The Origins of Foresight from an Islamic Perspective

This paper examines the origins of foresight within Islamic thought, relying on the Qura'n and the Sunnah as the basic sources of Muslim thought. In its overview of the history of foresight, the paper deals first with the concept of the metaphysical realm (al ghayb) in Islamic tradition and its relationship with forecasting the future. The paper demonstrates the malleability of this major Quranic concept. Next, it considers the issue of time and the supremacy within of the principle of the "open future" as compared to the idea of "progress" that was widespread in Europe in the 19th century. It goes on to reflect on the Islamic interest in forecasting following an increased preference among Islamic jurisprudents for the study of "possible future outcomes". Possible obstacles to foresight are also considered in this paper, in particular those Islamic beliefs that, in some interpretations, may stymie the natural evolution of futurology in the Muslim World. Most significant of these is that of qadar wa al tawakul ("Resignation to fate" or "to put one's faith in fate"). Finally, the paper suggests some theoretical and practical solutions based on fundamental understandings of causality.

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This paper examines the origins of foresight within Islamic thought, relying on the Qura'n and the Sunnah as the basic sources of Muslim thought. In its overview of the history of foresight, the paper deals first with the concept of the metaphysical realm (al ghayb) in Islamic tradition and its relationship with forecasting the future. The paper demonstrates the malleability of this major Quranic concept. Next, it considers the issue of time and the supremacy within of the principle of the "open future" as compared to the idea of "progress" that was widespread in Europe in the 19th century. It goes on to reflect on the Islamic interest in forecasting following an increased preference among Islamic jurisprudents for the study of "possible future outcomes". Possible obstacles to foresight are also considered in this paper, in particular those Islamic beliefs that, in some interpretations, may stymie the natural evolution of futurology in the Muslim World. Most significant of these is that of qadar wa al tawakul ("Resignation to fate" or "to put one's faith in fate"). Finally, the paper suggests some theoretical and practical solutions based on fundamental understandings of causality.

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