The following is a translation from the book: Mafaheem Islaamiyah Al-Juz’u-l-Awwal, Islamic concepts – Volume One by Muhammad Hussein Abdullah published in 1994.
The Fikr (thought) is a Hukm (judgment) upon a reality and the vessel of this thought is the language. As such the language is not a thought but rather it is only a tool to express this thought. So our statement: ‘The human is a speaking animal’ is a sentence based on language that contains a Madlool (indicated meaning) and this Madlool is the thought. If this Madlool (what is indicated) has an external reality to it that the mind comprehends like in the sentence: ‘The human is a speaking animal’ then this Fikr would represent a Mafhoom (concept) for the one who perceives this Madlool (indicated meaning). However if this thought did not have a Madlool like the statement: ‘The human being is composed of matter and spirit’ then there will not be a ‘Mafhoom’ (concept or conception) for this Fikr (thought). This is because the senses do not fall upon the Madlool (indication) of this thought because the human mind does not perceive a reality for what is being implied or indicated to. As such this indicated meaning (Madlool) would remain a thought that has no Mafhoom (conception) for it. So the thoughts of Plato about his ‘Republic’ are not concepts (Mafaaheem) because the indicated meanings (Madloolaat) of these thoughts which Plato expressed in his language do not have a sensed reality to them within life. Therefore in order for the Afkaar (thoughts) to be concepts in respect to the person it is necessary for the Madlool (indicated meaning) of these thoughts to have a reality for that person.
This book deals with some of the concepts which the human mind perceives their Madloolaat (indicated meanings) directly in the external reality and this is like the concept: ‘The human being is composed of matter alone’. This is because this expression does not merely represent meanings fro wordings but rather it represents an expression of a concept which has a Madlool (indication) in the external reality that the human mind perceives and understands directly.
The book also deals with some of the concepts that the ‘Aql (mind) cannot comprehend and perceive directly and are only comprehended by a perception of their effect or through a perception of their manifestations and this is like the concept: ‘Within the human is a particularity (or specific feature/reality) that is the Ghareezah An-Naw’i (procreation instinct or instinct of kind/species)’. This is because the human does not perceive this instinct directly because his senses do not fall upon it. Rather he only perceives its manifestations and so he senses that the human loves his children, that he inclines in affection to his parents and that he inclines towards the opposite sex. In the case where these perceived manifestations serve the preservation of human kind the mind then perceives that the human has within him a particularity or specific feature that drives him towards these inclinations which has been named the Ghareezah An-Naw’i.
From amongst these concepts is that relating to the ‘Rooh’ (the secret of life). Man has perceived its existence from his perception of the presence of its manifestations and these are represented in the capacity to increase (multiply), grow and move. The Noble Aayah has come explaining to mankind their inability to fully comprehend its essence when Allah (swt) states:
وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الرُّوحِ قُلِ الرُّوحُ مِنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّي وَمَا أُوتِيتُمْ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا
And they ask you concerning the Rooh. Say: The Rooh is from the affair of my Lord and you have not been provided with knowledge of it except for a little (Al-Israa 85).
There are also Mafaaheem (concepts) that relate to the Mughayyibaat (unseen matters) like Al-Jannah (paradise), An-Naar (the fire) and the Malaa’ikah (angels). These are from amongst the concepts that the mind cannot directly perceive and they can also not be perceived by way of their effects and manifestations because the senses do not fall upon them or their effects and manifestations. Rather the mind perceives them by way of the Daleel An-Naqliy (transmitted evidence) that is definite in respect to its correctness and validity like the Qur’aan Al-Kareem or the Prophetic Mutawaatir Ahaadeeth which indicate them decisively where it is not possible to understand from their wordings other than one single meaning for them alone. As such the Naar and its punishment and the Jannah and its bliss are concepts related to the belief of the Muslim and he perceives their reality from what the divinely inspired revelation has guided to.
Allah (swt) says:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآَيَاتِنَا سَوْفَ نُصْلِيهِمْ نَارًا كُلَّمَا نَضِجَتْ جُلُودُهُمْ بَدَّلْنَاهُمْ جُلُودًا غَيْرَهَا لِيَذُوقُوا الْعَذَابَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَزِيزًا حَكِيمًا (56) وَالَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ سَنُدْخِلُهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا لَهُمْ فِيهَا أَزْوَاجٌ مُطَهَّرَةٌ وَنُدْخِلُهُمْ ظِلًّا ظَلِيلًا
Verily those who disbelieve in our verses, we will drive them into a fire. Every time their skins are roasted through We will replace them with other skins so they may taste the punishment. Indeed Allah is ‘Azeez Hakeem. Whilst those who believe and do righteous acts, we will admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide forever. For them there are purified spouses and We will admit them into a deep shade (An-Nisaa 56-57).
And the existence of the Malaa’ikah (angels) is a Mafhoom (concept) of the Muslims as Allah (swt) states:
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ جَاعِلِ الْمَلَائِكَةِ رُسُلًا أُولِي أَجْنِحَةٍ مَثْنَى وَثُلَاثَ وَرُبَاعَ يَزِيدُ فِي الْخَلْقِ مَا يَشَاءُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
All praise is (due) to Allah, Creator of the heavens and the earth, (who) made the Angels messengers having wings, in twos, threes or fours. He increases in creation as He wills. Verily He is over all things powerful (Faatir 1).
The behaviour and conduct of the human is tied to the concepts about life because the concepts represent a controller for the behaviour. Therefore if we wish to change the conduct of a person, from a declined behaviour to an elevated and refined one, it is essential for us to change his concepts about life from the erroneous, incorrect and declined concepts to the correct and elevated concepts.
In the case where the Islamic concepts represent the highest and most elevated concepts about life it becomes necessary to explain these concepts so that they becoming controllers for the conduct of the Muslims and so that they can revive with a correct revival upon their basis. This book then only represents a modest contribution to the lofty heights represented in the Islamic culture that have been provided by those who preceded us and I ask Allah for it to be a matchstick that lights up the candles for the Islamic concepts to be crystallised and clarified by and so that they are purified from the stains that have become attached to them. And verily Allah is with the Muhsineen.