PRIMORDIAL COVENANT AS THE BASIS OF RELIGION:THE QUR’ĀNIC MῑTHĀQ OF ALASTU ACCORDING TO SYED MUHAMMAD NAQUIB AL-ATTAS

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Mohd Farid Mohd Shahran

Abstract

In the philosophy of religion, apart from a cogent conception of God, a strong spiritual relation that binds human beings with God is another important element that supplies the raison d’etre to a particular religious tradition. This article evaluates one of the manifestations of this spiritual bondage in Islam through an examination of the primordial spiritual covenant between God and all human beings known as “the Covenant of Alastu.” It analyses how this idea of covenant, originally taken from the Qur’ānic verse and particularly refined in the Sufi tradition, was further developed and became continuous reference to the archetypal origin of man in Islam. Based mainly on the works of Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas, this article proves that the Primordial Covenant has left great impacts on some other aspects of religiosity such as the spiritual bondage between individuals that transcends gender, family, and ethnicity. Irrespective of the disputes over how the covenant had actually taken place, this notion of spiritual covenant, as this article further explicates, has become a pertinent theological concept that defines one’s religiosity in Islam.

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Author Biography

Mohd Farid Mohd Shahran, Centre for the Study of Shariah, Law and Politics, Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM), Malaysia

Principal Fellow and Director