on the Egyptian side but is much less elevated on the side of the country of the Nubah, The Nile cuts through it and flows down precipitately in tremendous cascades for a long distance. Boats cannot get through. Cargoes from the Sudanese boats are taken off and carried on pack animals to Assuan at the entrance to Upper Egypt. In the same way, the cargoes of the boats from Upper Egypt are carried over the cataracts. The distance from the cataracts to Assuan is a twelve day's journey. The oases on the west bank of the Nile there are now in ruins. They show traces of ancient settlement.
Abyssinia (Ethiopia):

In the middle of the first zone, in its fifth section, is the country of the Abyssinians, through which a river flows, which comes from beyond the equator and 85 flows toward the land of the Nubah, where it flows into the Nile and so on down into Egypt. Many people have held fantastic opinions about it and thought that it was part of the Nile of the Qumr (Mountain of the Moon). Ptolemy mentioned it in the Geography. He mentioned that it did not belong to the Nile. [48]

[edit] Hadith of Persians and belief
Ibn Khaldūn expresses a great admiration for the Persians and their sedentary culture:

"It is a remarkable fact that, with few exceptions, most Muslim scholars both in the religious and intellectual sciences have been non-Arabs."[49][50]

Some of the content in the book is also related to the "Hadith of Persians and belief":

"Thus the founders of grammar were Sibawaih and after him, al-Farisi and Az-Zajjaj. All of them were of Persian descent…they invented rules of (Arabic) grammar…great jurists were Persians… only the Persians engaged in the task of preserving knowledge and writing systematic scholarly works. Thus the truth of the statement of the prophet becomes apparent, "If learning were suspended in the highest parts of heaven the Persians would attain it"…The intellectual sciences were also the preserve of the Persians, left alone by the Arabs, who did not cultivate them…as was the case with all crafts…This situation continued in the cities as long as the Persians and Persian countries, Iraq, Khorasan and Transoxiana, retained their sedentary culture."

Here he uses the term "Arabs" to refer to the nomadic Bedouins of the Arabian Peninsula (not including Arabized populations), and "Persians" to refer to the sedentary Persian culture of the Iranian plateau (including all Iranian peoples). Also note that in medieval Islamic literature, there were two regions known as Iraq: the Iraq-e-Arab (Arab Iraq) and the Iraq-e-Ajam (Persian Iraq). The Persian Iraq mentioned by Ibn Khaldun is the historic Iraq-e-Ajam (Persian Iraq) which constitutes the triangle of Isfahan, Shiraz and Hamadan.
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Default Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy is the structure and set of regulations in place to control activity, usually in large organizations and government. As opposed to adhocracy, it is represented by standardized procedure (rule-following) that dictates the execution of most or all processes within the body, formal division of powers, hierarchy, and relationships. In practice the interpretation and execution of policy can lead to informal influence.

Bureaucracy is a concept in sociology and political science referring to the way that the administrative execution and enforcement of legal rules are socially organized. Four structural concepts are central to any definition of bureaucracy:

1.a well-defined division of administrative labor among persons and offices,
2.a personnel system with consistent patterns of recruitment and stable linear careers,
3.a hierarchy among offices, such that the authority and status are differentially distributed among actors, and
4.formal and informal networks that connect organizational actors to one another through flows of information and patterns of cooperation.
Examples of everyday bureaucracies include governments, armed forces, corporations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), hospitals, courts, ministries and schools.

While the concept as such existed at least from the early forms of nationhood in ancient times, the word "bureaucracy" itself stems from the word "bureau", used from the early 18th century in Western Europe not just to refer to a writing desk, but to an office, i.e., a workplace, where officials worked. The original French meaning of the word bureau was the baize used to cover desks. The term bureaucracy came into use shortly before the French Revolution of 1789, and from there rapidly spread to other countries. The Greek suffix - kratia or kratos - means "power" or "rule".

In a letter of July 1, 1790, the German Baron von Grimm declared: "We are obsessed by the idea of regulation, and our Masters of Requests refuse to understand that there is an infinity of things in a great state with which a government should not concern itself." Jean Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay sometimes used to say, "We have an illness in France which bids fair to play havoc with us; this illness is called bureaumania." Sometimes he used to refer to a fourth or fifth form of government under the heading of "bureaucracy".

In another letter of July 15, 1765 Baron Grimm wrote also, "The real spirit of the laws in France is that bureaucracy of which the late Monsieur de Gournay used to complain so greatly; here the offices, clerks, secretaries, inspectors and intendants are not appointed to benefit the public interest, indeed the public interest appears to have been established so that offices might exist."[1]

This quote refers to a traditional controversy about bureaucracy, namely the perversion of means and ends so that means become ends in themselves, and the greater good is lost sight of; as a corollary, the substitution of sectional interests for the general interest. The suggestion here is that, left uncontrolled, the bureaucracy will become increasingly self-serving and corrupt, rather than serving society.

Perhaps the early example of a bureaucrat is the scribe, who first arose as a professional on the early cities of Sumer. The Sumerian script was so complicated that it required specialists who had trained for their entire lives in the discipline of writing to manipulate it. These scribes could wield significant power, as they had a total monopoly on the keeping of records and creation of inscriptions on monuments to kings.

In later, larger empires like Achaemenid Persia, bureaucracies quickly expanded as government expanded and increased its functions. In the Persian Empire, the central government was divided into administrative provinces led by satraps. The satraps were appointed by the Shah to control the provinces. In addition, a general and a royal secretary were stationed in each province to supervise troop recruitment and keep records, respectively. The Achaemenid Great Kings also sent royal inspectors to tour the empire and report on local conditions.

The most modernesque of all ancient bureaucracies, however, was the Chinese bureaucracy. During the chaos of the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States, Confucius recognized the need for a stable system of administrators to lend good governance even when the leaders were inept. Chinese bureaucracy, first implemented during the Qin dynasty but under more Confucian lines under the Han, calls for the appointment of bureaucratic positions based on merit via a system of examinations. Although the power of the Chinese bureaucrats waxed and waned throughout China's long history, the imperial examination system lasted as late as 1905, and modern China still employs a formidable bureaucracy in its daily workings.

Modern bureaucracies arose as the government of states grew larger during the modern period, and especially following the Industrial Revolution. Tax collectors, perhaps the most reviled of all bureaucrats, became increasingly necessary as states began to take in more and more revenue, while the role of administrators increased as the functions of government multiplied. Along with this expansion, though, came the recognition of the corruption and nepotism often inherent within the managerial system, leading to civil service reform on a large scale in many countries towards the end of the 19th century.

In Karl Marx's and Friedrich Engels's theory of historical materialism, the historical origin of bureaucracy is to be found in four sources: religion, the formation of the state, commerce and technology.

Thus, the earliest bureaucracies consisted of castes of religious clergy, officials and scribes operating various rituals, and armed functionaries specifically delegated to keep order. In the historical transition from primitive egalitarian communities to a civil society divided into social classes and estates, beginning from about 10,000 years ago, authority is increasingly centralized in, and enforced by a state apparatus existing separately from society. This state formulates, imposes and enforces laws, and levies taxes, giving rise to an officialdom enacting these functions. Thus, the state mediates in conflicts among the people and keeps those conflicts within acceptable bounds; it also organizes the defense of territory. Most importantly, the right of ordinary people to carry and use weapons of force becomes increasingly restricted; in civil society, forcing other people to do things becomes increasingly the legal right of the state authorities only.[2]

But the growth of trade and commerce adds a new, distinctive dimension to bureaucracy, insofar as it requires the keeping of accounts and the processing/recording of transactions, as well as the enforcement of legal rules governing trade. If resources are increasingly distributed by prices in markets, this requires extensive and complex systems of record-keeping, management and calculation, conforming to legal standards. Eventually, this means that the total amount of work involved in commercial administration outgrows the total amount of work involved in government administration. In modern capitalist society, private sector bureaucracy is larger than government bureaucracy, if measured by the number of administrative workers in the division of labor as a whole. Some corporations nowadays have a turnover larger than the national income of whole countries, with large administrations supervising operations.

A fourth source of bureaucracy Marxists have commented on inheres in the technologies of mass production, which require many standardized routines and procedures to be performed. Even if mechanization replaces people with machinery, people are still necessary to design, control, supervise and operate the machinery. The technologies chosen may not be the ones that are best for everybody, but which create incomes for a particular class of people or maintain their power. This type of bureaucracy is nowadays often called a technocracy, which owes its power to control over specialized technical knowledge or control over critical information.

In Marx's theory, bureaucracy rarely creates new wealth by itself, but rather controls, co-ordinates and governs the production, distribution and consumption of wealth. The bureaucracy as a social stratum derives its income from the appropriation of part of the social surplus product of human labor. Wealth is appropriated by the bureaucracy by law through fees, taxes, levies, tributes, licensing etc.

Bureaucracy is therefore always a cost to society, but this cost may be accepted insofar as it makes social order possible, and maintains it by enforcing the rule of law. Nevertheless there are constant conflicts about this cost, because it has the big effect on the distribution of incomes; all producers will try to get the maximum return from what they produce, and minimize administrative costs. Typically, in epochs of strong economic growth, bureaucracies proliferate; when economic growth declines, a fight breaks out to cut back bureaucratic costs.[citation needed]

Whether or not a bureaucracy as a social stratum can become a genuine ruling class depends greatly on the prevailing property relations and the mode of production of wealth. In capitalist society, the state typically lacks an independent economic base, finances many activities on credit, and is heavily dependent on levying taxes as a source of income. Therefore, its power is limited by the costs which private owners of the productive assets will tolerate.[citation needed] If, however, the state owns the means of production itself, defended by military power, the state bureaucracy can become much more powerful, and act as a ruling class or power elite. Because in that case, it directly controls the sources of new wealth, and manages or distributes the social product. This is the subject of Marxist theories of bureaucratic collectivism.

Marx himself however never theorized this possibility in detail, and it has been the subject of much controversy among Marxists. The core organizational issue in these disputes concerns the degree to which the administrative allocation of resources by government authorities and the market allocation of resources can achieve the social goal of creating a more free, just and prosperous society. Which decisions should be made by whom, at what level, so that an optimal allocation of resources results? This is just as much a moral-political issue as an economic issue.

Central to the Marxian concept of socialism is the idea of workers' self-management, which assumes the internalization of a morality and self-discipline among people that would make bureaucratic supervision and control redundant, together with a drastic reorganization of the division of labor in society. Bureaucracies emerge to mediate conflicts of interest on the basis of laws, but if those conflicts of interest disappear (because resources are allocated directly in a fair way), bureaucracies would also be redundant.

Marx's critics are however skeptical of the feasibility of this kind of socialism, given the continuing need for administration and the rule of law, as well as the propensity of people to put their own self-interest before the communal interest. That is, the argument is that self-interest and the communal interest might never coincide, or, at any rate, can always diverge significantly.

Max Weber
Max Weber has probably been one of the most influential users of the word in its social science sense. He is well-known for his study of bureaucratization of society; many aspects of modern public administration go back to him; a classic, hierarchically organized civil service of the continental type is — if perhaps mistakenly — called Weberian civil service several different years between 1818 and 1860, prior to Weber's birth in 1864.

Weber described the ideal type bureaucracy in positive terms, considering it to be a more rational and efficient form of organization than the alternatives that preceded it, which he characterized as charismatic domination and traditional domination. According to his terminology, bureaucracy is part of legal domination. However, he also emphasized that bureaucracy becomes inefficient when a decision must be adopted to an individual case.

According to Weber, the attributes of modern bureaucracy include its impersonality, concentration of the means of administration, a leveling effect on social and economic differences and implementation of a system of authority that is practically indestructible.

Weber's analysis of bureaucracy concerns:

the historical and administrative reasons for the process of bureaucratization (especially in the Western civilisation)
the impact of the rule of law upon the functioning of bureaucratic organisations
the typical personal orientation and occupational position of a bureaucratic officials as a status group
the most important attributes and consequences of bureaucracy in the modern world
A bureaucratic organization is governed by the following seven principles:

1.official business is conducted on a continuous basis
2.official business is conducted with strict accordance to the following rules:
1.the duty of each official to do certain types of work is delimited in terms of impersonal criteria
2.the official is given the authority necessary to carry out his assigned functions
3.the means of coercion at his disposal are strictly limited and conditions of their use strictly defined
3.every official's responsibilities and authority are part of a vertical hierarchy of authority, with respective rights of supervision and appeal
4.officials do not own the resources necessary for the performance of their assigned functions but are accountable for their use of these resources
5.official and private business and income are strictly separated
6.offices cannot be appropriated by their incumbents (inherited, sold, etc.)
7.official business is conducted on the basis of written documents
A bureaucratic official:

is personally free and appointed to his position on the basis of conduct
exercises the authority delegated to him in accordance with impersonal rules, and his or her loyalty is enlisted on behalf of the faithful execution of his official duties
appointment and job placement are dependent upon his or her technical qualifications
administrative work is a full-time occupation
work is rewarded by a regular salary and prospects of advancement in a lifetime career
An official must exercise his or her judgment and his or her skills, but his or her duty is to place these at the service of a higher authority; ultimately he/she is responsible only for the impartial execution of assigned tasks and must sacrifice his or her personal judgment if it runs counter to his or her official duties.

Weber's work has been continued by many, like Robert Michels with his Iron Law of Oligarchy.

As Max Weber himself noted, real bureaucracy will be less optimal and effective than his ideal type model. Each of Weber's seven principles can degenerate:[citation needed]

Competences can be unclear and used contrary to the spirit of the law; sometimes a decision itself may be considered more important than its effect;
Nepotism, corruption, political infighting and other degenerations can counter the rule of impersonality and can create a recruitment and promotion system not based on meritocracy but rather on oligarchy;
Even a non-degenerated bureaucracy can be affected by common problems:

Overspecialization, making individual officials not aware of larger consequences of their actions
Rigidity and inertia of procedures, making decision-making slow or even impossible when facing some unusual case, and similarly delaying change, evolution and adaptation of old procedures to new circumstances;
A phenomenon of group thinking - zealotry, loyalty and lack of critical thinking regarding the organisation which is perfect and always correct by definition, making the organisation unable to change and realise its own mistakes and limitations;
Disregard for dissenting opinions, even when such views suit the available data better than the opinion of the majority;
A phenomenon of Catch-22 (named after a famous book by Joseph Heller) - as bureaucracy creates more and more rules and procedures, their complexity rises and coordination diminishes, facilitating creation of contradictory and recursive rules
Not allowing people to use common sense, as everything must be as is written by the law.
In the most common examples bureaucracy can lead to the treatment of individual human beings as impersonal objects. This process has been criticised by many philosophers and writers (Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Hannah Arendt) and satirized in the comic strip Dilbert,TV show The Office, Franz Kafka's novels The Trial and The Castle , Douglas Adams' story The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and the films Brazil and Office Space.

Michel Crozier
Michel Crozier wrote The Bureaucratic Phenomenon[3] (1964) as a re-examination of Weber's (1922) concept of the efficient ideal bureaucracy in the light of the way that bureaucratic organizations had actually developed. Where as for Weber, bureaucracy was the ultimate expression of a trend toward the efficient, rational organization, Crozier examined bureaucracy as a form of organization that evokes:

"... the slowness, the ponderousness, the routine, the complication of procedures and the maladapted responses of the bureaucratic organization to the needs which they should satisfy" (Crozier, 1964, p 3)

He examined a number of culturally specific examples of bureaucratic organizations in an attempt to understand why bureaucracies so often became dysfunctional.

After reviewing the different ways in which the term is used, Crozier describes the sense in which he uses the term bureaucracy thus:

"A bureaucratic organization is an organization that can not correct its behaviour by learning from its errors" (Crozier, 1964, p 187)


"... not only a system that does not correct its behaviour in view of its errors; it is also too rigid to adjust, without crises, to the transformations that the accelerated evolution of the industrial society makes more and more imperative" (Crozier, 1964, p 198)

In essence, Crozier presents an argument against the Tayloristic notion of 'the one best way' to organize an activity and Weber's view of bureaucracy as the ultimate expression of rationality and efficiency. He notes that in 1964 'advanced organizations' had already:

"... been obliged to discard completely the notion of the one best way [and] are beginning to understand that the illusion of perfect rationality has to long persisted, weakening the possibilities of action by insisting on rigorous logic and immediate coherence" (Crozier, 1964, p 159)

From his analysis of his case studies, he develops a theory of bureaucratic dysfunction based on his observations. Although he later extends his ideas to cover other settings, the two main cases on which he bases his theory are both located in France: "The Clerical Agency" and "The Industrial Monopoly". Crozier chose these examples not only because he was French, but also because he claims that socially and culturally France has developed in such a way that it created organizations that closely resembled the Weberian notion of an ideal bureaucracy.

His theory is based on the observation that in situations where almost every outcome has been decided in advance according to a set of impersonal and predefined rules and regulations, the only way in which people are able to gain some control over their lives is to exploit 'zones of uncertainty' where the outcomes are not already known.

"[an] unintended consequence of rationalisation [is] the predictability of ones behaviour is the sure test of ones own inferiority" (Crozier, 1964, p158)

For Crozier, organizations are not autonomous entities but social constructs that are:

"... man made and socially created [and] the indirect result of the power struggles within the organization" (Crozier, 1964, p 162)

Attacking both the rationalists and the human relations school for ignoring the role that such power struggles play in the shaping of an organization he argues that organizational relations are in fact a series of strategic games where the protagonists attempt either to exploit any areas of discretion for their own ends, or to prevent others from gaining an advantage:

"Each group fights to preserve and enlarge the area upon which it has some discretion, attempts to limit its dependence upon other groups and accept such dependence only insofar as it is a safeguard ... [preferring] retreatisim if there is no other choice but submission" (Crozier, 1964, p 156)

The result of this is that goals are subverted and the organization becomes locked into a series of inward looking power struggles. Thus, paradoxically, the result of attempting to design an efficient organization that runs on rational and impersonal lines is to create a situation where the opposite to is true.

Theory of bureaucratic dysfunction
Crozier argues that:

"... the bureaucratic system of organization is primarily characterized by the existence of a series of relatively stable vicious circles that stem from centralisation and impersonality" (Crozier, 1964, p 193)

He outlines four such 'vicious circles' that he observed in the organizations he studied.

The development of impersonal rules
In an attempt to be rational and egalitarian, bureaucracies attempt to come up with a set of abstract impersonal rules to cover all possible events. Crozier gives the example of the concours (competitive examinations) which mean that, one the exams are passed, promotion become simply a matter of seniority and avoiding damaging conflicts. The result, he argues, is that hierarchical relationships decline in importance or disappear completely which means that higher level in the bureaucracy have effectively lost the power to govern the lower levels.

The centralization of decisions
If one wishes to maintain the impersonal nature of decision making, it is necessary to ensure that decision are made at a level where those who make them are protected from the influence of those who are affected by them. The effect of this is that problems are resolved by people who have no direct knowledge of the problems they are called upon to solve, and so, priority is given to the resolution of internal political problems instead. In this case, the power to influence events over which one has direct experience is lost and it is passed to some impartial central body.

The isolation of strata and group pressure within strata
The suppression of the possibility of exercising discretion among superiors and the removal of opportunities for bargaining from subordinates results in an organization that consists of a series of isolated strata. The notional equality within the strata becomes the only defence for the individual against demands form other parts of the organization and allows groups some degree of control over their own domain. The result is very strong per group pressure to conform to the norms of the strata regardless of individual beliefs or the wider goals of the organization.

The development of parallel power relationships
It is impossible to account for every eventuality, even by the constant addition of impersonal rules and the progressive centralisation of decision making; consequently, individuals or groups that control the remaining zones of uncertainty, wield a considerable amount of power. This can lead to the creation of parallel power structures that give certain groups or individuals in certain situations, disproportionate power in an otherwise regulated and egalitarian organization. Once again, this can lead to decisions being made based on factors separate from the overall goals of the organization.
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