Mindanao Studies: A Proposed Framework

(A modified transcript of fifteen-minute presentation under the panel “Peoples and Faiths: A Mindanao Overview” at the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU)-School of Social Sciences (SOS) – Mindanao Scholars’ Consultation-cum-Conversations on Mindanao Studies” on September 12, 2018 at Ateneo de Davao University, Davao City, Philippines.)

Salamun ‘alaykum and good morning to all of you!

Thank you, Sir Joey [Sescon] for giving me carte blanche to focus on any topic; hence, I opt for “Mindanao Studies: A Proposed Framework”. In continuing this conversation started by Br. Karl [Gaspar], I shall give an introductory anecdote, then state the existing conceptual framework in the study of Mindanao. Thereafter, I shall propose an alternative framework. After laying down this proposed framework, I shall talk about the ‘target profile’ to be followed by the objectives. Then I will proceed with my recommendation and finally make my concluding remarks.

Introductory Anecdote

At the outset, let me narrate to you an anecdote about a Maguindanaon perennial student who always strives to tell the story of Mindanao to himself, his fellows and others. By the way, ‘Maguindanao’ is where we derive the name ‘Mindanao’. (According to one view, Maguindanao is derived from ‘maginged’ (community) and ‘danaw’ (flood, inundation, marsh) to mean “inundated plain”. So, Mindanao (‘mindanaw’) means ‘inundated’.)

In October 2016 at the Philippine Sociological Society (PSS) Conference here in Davao City, the said student presented a paper entitled “Bay‘ah: The Missing Link in the Military’s Denial of ISIS’ Presence in the Philippines” (see http://mlimba.com/bayah-the-missing-link-in-the-militarys-denial-of-isis). At the end of the presentation, a lady professor who claimed to be connected with the military intelligence stood up and confidently dismissed the presentation’s thesis (ISIS’ presence in the country).

A few months later, on May 12, 2017 to be exact, at the Philippine Political Science Association (PPSA) Conference in Cebu City, the same student presented a paper on “The Media Discourse on Violent Extremism in Mindanao: A Postmodernist Reading”. During the open forum, a former government negotiator in the GRP-MILF peace talk insisted that “There are only ‘ISIS-inspired’ or ‘ISIS-sympathizers’ in the country.” Exactly 11 days afterward, the Marawi Siege happened!

Existing Framework

As I see it, this anecdote is a glaring example of the existing conceptual framework in which in the field of research on Mindanao, the Mindanaon is just a field researcher, research assistant or transcriber, while the Manila-based scholar or professor is the Mindanao expert in published books and conferences. Within this framework, Mindanao is treated as an object of study, and Mindanao Studies program is seen as an attempt to provide ‘voice’ to Mindanao through an outside spokesman, who happens to be the Manila-based author or professor. This is because Mindanao is not mature yet and can’t articulate enough.

Proposed Framework

What we humbly proposed is a framework in which Mindanao is a subject. Under this framework, Mindanao Studies program is considered an attempt to provide ‘voice’ to Mindanao by letting it speak for itself. Here, Mindanao is no longer treated as mere object of study but subject as well. Having this framework, Mindanao will tell stories about the mosaic of its peoples as diverse as its water current and waves and yet as united as its rivers and the seas that surround it are.

Target Profile

As some of us know very well, the first step in the curriculum development process (CDP) is the definition of the ‘target profile’. By definition of the ‘target profile’ we mean an attempt to define what should be (‘target’) the characteristics (‘profile’) of a graduate from the program (Mindanao Studies). As such, it embodies what our expectations of the program graduates are.

Now, granting that a sound definition of ‘target profile’ provides both a comprehensive and a holistic blueprint that can be potentially implemented in the program, what then is our ‘target profile’? In other words, what is the supposed trademark of our graduate?

In broader terms and for the purpose of this conversation, we may say that our target profile is a graduate with ‘a balanced worldview’. It is a worldview that could tell both the story of laughter and tears of Mindanao. It is a worldview that listens to both the ‘gong’ of kulintang and the agony of palendag. It is a worldview that pays heed to both the splendor of okir and sarimanok, and the might of kampilan and lantaka.


As among its objectives, the Mindanao Studies program is supposed to help in (1) the formation of a national motto or slogan (By the way, do we have already a national motto such as Pancasila of Indonesia? Our Panatang Makabayan is too long to memorize, let alone internalize; for the millennials, that which is more akin to a hashtag or tagline is more appealing). The program should also be in tune with (2) the inculcation of national core values (such as patrimony, respect for diversity, acknowledgment of national history as a product of many local histories, and others). Obviously, it should also (3) contribute to nation-building and development through the discovery, promotion and utilization of Mindanao potentials and strengths.


One recommendation for this program is that it should not limit the students to the theory of Mindanao but to engage them as well in its praxis, or else, it will definitely meet the same fate of peace and development studies programs whose students are fed up with concepts and theories but no sufficient skills in the actual practice of peace and development (for example, skills about negotiation and mediation, entrepreneurship, and investment analysis, among others).

To be specific, if the student would intend to focus on Mindanao history and culture, then she should be introduced to actual ethnography, cultural mapping, and local history writing. If she would want to delve into Mindanao politics and administration, then she should be directed to immerse in Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA), the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), or similar agencies of the government. If she would incline to specialize in Mindanao economy and finance, then she has to be familiarized with the various plantations in Mindanao, the halal industry, Islamic banking, and shari‘ah-compliant investment products, among others.


In conclusion, we humbly submit that an ideal – if not the ideal – offering of Mindanao Studies program is not just to provide opportunity to tell the story of Mindanao, but rather to let Mindanao tell its own story, nay stories, to itself, its own people as well as to others. Being an interlocutor itself, Mindanao is now less in need of a spokesman, but rather of attentive listeners.

And I thank you for listening!

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There’s No ‘Irrelevant’ Question

Photo via Gigi Bueno

Makati City (September 8) – There was a recent invitation from the Mindanao Institute of Journalism for me to be a resource speaker at an academic forum attended by around a hundred lecturers and students of Kidapawan Doctors College.

So I had to fly back home to speak about peace journalism and share my personal observations of the media as a MindaNews columnist (http://www.mindanews.com/author/mansoor-l-limba).

It can be observed that at the end of speech of the other resource speaker, he asked the young audience, “So, wala kayong tanong? (So, do you have NO question?)”


None raised his or her hand except a lecturer sitting in front who made a comment or two about the current imposition of Martial Law in Mindanao.

Photo via Gigi Bueno

At the end of my 20-minute presentation, I thus told the audience something like this:

“In the Open Forum, you can make a correction to any point in my presentation, give your comment, or pose a question. In posing a question, let me remind you of certain things: (1) There is no such thing as ‘irrelevant’ question. In many instances, your question may exactly be the same thing which your seatmate wants to ask, and it may highlight a key dimension of the subject. (Remember, the casual falling down of a fruit from the tree catapulted Isaac Newton into the discovery of the Law of Gravity.) (2) Language is meant to be a bridge in communication. So, do not be imprisoned by the English language. You can freely express yourself in English, Filipino, Visaya, or any other language for that matter. (Yes, you can even ask a question in Mandarin or Thai, but you need to translate it because we can’t understand any of the two foreign languages.) (3) Asking question is already half of knowledge and right answer constitutes the other half. I hope I could give a percentage of the other half.”


The Open Forum took 72 minutes to address 17 questions (both oral and written). In other words, they threw hook, line and sinker of every ‘relevant’ question they could ever think of. One may even say that they threw everything including the kitchen sink.

Photo via Gigi Bueno

Next time, perhaps I would rather say, “There’s no such thing as ‘irrelevant’ question – provided there’s still time left to address it.”

As my fellow millennials would express, “Tanong-tanong lang, kapag may time!”

Photo via Gigi Bueno

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The Power of the ‘Minbar’

MUSCAT, OMAN (9 May) – In a recent post-Marawi conflict analysis workshop I co-facilitated, the third session was devoted to the identification of enablers and inhibitors of radicalization that leads to violent extremism. It can be noticed during the presentation that the madrasah and religious leaders or scholars (‘ulama) were identified in the three groups as either among the enablers, or the inhibitors, while at the same time, none of the three groups ever identified the institution of the masjid (mosque) as either an enabler, or inhibitor, as the case may be.

Why? Does it mean that the mosque is seen as merely a typical adjunct of the madrasah, or just a common platform of the religious leaders?

Or, is there something amiss, or missing?

As was exemplified by the Mosque in Madinah built by Prophet Muhammad and the first generation of Muslims, the mosque is supposed to be the nucleus of society and the center of sociopolitical activities and intellectual discussions of the community. In geological parlance, it is considered the ‘epicenter’ of attention, devotion and inspiration of the flock of believers.

One important element or section of every mosque is the mihrab (niche) which is located at the foremost front. Indicating the qiblah (direction of the Ka‘bah in Makkah where the Muslims face while praying), mihrab is actually semicircular in shape in the wall of a mosque. It is where the imam (prayer leader) stands to lead the congregation in every prayer.

Another crucial element of every mosque is the minbar (pulpit), which is located at the right rear of the mihrab. Derived from the Arabic root-word (نبر) (elevate), the minbar is originally a three-step pulpit, and later on, many more steps have been added in some mosques. It is the elevated platform where the khatib (preacher) stands while delivering his khutbah (sermon). Though conveniently translated as ‘preacher,’ khatib accurately means the one who delivers the khutbah.  Both khatib and khutbah are derivatives of the same root-word (خطب) which means ‘to deliver’ or ‘to speak’. The imam (prayer leader) is usually the khatib but it is not necessarily case all the times.

No doubt, the minbar, which has been an elevated platform since prior to the advent of the microphone, is a symbol of authority, and the khatib who occupies it is a holder of that authority. In the Friday congregational prayer, the deliverance of, and listening to, the khutbah is the substitute for the two cycles (rak‘at) of the four rak‘at of the daily dhuhr (noon) prayer during the rest of the days.

Possessing such a unique spiritual-political authority, the khatib could move a large size of a congregation into action of utmost significance – be it political, socio-cultural, economic, or spiritual.

As a prediction of the eventual misuse of the minbar after his lifetime, Prophet Muhammad lamented seeing in a vision some men leaping upon his minbar like monkeys and making the people trace their steps. Thereupon Archangel Gabriel came to him with this verse (Qur’an 17:6): “We did not appoint the vision that We showed you except as a test for the people and the tree cursed in the Qur’an. We deter them, but it only increases them in great rebellion. (See Ibn Abi’l-Hadid al-Mu‘tazili, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 2, p. 376; Tafsir al-Razi,  chap. 17, part 5, pp. 413-414; Tafsir Dur al-Manthur, vol. 5 under the commentary of verse 17:60; Bidayah wan-Nihayah, vol. 10, p. 49; Tarikh al-Damishq, vol. 57.)

No wonder, when ISIS overran the city of Mosul in Iraq on June 2, 2014, among the first institutions they had overtaken as the Grand Mosque of the city. Ten days after (June 12), they had executed Imam Muhammad al-Mansuri, the Grand Mosque’s imam and khatib. Three weeks afterward (July 4), The ISIS leader Abubakr Baghdadi mounted the minbar to deliver his khutbah.

The minbar is indeed so powerful that hate speeches and blatant lies masqueraded as khutbahs could potentially animate people and mobilize them for violent extremism. Even long after their deaths, YouTube ‘khatibs’ could still inspire ‘lone wolves’ to execute their missions and soon meet their damsels in heaven.

Such a power is supposed to be utilized for the original function it had. Of course, prior to its utilization, there is need for awareness and appreciation of the same.

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Rose-garden of Knowledge and Virtues

During this spring season, I can see another set of flowers that bloomed after fiver years in the Chosen One’s Rose-garden of Knowledge and Virtues.
Hail to the roses and kudos to the gardeners and cultivators!
For your journey ahead, these three can be your alimentary provisions: (1) visionary mindset, (2) working attitude, and (3) moral aptitude. In my understanding, these provisions may also be among the needed qualifications of the distinguished builders and citizens of the ‘Compassionate Government’ (dawlatin karimah) which we refer to in a supplication (du’a).
May the neighborhood benefit from the garden’s greenery and the roses’ scent of knowledge and beauty of virtues!
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Writing Ventures in the Pipeline

These are the titles I’m currently working on:

“Embayuka Tanu! Maguindanaon Proverbs, English Translation and Annotations”

“30 Questions Young Muslims Asked: Everyday Religious, Emotional, Educational, and Financial Inquiries”

“Having an Affair with Hemorrhoids: Let My Love Life be Your Lesson!”

“Combo Trip to Colombo”

“Hugging the Hague: Winter Stint at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations”

Which title do you want to be published first?

Let me know your views and suggestions!


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“Hijab and Mental Health” eBook Now Published!

Author: ‘Abbas Rajabi
Translator: Mansoor Limba
Pages: 178
eBook Price: US2/P100



Statement of the Problem and Necessity for Research
Operational Definitions

Chapter 1: History of Ḥijāb
A Brief History
1. Women’s Covering in Ancient Greece and Rome
2. Women’s Covering in Ancient Persia
2.1. Median Period
2.2. Persian (Achaemenian) Period
2.3. Parthian Period
2.4. Sassanid Period
3. The Women’s Dress Code in Major Religions
3.1. Ḥijāb in the Sharī‘ah of Prophet Ibrāhīm (‘a)
3.2. Ḥijāb in Judaism
3.3. Ḥijāb in Christianity
3.4. Ḥijāb in Islam
4. Ḥijāb and the Lawfulness of the Relationship between Man and Woman in the Qur‟an
5. Ḥijāb and the Lawfulness of Relationship between Man and
Woman in the Traditions
6. The Muslim Jurists’ View on Women‟s Covering
7. The Ḥijāb of Iranian Women after the Advent of Islam
7.1. The Ḥijāb of Iranian Women during the Rule of the First Four Caliphs until the End of the Umayyad Caliphate (11-132 AH)
7.2. The Ḥijāb of Iranian Women during the Abbasid Caliphate (132-656 AH)
7.3. The Ḥijāb of Iranian Women during the Samanian Rule
(261-389 AH)
7.4. Ḥijāb of the Iranian Women during the Āli Būyeh Rule
(320-447 AH)
7.5. Ḥijāb of Iranian Women during the ‘Alawī Rule of Ṭabaristān (250-316 AH)
7.6. Ḥijāb of Iranian Women during the Ghaznawī Rule
(351-582 AH)
7.7. Ḥijāb of Women during the Mongol Rule (616-736 AH)
7.8. Ḥijāb of Women during the Safavid Rule (907-1135 AH)
7.9. Ḥijāb of the Women during the Qājār Rule (1193-1344 AH)
8. The History of Combatting Ḥijāb in Iran
9. Ḥijāb in Our National Islamic Culture

Chapter 2: The Innateness of Ḥijāb and Woman‟s Adornment Instinct
The Innateness of Woman‟s Dress Code
The Instinct of Ostentation and Adornment
1. This Instinct as Exclusive to Woman
2. The Need for Setting the Legal Parameters of the Instinct of
3. Excess in the Instinct of Ostentation and Adornment

Chapter 3: The Relationship between Ḥijāb and the Woman’s Mental Health
Ḥijāb and Mental Health
1. Safety
2. Psycho-social Development
3. Women‟s Acquisition of Value
4. Regulation of the Instinct of Ostentation and Adornment
5. Enhancement of the Sense of Self-worth
6. Protection of the Woman‟s Feelings
7. Adherence to the Human Moral Principles
8. Preservation of the Strong Family Bond
8.1. Effects of the Spread of Obscenity and Promiscuity in the
Shattering of the Family
8.2. Excess in the Consumption of Beautification Products
8.3. Sexual Frigidity

Chapter 4: Mental Health and Anxiety
Mental Health
Definition of ‘Mental Health’
1. Historical Background
2. Definition of ‘Anxiety’
3. Signs of Anxiety in the Different Dimensions
4. The Adolescent‟s Reaction to Anxiety
5. The Formation of Anxiety in the Process of Growing-up
6. Theoretical Points of View on Anxiety
6.1. Psychodynamic Theory
6.2. Etiological Theory
6.3. Humanistic and Existentialist Theory
6.4. Cognitive Theory
6.5. Behavioralist Theory
6.6. Socio-cultural Theory
7. Empirical Background of the Research

Chapter 5: Results of the Field Research
Research Methodology
Statistical Population
1. Sampling Method
2. Sampling Size
Other Findings

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Philosophy of Religion – In Amazon Now!

Author: Muhammad Taqi Ja’fari
Translator: Mansoor Limba
Pages: 464
eBook Price: $5.994
The one-volume encyclopedia concisely, yet profoundly, deals with such subjects as definition of religion (essentialist, psychological-sociological, utilitarian-moralist, etc.), scope of religion, scope of jurisprudence, historical roots of secularism, science and religion, physics and metaphysics, and religious pluralism by meticulously examining the pertinent views of a wide array of Muslim and Western philosophers including, but not limited to, Aston, Geisler, Spencer, Muller, Bonhoeffer, Ellis, Spengler, Tylor, D’Holbach, Santayana, Otto, Cassirer, Sartre, Dewey, Oxford, Jastrow, William James, Jung, Herder, Schleiermacher, Feuerbach, Kaufmann, Samuel King, Goldziher, Rainach, Rupele, Frazer, Koestenbaum, Freud, Bultmann, Durkheim, Feaver, Jefferson, Barth, Ritschl, Tillich, Martin, Whitehead, and Johnson.

Excerpt of the Book: http://mlimba.com/metaphysical-foundation

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The Revival of Islamic Thought

Author: Murtada Mutahhari
Translator: Mansoor Limba
Price: US$3.99

Table of Contents:
About the Author
Chapter 1 – Iqbal and the Revival of Religous Thought
The absence of the Islamic spirit among Muslims
The logic of railway train
Solidarity as a sign of life

Chapter 2 – Past and Present Thought of Muslims on the Role of Action in Man’s Felicity
The roots of distortion of our way of thinking about Islam
Action as the bedrock of Islamic training and education
The role of the Umayyads in the emergence of this distortion
Why the idea of holding action in contempt came into being
What is faith [īmān]?
The Murji’iyyah
Two accounts
Twisted way of thinking
The issue of sanctuary
Two Prophetic traditions

Chapter 3 – Dull vis-à-vis Vibrant Thinking
Physical and spiritual life
Fiṭrah or the essence of human life
Life means to have insight and ability
Life itself as not identical with its characteristics
Reliance on Allah [tawakkul] as a vibrant and dynamic concept
Distorted and twisted tawakkul
Asceticism [zuhd] in Islam
Negative asceticism
The issue of guardianship [wilāyah] of a tyrant
Asceticism as a spiritual strength and not an economic weakness
Our ascetics as morally bankrupt as well as economically handicapped
The Imam and Productive works

Chapter 4 – Islamic Thought on Asceticism and Abandonment of the World
Asceticism and abandonment of the world
Is asceticism a natural disaffection?
Two types of asceticism unacceptable to Islam
Another misconception about asceticism
The real meaning of asceticism
Aims of Islamic asceticism
1. Self-sacrifice
2. Sympathy
Tradition on the philosophy of asceticism

Chapter 5 – The Philosophy of Asceticism (zuhd) in Islamic Thought
Story about sympathy
3. Freedom and liberty
Naturally essential conditions
Conditions within man’s freewill
Habit brings about attachment and attachment leads to captivity
Freemen always lead simple life
The philosophy of modesty and simplicity in the life of leaders
Pretensions, or limitations, restrictions and captivity
Asceticism of Gandhi
4. Consistency with the demand of time
5. Apprehension of spiritual pleasures
The enlightened ascetic according to Abu ‘Ali ibn Sina (Avicenna)

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The Power of International Quds Day in the Cyberspace – In Amazon Now!

Alternative Title: “Barry Barnes’ Theory of Power as Social Order: The Case of International Quds Day in the Cyberspace”
Author: Mansoor Limba
Pages: 237
eBook Price: US$4.99
An Excerpt of the Book: http://mlimba.com/barry-barnes-theory-of-power-in-the-conte…

Amazon Link: www.amazon.com/author/mansoorlimba

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 – Research Design
Statement of the Problem
Review of Related Literature
Power and Social Order
Cyberspace and International Quds Day
Secondary Questions
Objective and Significance of the Study
Theoretical Framework
Scope and Limitation of the Study
Research Methodology
Outline of Contents

Chapter 2 – Power and Social Order: The Theoretical Framework
Nature of Power
Approaches to Power Analysis
Cyberpower or Power in the Cyberspace

Chapter 3 – International Quds Day
Prior to Announcement of International Quds Day
The Announcement of International Quds Day
Subsequent International Quds Day Messages

Chapter 4 – Demonstrations on International Quds Day: The Routine (Afghanistan, Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, China, Cuba, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Russia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Syria, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, United States, Zimbabwe)
The Routine
The Anti-Routine

Chapter 5 – International Quds Day as Demonstrations: The Knowledge
Cyber-Demonstrations: Their Various Forms
1. Messages/Statements
2. Invitations
3. Feature articles
4. Web sites and pages
5. News and Audio/visuals
Cyber-Demonstrations: Their Merits and Demerits
1. Global
2. Real-time
3. Permanence
4. Virtual freedom
5. Anti-hierarchy
6. Variety of demonstrations
1. Limitation of participation and audience
2. Censorship and control
3. Illusion of permanency

Chapter 6 – International Quds Day as Muslim Holiday: The Social Order
Social Order and Holiday
Quds Day as Muslim Holiday—the Social Order
Campaign for Removal of Quds Day from Online Calendars—the Counter-Current

Chapter 7 – Empirical Data: The Results of Opinion Survey

Chapter 8 – Conclusion

Appendix 1: Questionnaire
Appendix 2: Calculation of Mean
Appendix 3: Calculation of Standard Deviation

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Fitrah: Man’s Natural Disposition

Author: Murtada Mutahhari
Translator: Mansoor Limba
Number of Pages: 192
eBook Price: $3/Php150

About the Book:

“Fitrah: Man’s Natural Disposition” is a translation of the Persian book “Fitrat” (Tehran: Sadra Publications, 2006) by the great Muslim thinker and reformer, Ayatollah Murtada Muttahari. “Fitrah” is the theme of a 10-session lecture series given the martyred thinker in 1976-77 in the presence of teachers in Nikan School in Tehran, and apparently due to his involvement in the Islamic movement and his increasing social activities, it was not continued. With ample citations from the Qur’an and other traditional Islamic sources, Mutahhari discusses the concept of ‘fitrah’ or man’s natural disposition. The author does not confine himself to Islamic references as he continuously engages with the views of a wide range of philosophers including Plato, William James, Russell, Nietzsche, Marx, Feuerbach, Auguste Comte, Spencer, Will Durant, and Durkheim, among others. Mutahhari’s ontological discussion covers a range of issues, including the literal and technical meaning of ‘fitrah’, sacred inclinations, love and worship, and the evolution of human originality. He also examines materialism and provides a theistic approach to some issues pertaining to the theories on the origin of religion, evolution of human society, intrinsic and acquired guidance, and intuitive and sensory dispositions.

Murtada Mutahhari was a leading theoretician of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. As an accomplished scholar of Islamic sciences, he played a pivotal role in forming the modern Islamic discourse which served as the foundation of the revolution. With close to ninety works to his credit, he is considered one of the leading thinkers of the global Islamic movement in the twentieth century.

Table of Contents

Translator’s Foreword
About the Author
Chapter 1 – The Meaning of Fiṭrah
Chapter 2 – Man’s Dispositions
Chapter 3 – Sacred Inclinations
Chapter 4 – Love and Worship as Proof of Human Inclinations
Chapter 5 – Spiritual Love: Marxism and the Permanence of Human Values
Chapter 6 – The Evolution of Human Originality
Chapter 7 – The Foundation and Origin of Religion
Chapter 8 – Love and Worship
Chapter 9 – The Innate Nature of Religion
Chapter 10 – An Examination and Refutation of Durkheim’s Theory
Chapter 11 – The Qur’anic View on the Origin of Religion

Read more »

Categories: Philosophy, Theology, Translated Books, Translation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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