Islam is a civilisation and a way of life of more than a billion people on this planet. With a rich and illustrious history, the turn of the 20th & 21st century has seen the ummah (nation) of the Holy Prophet and Messenger Muhammed ﷺ enter one of it's saddest chapters.
‘A Thinking Person’s Guide to Our Times’ is the work of Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal - a Jordanian scholar with a degree from Princeton University, USA and two PhDs (Cambridge and Al-Azhar Universities).
The book is divided into three sections - three essays based on the works and insights of the author over a period of twenty-five years offering commentary on developments in the periods:
- 1795–1995 (beginning with Napoleon’s invasion of the Middle East)
- 1990-2015 (starting with the First Gulf War)
- 2016-2045 (including speculation about future trends and developments).
A recurring theme in Islamic history is the prevalence of crises and new challenges. The current struggles faced by the ummah in the 21st century is not a new phenomenon. However, there are clear differences between this age and the past. The most profound is the loss of the Caliphate - the political, social, economic and spiritual fabric that held and governed the ummah for more than a thousand years and united diverse people under the unifying creed of La Ilaha illa Allah.
Religion, from the root word religio in Latin, means ‘retying the bond’ with God. This is similar to the Islamic aqeedah (Creed) of ‘holding firm to the rope of Allah’ and tightening a person's faith in Him (SWT) in the same manner as tightening knots on a rope. In Western, secular societies, religion has become a common target of attack. This is amplified by a barrage of attacks on the essence of what it means to be a Muslim - each repeated attack can undo a knot for a believer over time.
The book argues there are two co-existing layers to life and existence – the external, outer world and the internal, inner world. It is erroneous to believe both are mutually exclusive and it is equally wrong to prioritise one over the other in addressing the problems faced by the ummah.
The book examines the external crises (e.g. historical, geographical, financial, technological, sociological, political, ideological etc) and internal crises (e.g. intellectual, cultural, institutional, psychological, educational, spiritual, doctrinal etc) faced by the ummah – forging a link between current woes with the two Commands of Allah (SWT) :
The book also examines the three prevailing thoughts within the ummah:
- Traditional Islam
- Modernist Islam
- Fundamentalist Islam
As a means of interpreting Islam within the framework of the prevailing thought.
The author proposes four essential points for Muslims to contemplate and implement in their lives as remedies:
- Personal Time Management
- Acquisition of Beneficial Knowledge and Reading Books (throughout a person's lifetime)