The Venture of Islam
According to Hodgson, the “straightforward moral appeal of the Islamic religious tradition was complemented on the social level, in Islamdom in the Middle Periods, by what may be called a ‘contractualistic’ pattern of determining legitimacy in social organization.” (p. 340). The pattern contrasted sharply with what was known Occidental corporativism just like the religion of Islam to Christianity. For example in the Islam religion the life orientation were coordinated as well as the societal norms.
According to Hodgson, “both the social and the religious norms seem to have resulted from the same long term circumstance in the Irano-semitic core area” (location 7743). The line of development that Islam embraced strengthened the corresponding social expectations of the Muslim community. Islam has remained consistent in its social forms and standards which are different compared to those of the Irano-semitic core area in the Middle periods. Hodgson further states that we should “view the contractualism not as the result of Islam but as largely a tendency parallel to that of Islamic moralism itself” (location 7743)
In Christianity, the social pattern and the religious ideals were not entirely interdependent. The occidental was seen as one society in which the Christian tradition made their spiritual and intellectual foundation. Other societies were distinctively different form the Occidental society. Unlike Islam the Christians did not give much attention to social considerations. It was therefore common to for each respective region to form a Christian society relevant to itself.
In Islam, the fall of the high Caliphate meant that the bureaucratic authority that had dominated during his tenure begun to disappear. It was replaced by a unitaristic pattern of legitimization that made the Islamdom unique in comparison with other societies. This is what was known as unitary contractualism. In the earlier middle period neither the islamicate nor the occidental patterns were elaborated, they were simply structured and appeared to be in the process of actual formation.
The concept of the occident was initially far less wealthy and cultivated. The Far East as well as thee occidental traditions had resisted the expansion of Muslim though the two had acquired some degree of knowledge from Islamdom. The occident was stronger than expected and in some instance it was able to roll back Islam from the territories where it had existed for a long while. It may therefore be right to say that contrary to the situation over a thousand years ago, when core areas had coexisted, the societies were now experiencing a more three cornered conflict among the most active cultural traditions. The islamicate in the entire old indo-Mediterranean zone, the Far East and the new occidental variants of the Hellenic traditions. The conflict was rarely explicit and the occident made attempts to act together for example in the crusades. They tried to portray a joint political power in relation to the outsiders.
According to Hodgson, the difference between contractualism and corporativism will recall in some of its aspects, the famous contrast between society and the community: Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft” (location, 7781). In Islamdom the factors that went to make up for a corresponding style was not focused on as much ass the High gothic period in northern France. The style was however too distinctive and the and it was a common characteristic of the Earlier middle period. Though it did not prevail exclusively. So as to islamicate the social sphere the most appropriate analogy according to Hodgson was the “arabesque-type patterning, including geometrical and floral interlacing” (p 345).
A sense of good order required as pattern of nits that are equal and transferable which satisfied a specific set of standards. The Islamic religion had a sense of equal and coordinated responsibility among the Muslim believers. Each individual had the moral responsibility to maintain and uphold the moral standards in the universe. This was the basic Islamic sense of style. The impact was not clearly felt until the fall of the High Caliph state among the jala I Sunni Muslims. It was justified in kalam disputation and became deepened into more inward levels by the general spread of aiqah Sufism (p350). The balance created between the Shariah mindedness and Sufism is what made it possible for Islam to appeal to all kinds of neighbouring societies without sacrificing its egalitarianism. In contrast with hierarchical corporativism of the occident is what
Hodgson refers as the “unitary contractualism” of Islamdom. It meant that the ultimate legitimacy lay in the egalitarian contractual responsibilities and not the commonly expected autonomous cooperative office. This means that the responsibilities for actions were personally carried in such as role such as the amir, the imam, the ghazi or the husband in a family. The Shari principle dictated the model that defined the duties to the public. Social functions were therefore reduced for the ayni who was a duty incumbent on every individual. The personal contractual principle was different from the corresponding occidental of the public and corporate offices.
According to Hodgson “ some special status is allowed to act or property and the like ascribed to a social body such as state” The occidental had the tendency to push the special status of public acts to extreme degrees as they claimed that they were following the fixed autonomy of an office. The Muslim principle contrary to the occidental’s society was against giving any special status and preferences to individuals. This is due to the fact that the Muslim doctrines teach that we are all humans and therefore equal to the eyes of Allah. The Muslim principle therefore emphasised on the egalitarian and moralistic considerations. The Muslims principle therefore was against any special status to all public acts at all. All acts according to the doctrine of the Muslims were with reference to the personal responsibility of a specified individual.
Contractualism dictates the achievement of status through achievement rather than status via ascription. Islamic contractualism had many features that suggested a greater emphasis on the type of legitimization where personal achievement are considered highly and relations are determined by contract and not by custom. According to Hodgson, “The Islamic pattern did not reach the level of impersonal achievement-oriented evaluations that has been associated with modern technicalized society” (location 7795). Hodgson goes on to state that in the Occident, legitimization and authority were conferred on an autonomous corporative offices, it did not focus only on personal relationships or a given power structure.
The autonomous corporative according to Hodgson meant that the autonomous legal authority was ascribed to positions such as electorship, kingship, vassalship, among others. The offices were autonomously legitimate such that it had dictated fixed rights and duties. The offices were also corporative in that they presupposed established social bodies and limited membership and the territory. The offices also considered themselves to be autonomous and it is within the office that the office holder had the right to exercise his duties (p344).
According to Hodgson “the hallmark of occidental corporativism was its legitimism” (p345). Each office had a predetermined holder who was seen as legitimate, any other individual that tried to impose his leadership was seen to be illegitimate. A monarch for example would be seen to be legitimate if he took power within the fixed rules that were related to the monarchical office. It did not matter if he was an infant or incompetent to rule, if he came to power as per the fixed rules of monarchical leadership hew as considered legitimate.
Among the occidentals the decision of authority to multiple autonomous offices put a risk to the distinction between the public and the private facilities that had been inherited from the earlier days. Feudal relationships were being interpreted in a contractualistic sense. The main drive however was to reinterpret the devolution of offices and the feudal system in a corporative sense. The corporative sense stated that it is the office and not the man that was autonomous. With this in mid even the rights to kingship in Jerusalem could be bought and sold
Personal responsibilities of offices in Islamdom were created on an eligalitarian basis: they were expected to be taken up by anyone whop qualified by becoming a Muslim. The responsibilities according to the Muslim eligaritarianism were not heritable and could not therefore be traded or sold from one individual to another.
Hodgson talks of the Ibn-al-Arabi in this book. The Arabi was referred to as the greatest master just like any other Muslim teachers. Ibn begun his career in Spain and was deeply concerned with the problems of uitive metaphysics. During his hajj pilgrimage he travelled in Egypt, Arabia and Syria widely before finally settling in the city of the ancient prophets’ tombs, Damascus. While at his stay there he composed a series of Meccan revelations which he saw claimed were inspired by the divinity (p150).
According to Hodgson, Ibn made use of all the patterns of conceptualizing that had been known in the Islam do at that time. Ibn not only utilised the Sufi mythopoeic writings but also Ashari and the Mutazili kalam disputation. Ibn also made use of the Basini speculations of the Ismaili as well as the various strands of the older philosophical heritage such as the neo-Platonist stand on creation by divine emanations.
Ibn-al Arabi also relied on the personal experiences and taste that he encountered in his life journey (p 134)Ghazali on the other hand while recasting of the Jamai-Sunni thinking to make a place for the studies of falsafah and to introduce Sufism as culminating principle. He confronted the nizari Ismaili doctrine and allowed considerable impact. When the revolt of the ismailis had collapsed they turned into spiritualizing their mission, this was a role though seeming accidental was played by the twelverr Shiism.
Ghazali faced many challenges and one of them is the Ibn-Sina who took up Ghazali’s challenge to the fyalasufs by directly defending the master. The falsahah whether in individualism or ambivalent sectarianism protected itself with severe secrecy. The faylasufs even when they saw a role for philosophical insights at a wider level seemed to agree with Ghazali in the fact that the true and right philosophia in its true nature was not meant for the common man (p154).
Visual arts gained entry into the Early Middle period of the Islamdom after the end of the High Caliph state. The visual arts took on traits that were recognised as islamicate fore the next one thousand years. Just like literature and other intellectual life visual arts traces its roots back to the fragmentation of political life as well as the relative autonomy of urban cadres. When the confessional religions were rising, the art of the people of Iran was present everywhere in the spirit of Hellenism. Gradually it broke off from them ideal naturalism of the Greeks who were pagans and found ways to express other emotions.