08 August, 2013

Muting the Question of Salvation

Salvation, the core question in the ancient religious and non-religious philosophies, was insentiently muted by modern philosophies. Central entities in moral philosophies of the past; cosmos, divine and God, were supplanted by individual conscience in modern philosophy.  Modern philosophy revolutionized the meaning of virtue, and understanding of morality, and left no room for ancient aristocratic views of the stoics, but it left very little room for discussion on salvation. God has been discussed only in the practical context, as in Critique of Pure Reason by Kant, and there is little or no discussion on after-life or death. Modern efforts in philosophizing have reflexively suspended the discourse on overcoming ones primitive fears. Philosophy became a discussion on ethical and moral laws, and has favored the democratic order and peaceful co-existence, but failed to provide any answers to the question of salvation; as Luc Ferry puts:

“Ethical principles, however precious they may be, have no purchase whatsoever on the great existential questions that were formerly taken care of by the doctrines of salvation” (Luc Ferry, 2011: 134)

It used to be said ‘to philosophize is to learn how to die’, but now, the dialogue on death, after-life and salvation has been buried under discussions on morality and ethics. Nevertheless, the answers to these questions are a primeval need, and even if they are shelved, they will continue to haunt us, individually and collectively, in the long run. Luc ferry illustrates that with a stimulating creative example. Imagine that you own a magic wand, and you are able to instil humanistic ethical principles into everyone on the face of the earth. Rights of human begin to be religiously observed throughout the globe. Everyone pays due respect to dignity and fundamental rights of others. This brings up an inexpressible revolution in our lives and customs. There are no crimes against humanity, and all degree and types of vices would vanish from murder to genocide, from theft to rape. Institutions of police, army, courts and prisons would evaporate. Morality will bring up this immense revolution, however, we would still get old. The moral outburst would not prevent us from falling ill and experiencing painful separations.  The ethical paradise will not provide solace from the knowledge that we and our loved ones are going to die. We would start getting bored, and our daily life would lack any fervour. Saints, apostles, and all champions of human rights, and practically everyone, would still be hunting for fulfilled emotional life. In short, the pacific implementation of human rights might enable peaceful coexistence, but they in themselves do no giving meaning or purpose or direction to human existence. They do not help us in overcoming the primitive fears. They do not teach us how to die, or how to face death meaningfully. (Luc Ferry, 2011: 135)

In addition to this shift in the direction of philosophical discourse, other factors have also contributed to the inattention towards the problem of salvation. Some have tried to fill the gap with philosophies of ‘earthly salvation’ like patriotism, communism, socialism, scientism etc. Some others have unintentionally subscribed to materialism, consumerism and the likes, that keep them occupied from probing into the rudimentary queries about life. Some others religiously adopt the scheme of salvation that is injected into them paternally, socially and culturally, without any need to critically look beyond what is indoctrinated into them. Very few people embark on the journey of radical doubt and find the courage to dispute family, schoolmasters, priests and other “arguments from authority”. To conclude, critically contemplating (philosophizing) the question of salvation has been predominantly muted in religious to non-religious world and philosophical to non-philosophical discourses.


Ferry. L, (2011), A Brief History of Thought, Haper Collins Publsiher, Newyork. 


  1. This is sadly true. The most important question is not how to live or what to do but what is the meaning of life? It reminds me of a little dialogue from Alic in Wonderland.

    Alice to Cheshire Cat: `Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'

    Cat: `That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.'

    Alice: `I don't much care where'.

    Cat: `Then it doesn't matter which way you go'.

    According to Quran one can disbelief in Prophethood but belief in God and Hereafter is absolutely necessary for human salvation.

    Any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with
    their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” [2: 62]

    Those who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness – no fear will
    there be concerning them, nor will they grieve. [5:69]

  2. Assalamu alaikum sir, i hv snt u emails bt i din gt the rplies.....khair
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    Jezakallahu khairan

  3. Assalmu alaikum sistrs & brothrs
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    1.sir Awais tahir, ual kno him wel
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    His xplanations r awsom n alhamdulillah gav me strnth same as sir Awais tahr's post...
    May allah bls both of dm wit all the gud thng in both wrlds.
    Jezakallahu khairan.

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  9. I have constant bad thoughts about ALLAH. I am indulged in various superstitious activities (eg . closing my eyes when i see something bad, not interacting with people)in order to prevent these thoughts from coming . These superstition effect my life a great deal. should i keep doing these things as they prevent the thoughts or should i live a normal life and not care about them. please help me
    and what should i do for repentance . I have a habit of punishing myself , is it right ??

  10. Salamalaikum

    May Allah grant you so many rewards for such an article. I am going to go by your advice and inshaa Allah I will come back with good feedback.

  11. As salamu alaikum, thankyou for writing such a useful and helpful article on ocd. This article has helped me.

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  16. Aoa!! My problem is that i feel the need to wash again and again until my skin is dry and in this act i feel that my face and hair have become dirty due to the reflecting drops. I feel the wetness on my skin. And then i wash my face and hair to purify myself...
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  17. Mashallah thank you for this article. Hope it helps us all Inshallah like it helped me understand so many things! Good work!

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  21. Assalamuallaikum;i m suffering a lot by this ocd problem for d last 20 years and day by day it gets worsned I m about to lose my job my family my education even my faith I always think everythin is impure and it cant be make pure by any means today I read your articla and please pray to Allah that I will overcome from this problem by following the rigt path plese help me by further sugestions