Introduction

“When there is a general change of conditions,” Ibn Khaldun writes, “it is as if the entire creation had changed and the whole world been altered as if it were a new and repeated creation, a world brought into existence anew.”[1] Diligent study of history had given him a unique awareness of something all Muslims believe, though few perhaps truly grasp: Allah alone is Eternal, while everything else is perishing. The best we can hope to pin down is a relative view of the Sunnah of Allah as manifest in the pattern of created events. Thus, Ibn Khaldun concluded that history, if it is to aspire to real knowledge, must be a branch of philosophy; that is, we must hypothesize unchanging algorithms governing the flow of events, underwriting the order evident therein. Only to the extent that we understand these laws of human culture can we hope to verify reports, explain the past, or anticipate future events. Alas, since we can only arrive at such laws by inference from the pattern of events, our understanding of them is always limited by the scope and reliability of the historical evidence itself. Ibn Khaldun’s evidence was limited to historical reports from a specific period in a specific geographic area. Consequently, as the statement makes clear, he understood that eventually, his understanding of human society as a cycle of nomadic and settled life would no longer apply.  
In our current conditions, it is simply inexcusable not to be at least as aware as Ibn Khaldun of the difference between the eternal and temporal. Only the amnesia that these conditions induce could explain it. Simply bemoaning this rate of change as another modern ailment is essentially complaining that nothing other than God is eternal. For the rate of change is relative. The task, as always, is to distinguish the eternal from the temporal with clarity. For if the proper relation of humans to God is always a possibility—that is to say, if Shariah is applicable to all historical conditions—then there must be something about the part of creation implicated in such a relation (namely, the human being), that will not change. Yet in our time, technology has ‘advanced’ at a rate that has led us to imagine the eclipse of human nature itself, a historical condition known as the ‘transhuman.’ Now what?
In Part I of what follows, we describe the prospect of transhumanism and the current state of moral deliberation on technology to which it draws attention. Then we will suggest an alternative paradigm. In Part II, with some help from Aristotle, we conceptualize technology itself in a more principled way. In Part III, we review some insights from Abu Hamid al-Ghazali’s Alchemy of Happiness on the true nature of the world, applying our concept of technology, to find a more stable vantage from which to independently evaluate the moral implications of technological changes.                    

Part I

Part II

Part III

Notes