Integrally-Based Islamic Polity: Mandala as a whole

Integral grounding: contemporary relevance of the qur'an

We now finally come to what we term the Centre of our vision of an Integral Polity, which is also represented by Herman's mandala of a Future Primal Politics as a whole – that is in the Middle East. London based, Pakistani born, Muslim scholar and futurist Ziauddin Sardar (34), probably the leading Muslim scholar of our contemporary era, has recently written, in his subtle Reading the Qur'an, that such a centring:

• embodies the true definition of Muslim society as a qualitative one: “the middle community", a community of the middle way;

• refers to the creation of the Universe and uses examples from the natural world (our grounding);

• employs parables (our emergence), metaphors and allegories;

• explains (part of our navigation) moral principles; and

• concerns itself with the practicalities (our effect) of how society should reform and organize itself internally as well as in its relations with other people to advance in ethical behaviour and righteousness.

Muslims, for Sardar then, have generally seen the notion of the “middle community" as key. This implies that a balance must be sought between our physical and spiritual needs, the demands of the body and those of the soul. A distributive, inclusive outlook in all aspects of life is involved, in an environment of open, tolerant welcoming to all. They argue for a more respectful and humble approach to nature, holding themselves responsible and accountable as trustees, people who look after and preserve the environment for future generations. They, in Qur'anic principle if not in practice, demand fair-play, equity and justice in our economic activity and moderation in politics. When Sardar looks around the Muslim world then, what he sees is not "a community of the middle way", but communities of extremes. Where do we go from here?

HRH Prince Charles, in Britain, has an emergent perspective on the harmonic matter.

Integral emergence: islam as a harmonic worldview

The geometric code, that Prince Charles (35) – as a student of the world's primal and ancient cultures – has called the grammar of harmony, was evidently understood by the major civilizations of the world. The temples of India, for example, reflected it profoundly. Many of them follow a similar design. At the centre sits a dark chamber, surrounded by a series of rooms that become lighter as they get nearer to the outside world. The symbolism is missed by most, but the point here is that all of creation bursts out of what the mystics of India called the "uncreated light" of the central unity. From this unity flows all of the teeming multiplicity of existence, symbolized by the rich decoration and intricately carved ornamentation of the temple's outer walls. Again, such temples are models of the universe, both its outer aspect and its inner one.

It was in fact, according to Prince Charles, the Arab world that salvaged much of the treasure from the ancient world. Slowly it infused Arab thinking so that when the great

Abbasid Empire rose to prominence from the 8th century onwards the principles of harmony, balance and unity were central to the vast outpouring of craftsmanship and scholarship that characterized what has come to be known as “the Golden Age of Islam". Its epicentre at Baghdad enjoyed a spectacular flowering in scholarship and an approach to art and design that fused Arab thought and invention with that of Persia, Egypt, Europe and the Far East. Where are we, as such, today?

Integral navigation: the potential of the people's spring

For the renowned Egyptian political scientist and development economist, Samir Amin (36), currently resident in Dakar, West Africa, if the challenge faced by the Arab people today is to be met, it is necessary to abandon, once and for all, what he terms backward looking illusions, that is, the whole perspective of the “Islamization of society and politics". This does not mean rallying to the shoddy goods of Westernization, which can be perfectly compatible with "Islamization" in process, but rather a liberation of the inventive capacities of the Arab people, including those to which Prince Charles has alluded. This is necessary if they are going to become active agents in shaping the future with and at the side of other peoples struggling against dominant capitalism/ imperialism.

The "springs" of the Arab people, like those the peoples of Latin America have been experiencing over the last two decades, are what Amin calls the second awakening of the people of the South, and our "Centre". For us, integrally so to speak, such a full awakening needs to involve, explicitly and in transformative guise, nature and culture, society and economy, within an altogether integral polity. For such, in micro if not yet in macro terms, we turn to Egypt's Sekem.

Integral effect: sekem

The economic life of Sekem, for one of us, founder of Sekem, Ibrahim Abouleish, begins at a practical level to "heal" the soil through biodynamic methods. In partnership with close friends and colleagues in Europe, and local partners in trade, Sekem has marketed its products, through what it terms "the economics of love". Its cultural life, in the course of such – now also incorporating Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development – is nurtured and cultivated by the Sekem Development Foundation (SDF), educating the children, youth and adults in cognitive and practical skills, while enhancing their free will. While offering health and therapeutic care, Sekem initiates research into all aspects of life, searching for solutions to major questions.

It was Abouleish's (37) wish, from the outset, for this initiative to embody itself as a community; a community in which people from all walks of life, from all nations and cultures, from all vocations and age groups, could work together, learning from each other and helping one another, sounding as one in a symphony of harmony and peace. Over time and from within the bounds of the community a "Council for the Future" was born. Its goal is to strengthen our direction and simultaneously renew it according to contemporary needs.

To do this Sekem drew its inspiration from spiritual and natural science, from religion and art. Furthermore, the "Council for the Future" has created a network based on communication and cooperation between Sekem, its friends and partners, co-workers and supporters, as well as scientists and artists from all over the world. Omitted from such a network currently, but as we envisage it, becoming part of it in the future, is a revitalized kibbutz movement in Israel.

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