From Issue: 1026 [Read full issue]
Tool and Cult
Two antagonistic facts are connected to man's emergence: the first tool and the first cult. The first tool was a piece of wood or a roughly shaped stone - a fragment of nature. The making of tools and their usage represents a continuation of biological evolution, which is exterior and quantitative, and which can be followed from primitive forms of life to the appearance of man as a perfect animal. Upright bearing, perfection of hand, language, and intelligence are various states and moments in evolution which remain zoological in nature. By using for the first time a stone to smash a hard fruit or to hit an animal, man did something very important though not anything entirely new since his alleged animal ancestors had already tried to do it. However, when he set the stone in front of his eyes and looked at it as a symbol of a spirit, he did something that became the universal and unavoidable trait of man all over the world, something completely new in his development. Similarly, when man for "the first time drew the line around his shadow on sand and so made the first picture," he began an impossible activity belonging to him alone, any animal being a priori incapable of it — regardless of its degree of evolution, present and future.
The biological aspect of man's emergence may be explained by the preceding history. The spiritual aspect of his emergence cannot be deduced or explained by anything that had existed before him. Man came from another world, from the sky, as religion has picturesquely said.
The cult and tool represent two natures and two histories of man. One history is human drama, beginning with the "prologue in heaven," developing through the triumph of the idea of freedom and ending with the last judgment, which is the moral sanction of history. The other is the history of tools, which is the history of things, and it will end by entering the classless society, the entropy, as the rest of the material world. The two histories have the same relation as the cult and the tool, which is the same as culture and civilization.
"Islam Between East and West" - Alija Ali Izetbegovic, pp. 43, 44