The Natural Law of Holistic Education: Essence of Reality, Pattern of Purpose, Practice of Justice
by Dr. Robert D. Crane
The most significant conflict in the world today, beyond the beastiary of conflicts that dominate the popular media, is between traditionalist conservatives and modernist liberals. Most significant is not how they differ, but why. This is the key to paradigm management, which will determine the future of civilization on earth, based on Arnold Toynbee’s two-fold criteria of challenge and adequate response.
The problem with secular liberals is that they insist on inventing reality by denying any higher truth than themselves. They deny natural law, which is to be sought holistically not created by human fiat.
By claiming to be the source of truth they deny the essence of anything and everything, because without essence everything is relative and truth cannot exist. If everything is relativistic, there is no purpose, and, if there are no principles of justice derived from higher purpose, then the practice of human responsibilities and the corresponding and resulting human rights has no logical basis.
This denial of any reality beyond the power of personal whim is the source of all totalitarian ideologies, beginning with the liberal logic of the French Revolution, which produced Communism, Fascism, and both Zionist and Muslim Statism today, where the sovereign state or global caliphate claims divinity based on the top-down political process of might makes right.
In classical Christian scholastic thought, based largely on Thomas Aquinas and his mentor Ibn Sina (Avicenna), our response to the modern heresies rampant around the world today must be guided by natural law through the disciplines and wisdom of ontology (what is), epistemology (how we know what is), and axiology (the derivative principles and process of compassionate justice).
In Islamic thought this natural law is known as the Sunnat Allah, the “ways of God”. The Sunnat Allah, derives, first of all, from and consists of the essence of ontological truth, known simply as haqq, which has many meanings rooted in its basic meaning as the ultimate being beyond all created contingencies. The successor to Thomas Aquinas at the new University of Paris, Maitre Eckhard, called this Beyond Being, whereby the Christian Trinity is at the level of Being, which itself is beyond our space-time existence. Beyond Being might be known also as Nirvana.
Second, natural law as the Sunnat Allah derives from and consists of seeking truth through the triple epistemological process of haqq al yaqin or divine revelation through the various world religions, ‘ain al yaqin or scientific study of the physical universe, including the laws of our own human nature or fitra, and ‘ilm al yaqin, or the use of our human intellect to understand these first two sources of truth, because, according to the principle of tawhid, there can be no contradiction between them.
Thirdly, natural law as the Sunnat Allah consists of the higher principles of justice, known as the maqasid al shari’ah, which must be derived intellectually by a process of axiology through both induction and deduction from haqq al yaqin and ‘ain al yaqin.
In May and June, 2009, http://www.theamericanmuslim.org published my book, entitled Rehabilitating the Role of Religion in the World, which had a chapter on the origin of such normative Islamic jurisprudence and chapters on each of eight such irreducible principles of justice, except for a still planned 70-page chapter on my major area of expertise, namely, haqq al mal or economic justice.
This tripartite phenomenon of the Sunnat Allah can be defined as natural law, though it could also be known as meta-law, as the key to holistic education.
This approach to holistic education is based on the two concepts in the first sentence of the first chapter in the Qur’an, namely, Al hamdu li Allah, Rabbi al ‘Alamin, al Rahman al Rahim. This summarizes all the rest of the Qur’an and all revelations of truth throughout human history. We thank God and our responsibility to God as the Lord of the Worlds, which means lord of all orders of sentient beings, namely, the angels independent of space and time, as well as persons on the perhaps millions of other planets in the universe. Next, we recognize both the essence of God as Compassion, al Rahman, and the merciful actions of God, al Rahim.
This combination of essence and action is the key to holistic education as a traditionalist and perennial means to bring together the best of all civilizations and religions in order to universalize their spiritual awareness and plurality of wisdom by interfaith cooperation in pursuing the vision of peace, prosperity, and freedom through the interfaith harmony of transcendent and compassionate justice for everyone.