The Religious Thrust of Islamic Civilisation
Civilisation implies settlement, to be sedentary or settled in a region, as distinguished from a bedouin or nomadic lifestyle. The renowned historian ‘Abd al-Rahman Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406) used hadarah (civilisation) in the sense of transformation from nomadism to umran, to an urban milieu inhabited by settled populations and societies. The antonym of badawah (nomadism), hadarah signifies the interaction between man and his environment, and has its genesis in man’s quest to harness the existential world around him in the pursuit of worthy objectives. Mankind’s mission as God’s vicegerent places upon man the responsibility to ‘build the earth’ in a manner that befits his status as the most honoured of God’s creatures. The English word civilisation is derived from civitas, a Latin term which means ‘pertaining to the citizen’ or ‘a state’, thus implying a transformation from nomadism to urbanity and settlement.