Professor Amin Abdul Aziz
A common misconception about Islam is that, like all religions, it is an impediment to societal ‘progress’. Yet, the historical reality shows that Islam, with its emphasis on the Prophetic Tradition, is actually the motivation for societal innovation. This paper analyses three of Islam’s civilisationally most accomplished societies by tracing their rise and fall in order to explore the claim that Islam is indeed the impetus for creating an innovative society, thereby adding further credence to the viability of Islamic developmental approaches. This endeavour adopts a qualitative approach by employing the IGC Matrix to detail the underlying premises of the Islamic Civilisation – a composite of Tauḥīdic societal expressions and communities. The historical societies of Baghdad, Mughal, and Timbuktu are examined according to the IGC Matrix’s four criteria of analysis, which involves looking at (1) their underlying theological premises, (2) the coherence of their premises and processes, (3) the values those societies upheld, and (4) the socio-political structures that enabled scientific and intellectual efflorescence. The details of the four criteria are then compared to elicit the common denominators stimulating their civilisational thrusts. The result is that the Islamic systems of governance applied in Baghdad, Mughal, and Timbuktu encouraged an inspired application of the Tauḥīdic and Prophetic Tradition, thus engendering civilisational creativity and innovation.