By: Shaheed Ayatullah Mutahhari
To begin with, I would like to remind that scientific history is to in the light of the view discussed earlier that the society has a reality ,and personality independent of the individual. If society does‑ not have a reality independent of its members, there may not be any laws except those governing individuals,' and, consequently, scientific history, which is the science of the laws and principles that govern societies, would be pointless. That history is governed by laws is a necessary corollary of the proposition that history has its own nature, which again follows from the proposition that society has its own nature and reality. In the context of scientific history, the following problems should be studied.
1. As has been pointed out earlier, scientific history is based on traditional history. Traditional history provides the material for the laboratory of scientific history. Hence, firstly, it should be thoroughly investigated whether the contents of traditional history are authentic and reliable. If the material is not reliable, all research and scientific inference regarding the laws governing the societies of the past would be futile and pointless.
2. If we proceed with the supposition that traditional history is reliable, and that society has an essence and personality independent of individuals, then deduction of general laws from historical events and episodes would depend upon the hypothesis that the law of causation, or causal determinism, governs the sphere of human activities‑that is the sphere of problems associated with human freedom and will, which are expressed in historical events. Without accepting it; the laws of history can neither be generalized or universalized, nor can there be any orderly system of such laws. The question is whether the law of causation governs the course of history, and if it does, what are we to think of human freedom and responsibility?
3. Is history materialistic in nature and governed by materialistic forces? Is the principal force dominating human history a material force? Are intellectual and spiritual forces secondary, subordinate, and dependent upon the material forces that shape history? Contrarily, is it true that history is essentially spiritual,and the dominating force of history a spiritual force, the material forces being secondary, subsidiary, and subservient to it? In other words, is history in itself `idealistic' ? Or do we have a third alternative, i.e. history possesses essentially a composite character, governed by two or more forces? Is it true that a number of material and spiritual forces‑more or less harmonious and occasionally conflicting, depending on a system‑govern history?
1. Authenticity and Inauthenticity of Traditional History:
There are some who severely criticize traditional history, considering it as a series of fabrications of the narrators based on the historian's personal interests and objectives, his social affiliations, or on national, communal or religious prejudices‑all of which have more or less led to fabrications or distortions. The historians have compiled history according to their own wishes, and even those who, from a moral point of view, refrained from deliberate fabrication and distortion of facts, were selective in their choice while recording incidents. That is, they have invariably related only those incidents which did not go against their objectives and beliefs. They avoided giving accounts of such events which happened to be against their beliefs and feelings. In this way, though they might not have added anything of their own, or recorded any fabricated material, yet through their choice they gave history their desired form. A significant event or an important personality can be studied and analysed only when all the relevant material is accessible to the researcher.
If only a fraction of the required material essential for the study is available and the rest is not, the true face of reality is hidden and, replaced by a radically different face.
The pessimism of these critics of traditional history is similar to the attitude of some sceptics among Islamic jurisprudents (fuqaha' or mujtahidun) about Islamic tradition (hadith) and narrations (riwayat)an attitude which has been termed "insidad bab al‑`ilm" ("closure of the door of knowledge"). Some have made such ironic statements about history as, "History means, a series of events that never occurred, recorded by a person who was not at all present at the time." A journalist is quoted to have said that "realities are sacred, but one has freedom of faith [ to believe or disbelieve them]." Some are not so pessimistic, but they, too, prefer to be sceptical regarding history.
In the book What is History?, the following statement has been quoted from Sir George Clark: ... Knowledge of the past that has come down through one or more human minds, and has been processed by them, and therefore cannot consist of elemental and impersonal atoms which nothing can alter ....The exploration seems to be endless, and some impatient scholars take refuge in scepticism, or at least in the doctrine that, since all historical judgements involve persons and points of view, one is as good as another and there is no `objective' historical truth. 
The fact is that though we may not entirely trust even the records of the most reliable historians, but there are, firstly, a series of definite indubitables in history, similar to the self‑evident postulates accepted in other disciplines. These can form the subject of the historian's study, analysis, and research. Secondly, the researcher can exercise his discretion in reaching a conclusion regarding the truth or falsehood of some narrations by subjecting them to critical scrutiny. Today we see that researchers have conclusively proved the unreliability of certain matters which were exaggerated out of proportion and were held in reverence for several centuries. The story of burning of the library at Alexandria, which began to be circulated since the seventh century of Hijrah, gradually found its way into several books of history. But the findings of the last century researchers have proved it absolutely baseless, only a fabrication of some prejudiced Christians. In the same fashion, sometimes certain truths are obscured and hidden, but after sometime they are somehow uncovered. Therefore, it is not justifiable to be totally sceptical of the historical records.
2. Causation in History:
Does absolute causation govern history? If the law of causality dominates history, it would be essential to accept that occurrence of every incident in itself should be certain and inevitable, and that some type of determinism prevails over history. If determinism governs history, then, where is the place for the individual's freedom and choice? If in reality occurrence of events is deterministic, then no one has any responsibility, and no one may deserve any praise or reproach for his deeds. If the law of causation does not govern history, there can be no universality, and if there is no possibility of generalization or universalization, history cannot have any law because law is dependent upon universality, and universality is a corollary of the principle of causality.
This is the main difficulty with regard to scientific history and philosophy of history. There are some who, on the basis of the principle of causation and the principle of universality, negate freedom and choice. They maintain that whatever is accepted in the name of freedom is not actually freedom. Contrarily, there are others who approve the principle of freedom and negate the view that history follows certain laws. Many sociologists accept the incompatibility of causality and freedom, and, therefore, they accept causality and negate freedom.
Hegel, and Marx following him, accept historical determinism. According to Hegel and Marx, freedom is nothing but consciousness of historical necessity. In the book Marx and Marxism, the following passage of Engels is quoted from his work Anti‑Duhring: Hegel was the first to state correctly the relation between freedom and necessity. To him freedom is the appreciation of necessity. Necessity is blind only in so far as it is not understood. Freedom does not consist in the dream of independence from natural laws, but in the knowledge of these laws and in the possibility this gives of systematically making them work towards definite ends. This holds good in relation both to the laws of external nature and those which govern the bodily and mental existence of men themselves. 
And also in the same book, after a brief discussion of the view that man can and should act according to his particular historical conditions and in the direction determined by those conditions, Engels says: Identifying and understanding these given conditions, render human action more effective. Every act in the opposite direction amounts to resisting and obstructing the historic course. To act in the direction determined by the historic course means moving within the course of history and participating in the process. But the question, as to what is meant by freedom, still remains to be answered. The Marxist school answers that freedom of the individual lies in his appreciation of the historical necessity, and the social movement towards which the whole course of history is directed. 
It is evident that these remarks do not solve the difficulty. The real problem regarding man's relationship with historical conditions is as follows: Does man control historical conditions? Can he give history his preferred direction? Is he able to change the course of history?
If man is unable to direct the course of history, or change it, he is forced to follow the course of history. This is the only way through which he can not only survive but also continue to evolve. If he goes in a direction opposite to that of the historic course, he will definitely perish. Now the question arises whether man is free or determined to participate in the course of history. If we accept the principle of priority of society over the individual and that the consciousness and awareness of the individual and his feelings are moulded by historical and social conditions‑especially economic conditions‑does there remain any room for individual freedom? Moreover, what is meant by the statement that `freedom is the consciousness of necessity'? Does it mean that an individual whose life is threatened by a storm and who has the full consciousness of the fact that after some time the tide would take him down into the depths of the sea, or an individual falling from a high cliff who is conscious that according to the law of gravity his bones would be crushed into pieces within a short time, is `free' to drown into the sea or fall into the valley? According to the materialistic theory of historical determinism, social conditions act as restraining factors for man, which determine his direction and mould his personality, his consciousness, his determination and choice. Man is nothing but an empty pot, merely a raw material in the hands of social conditions. Man is the product of the conditions, which are not created by him. Preceding conditions determine the future course for man. It is not man who determines the future course of historical conditions. On the basis of these notions, freedom has no sense and meaning.
In reality, human freedom cannot be conceived apart from the theory of (specific human) nature. According to this theory, in the general course of the essential movement of the universe, man enters into the world with a certain dimension that is over and above the physical universe, and this extra dimension is the essence and core of human existence. Afterwards, under the influence of the environmental factors, man's personality develops and matures. It is this existential dimension that gives man a unique human personality, so that he may rule over the tide of history and determine its course. I have already discussed this problem under the heading "Determinism or Freedom," and I shall discuss this issue further under the title, "The Role of Personality in History," when discussing the historical role of heroic figures of history.
Human freedom, in the sense pointed out, is neither inconsistent with the law of causation, nor is it incompatible with the universality of the laws of history. That man, in spite of his freedom of choice, his will and his thought, should have to adopt a predetermined, specific, and an inviolable course in social life‑a freedom loaded with necessity‑does not imply anything but the rule of blind necessity over man and his will.
The problem regarding history being subject to laws and their universality poses another difficulty. It is revealed through the study of historical events and incidents that sometimes a sequence of trivial accidents change the course of history. Of course, the accidents contrary to the belief of some people‑do not occur without any cause; such events are called `accidents' because they cannot be explained by a general and universal system of causal laws. If accidents do not follow any universal law and have played an effective role in the movement of history, then history would be regarded as devoid of any kind of specific laws. Among the accidents which have been effective in determining the course of history, the nose of Cleopatra, the well‑known queen of Egypt, has become proverbial. Many times there have been in history where, according to the well‑known saying, "A waft has ruffled the pages of history."
In his book What is History? Edward Hallett Carr writes: The other source of the attack is the famous crux of Cleopatra's nose. This is the theory that history is, by and large, a chapter of accidents, a series of events determined by chance coincidences, and attributable only to the most casual causes. The result of the Battle of Actum was due not to the sort of causes commonly postulated by historians, but to Antony's infatuation with Cleopatra. When Bajazet was deterred by an attack of gout from marching into central Europe, Gibbon observed that "an acrimonious honour falling on. a single fibre of a man may prevent or suspend the misery of nations." When King Alexander of Greece died in the autumn of 1920 from the bite of a pet monkey, this accident touched off a train of events which led Sir Winston Churchill to remark that "a quarter of a million persons died of this monkey's bite." Or take again Trotsky's comment on the fever contracted while shooting ducks which put him out of action at a critical point of his quarrel with Zinoviev, Kamenev, and Stalin in the autumn of 1923: "One can foresee a revolution or a war, but it is impossible to foresee the consequences of an autumn shooting ‑trip for wild ducks." 
In the Islamic world the instance of the defeat of Marwan ibn Muhammad, the last Umayyad caliph, is an evidence of the role of accident deciding the fate of history. During his last battle with the `Abbasids, Marwan, feeling the necessity to answer the call of nature, went aside to ease himself.
Accidentally, a person from the enemy's camp happened to pass by, he saw and killed him immediately. The news of his death spread among the soldiers of his army. As such an accident was never anticipated, his soldiers became panicky and fled from the battlefield. The Umayyad dynasty was thus overthrown. It was on this occasion that it was said: ("a dynasty was swept away by urine.").
Carr, after explaining that every accident,far from being without cause, is governed by a chain of causes and effects, which terminates another causal chain, says: How can one discover in history a coherent sequence of cause and effect, how can we find any meaning in history, when our sequence is liable to be broken or deflected at any moment by some other, and from our point of view, irrelevant sequence? 
The solution to this difficulty is dependent upon the question whether society and history have a particular direction. If history in itself has direction, the role of accidents would be insignificant, which means although certain accidents may change the position of some pawns on the chess‑board of history, they do not exercise any significant influence on the course of history as a whole. At the most, they can accelerate or arrest it for a moment. But if history is devoid of nature and personality and does not follow a path determined by its own nature, it would be without any particular direction, and also it would be impossible to formulate any universal laws and to forecast the future.
In my view, history has a specific nature and personality which is a composite product of the individual human beings who make it, and who have a natural urge for perfection. I believe that the role of accidental events does not affect historical necessity and universality of history.
Montesquieu has beautifully explained the role of accidents in history, a part of which I have quoted earlier. He says: ...if the outcome of a single battle, i.e. a particular cause, was the ruin of a state, there was a general cause which decreed that, that state was destined to perish through a single battle. 
He further says: It was not the affair of Poltava that ruined Charles. Had he not been destroyed at that place, he would have been in another. The casualties of the fortune are easily repaired; but who can be guarded against events that incessantly arise from the nature of things? 
3. Is History Materialistic in Nature?
What is the nature of history? Is the real nature of history cultural, political, economic, religious, or moral? Is history materialistic or nonmaterialistic, or a combination of both? This is one of the main questions related with history. Unless this question is not answered, our understanding of history would not be correct and sound.
It is evident that all the above‑mentioned intellectual and material factors have participated in the fabric of history. But the question arises, which of them is the determining factor that plays the most important role and is prior to all others. There has been controversy as to which of the factors represents the real spirit of history and its essence, and which of the factors is able to subordinate and explain the subsidiary role of other factors. Which of them is the base, to which others serve as superstructure?
Usually, history is compared to a machine with many motors, in which every motor is independent of the others. In fact, history is considered to have a complex not a simple nature. But if we regard it as having many motors, then what are we to think of its evolution and its course of development? It is not possible that many motors, each of them having a specific momentum pushing history in its own direction, could carry history on a specific course of evolution, unless we consider the above‑mentioned factors as the moving forces subordinate to a super‑force, the spirit of history. This spirit, by employing various historical forces,. drives it towards a predetermined evolutionary goal. It is this spirit which actually represents the essence of history. But this interpretation is different from the doctrine of monistic view of history. The nature of history is synonymous with the spirit of history, and it cannot be derived from, what are called, the moving forces of history.
In our age, a theory which has attracted many supporters is that of `historical materialism' or the `dialectical materialistic theory of history.' Historical materialism, which is an economic interpretation of history and an economic‑historical view of man‑not a humanistic interpretation of economy or history‑explains every human activity from the economic point of view. In other words, according to historical materialism, history is materialistic in nature and essence and follows a dialectical process. This means that the basis of all historical movements, revolutions, and historical manifestations of every society, is its economic structure.
They are the material forces of production of society and its relations of production which fashion history and give direction to all intellectual manifestations of a society like morality, science, philosophy, religion, law, and culture. These manifestations change with changes in the mode of production and relations of production.
The expression that history is dialectical in nature means that the evolutionary movements of history are dialectical movements caused by a series of dialectical contradictions, which are concomitant with those contradictions. Dialectical contradictions are different from nondialectical ones in the sense that every phenomenon is compelled to give rise to its own negation from within. As a result of a series of changes caused by this inner contradiction, the phenomenon undergoes a radical qualitative change at a higher level, wherein the two lower stages attain perfection through synthesis.
Thus historical materialism is comprised of two basic stands: firstly, that the nature of history is materialistic; secondly, its movements are dialectical movements. Here we shall study the first problem. The second shall be taken up while dealing with the evolution and development of history.
The theory of materialistic nature of history is based on a series of certain philosophical, psychological, and sociological principles that logically lead to other theories of ideological significance. I would like to throw some light on this subject, especially because some Muslim writers claim that although Islam does not approve of the philosophical materialism, it accepts historical materialism. Consequently they have based their own historical and sociological views on this theory. It is, therefore, essential to discuss this problem in some detail, first expounding the foundations and principles on which this theory is based and then the conclusions which are derived from them. After this exposition we shall evaluate the basis of this theory from the Islamic and scientific points of view.
Basic Principles of Historical Materialism
1. Priority of matter over spirit
Man has body as well as spirit. Human body and its functionings are the subject of biological, physical, and physiological studies. But the spirit and processes related with the soul are the subject of philosophical and psychological studies. Thoughts, beliefs, feelings, desires, concepts, and ideologies represent spiritual processes. The principle of priority of matter over spirit implies that spiritual processes are not independent, but they are only a sequence of reflections of material processes; i.e., they are caused by the influence of the conscious matter on the nerves and the brain.
These processes are significant only to the extent that they form a connecting link between the internal physical forces and the external world, but they can never dominate human existence in the manner in which its opposite forces, i.e. the material forces, do. For example, the psychical processes may be compared to the headlights of an automobile. An automobile cannot move about without its headlights in the dark hours of night. It finds its way in the light of its headlamp. But what drives it is not the headlamp but its engine.
If these psychical processes, such as thoughts, beliefs, theories and ideologies, participate in the drama of material forces of history, they assist the movement of history, but they in themselves are unable to generate any movement. They can never be compared to the material forces. Psychical processes are not independent; they depend for their existence on matter. The real forces are those which signify human existence and are identified with material forces, and which are measurable in material terms.
In this way, the psychical processes are not capable of generating movement and directing the course of history, and cannot be considered as a `lever' for the movement of society. The spiritual values have absolutely no chance to become the motivating force, the source, and the goal of a social movement, unless they serve to support and explain the material values of history and society.
Accordingly, one has to be very careful in interpreting history. This theory emphasizes that we should be cautious not to be deceived by the appearances. Occasionally, at some point in history, it may appear that a thought, belief, or a faith has brought about change in a society, and stimulated it at a particular stage of development. But if we analyse history correctly, we shall see that such beliefs do not have an independent existence; they are only the mirror‑image or reflection of material forces of society. There were actually material forces, which in the guise of those beliefs, moved and changed the society. Material forces are the progressive, leading force of history. They are represented, technically, by the society's system of production, and, from the humanistic point of view, by the deprived and exploited class of society.
Feuerbach, the famous materialist philosopher, from whom Marx himself has borrowed many of his ideas, raises the following questions: What is theory? What is praxis? What is the difference between the two?
He himself answers that: Everything which is confined to the mind is theoretical. Whatever moves the minds of many is practical necessity. It is action which unites many minds together and organizes the masses,and in this manner finds a place for itself in the world. 
And Marx, his faithful pupil, writes: It is obvious that the weapon of criticism cannot replace criticism of weapons. Only the material forces can defeat other material forces.
Marx does not believe in the independence of non‑material forces. He, at the most, recognizes their value in relation to material existence: He says: "Theory also, only by taking roots into the lives of the masses, can be transformed into a material force." 
Priority of matter over spirit, priority of the body over the mind, inessentiality of spiritual forces; and rejection of intellectual and spiritual values as fundamental, are among the basic principles of the philosophy of materialism.
Quite contrary to this philosophy is the other philosophy which is based on the essentiality of spirit, according to which all the fundamental dimensions of human existence cannot be interpreted by means of matter or its modes. In the domain of human existence, spirit is a fundamental reality, and the spiritual energies are independent of the material energies. In this way, the spiritual forces, i.e. the intellectual forces, faith, belief and emotions, are regarded as independent factors for some movements at the individual level and at the level of society. They serve as `levers' which can be used for the movement of history. Many of historical movements have ultimately arisen because of these `levers,' especially those which belong to a higher human plane. The higher individual and collective movements are independently originated by these forces, and derive their sublimity from these very forces.
Psychic forces sometimes strongly influence physical and material powers, not only at the level of voluntary activity, but also at the level of mechanical, involuntary, and physiological activity, and employ them for attaining their own specific purpose. The effects of psychical suggestions for curing physical ailments and the miraculous effects of hypnotism, which belong to the same category, cannot be overlooked.
Knowledge and faith, particularly faith, and specifically whenever these two psychic forces are harmonized, a great and useful force is generated which can create wonders by playing an extraordinarily progressive and revolutionary role in transforming the course of history.
Independence of mind and spiritual powers is one of the fundamental principles of "epistemological realism.""
2. Primacy and priority of material needs over intellectual needs
Man has at least two types of needs for his social existence. Firstly, there are the material needs, such as the need for bread, water, shelter, dress, medicine, and other such needs. Secondly, there are the intellectual needs, such as the needs for education, knowledge, literature, art, philosophical speculation, faith, ideology, prayer, morality, and other such things. These two types of needs accompany man in all situations and conditions. But which of them precedes the other? material needs or intellectual needs? or none of them? The theory of priority of material needs is based on the notion that material needs are more important and preferable. Their importance is not because of the fact that at the initial stage man is in pursuit of material needs, and when these needs are satisfied, he can divert his attention and energies towards the attainment of intellectual pursuits, but because material needs are also the basis and the source of intellectual needs. It is not that man is created with two types of needs and two types of instincts: material needs and material instincts, intellectual needs and intellectual instincts; rather man has been created with only one type of needs and one type of instincts. Intellectual needs are only secondary needs, which serve the sole purpose of gratifying the material needs in a better manner.
This is the reason why the intellectual needs, from the point of view of form, quality, and also essence, are subordinated to the material needs. In every age, man has given a specific form, character, and mode to his material needs, according to the stage of development of the means of production. His intellectual requirements, which originate in his material requirements, correspond in form, mode, and quality to his material necessities. Hence, there is a twofold relationship of priority between the material needs and the intellectual needs: priority of existence, i.e. intellectual needs are the by‑products of the material needs; and the priority of essence, i.e. the form, quality, and nature of the intellectual needs remain subordinated to that of the material needs. In his book Historical Materialism P. Royan quotes from page 92 of Hymen Louis' book Philosophical Ideas: Man's material course of existence led him to propound theories corresponding to the material needs of the time about his world, society, art, and morality; all intellectual manifestations are the resultant products of material conditions and the mode of production. 
Accordingly, scientific judgement, philosophical thought, artistic and aesthetic sensibility, moral values, and religious propensities of every human being are subject to his way of .life. Applying this maxim, "Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you think," which refers to individuals, to the society, it may be said: "Tell me what is the degree of development of the means of production, and what are the economic relations among the members of a society, and I will tell you what ideology, which philosophy and what ethics and religion the members of that society follow."
Radically opposed to this theory is the theory of independence of intellectual needs. According to it, although in the individual human being the material needs sprout up early in life‑as soon as a child is born he gropes for his mother's breast‑‑the intellectual needs which are hidden inside the human nature, blossom gradually. During the later . stages of his development and maturity, man sacrifices his material needs for the sake of intellectual. needs. Or, in other words, the urge of intellectual enjoyment is stronger and more indigenous to human nature than the physical enjoyments and attractions.  The greater an individual's education and training, the more he considers his material needs, material enjoyments, and material existence as subordinate to his intellectual needs, intellectual enjoyments‑and intellectual existence. Society also follows the same principle. In primitive societies material needs are more dominant than intellectual needs; but as society advances and becomes more refined, intellectual needs assume more important position and become the goal of human life, while material needs, becoming secondary, are demoted to a lower place as mere means to attain higher ends. 
3. Priority of action over thought
Man is a being who thinks, understands, and acts. Is action prior to thought or vice versa? Is the essence of man action or thought? Does human nobility depend upon action, or does it depend upon thought? Is man the product of action or thought?
Historical materialism is based on the idea of independence of action and its priority over thought. It considers action as the base, and thought as its offshoot. Ancient logic and philosophy considered thought as the key to action. According to that logic, thought is divided into concepts and judgements, each of which may be further divided into a priori (self‑evident) and theoretic. A priori ideas are acknowledged as the key to theoretical ideas. In that logic and philosophy, the essence of man (the self) is regarded as pure thought. Human perfection and nobility is seen as lying in wisdom. The `perfect man' is synonymous with the `man of wisdom." 
But historical materialism is established on the principle that action is the key to thought and the criterion of thought. The essence of man is his productive activity. Action is the source of man's identity and it moulds him also. Marx says, "The entire so‑called history of the world is nothing but the begetting of man through human labour. 
And Engels says, "Man himself is the creation of action.”  From the very beginning, man, instead of contemplating over natural calamities, conquered the external environment by means of his hard labour, and in the same way (through revolutionary action) he overpowered the powerful aggressors to establish a society according to his own desires. In the book Marx and Marxism, the author says: Whereas in the philosophy of being (a philosophy that interprets the world in terms of "being" as opposed to the philosophy of "becoming," which interprets the world in terms of motion. Marxism belongs to the group of the philosophies of "becoming") it was customary at first to set forth the ideas and the principles from which practical conclusions are derived; praxis (practical philosophy), on the other hand, regards action as the origin and basis of all thought. It replaces the faith in thought by the philosophy of power. In agreement with Hegel, it asserts: "The real being of man, in the first instance, is his own action." In this belief he joins the German thinker who reversed the famous phrase, "In the beginning there was the Word"‑in which the Word signifies spirit, for it is through the word that the spirit expresses itself‑and declared "In the beginning there was the Act." 
This is one of the principles of the materialistic philosophy of Marxism. This principle is known as "praxis" in the Marxist terminology, and is borrowed by Marx from his materialist predecessor, Feuerbach, and his another master, Hegel.
Opposed to this principle is the principle of the philosophy of ontological realism [idealism ] that believes in the priority of thought over action and reciprocal interaction of thought and action. In this philosophy, thought is the essence of man (e.g. the self's `knowledge by presence' of itself). Man has a reciprocal relation with action and work: he creates work and his work in turn moulds him. Man, through his action upon the external world, acquires the data of his knowledge from the external world; until the mind becomes enriched with these primary data, it remains incapable of any intelligent activity. After collecting this data, the mind reciprocally exercises its powers on the data in various fashions, as by generalization, abstraction, and inference (ratiocination). In this way, it prepares the grounds for the correct understanding of objects. Understanding is not merely the reflection of external matter in the mind. It is only after the reflection of external matter is transformed inside the mind through a series of mental processes, which originate in the nonmaterial substance of the soul, that understanding becomes possible. Hence, action is the origin of thought and thought is the origin of action. Action is the test of thought and at the same time thought is the test of action. This is not a vicious circle. Man's nobility lies in his wisdom, faith, and dignity, and in turn his work is valuable because through it he acquires these virtues. Man is the creator of his work, and, at the same time, he is also its product. This is the distinguishing characteristic of man, which is not found in any other being, and which is derived from a mode of Divine creation special to his species. 
Mans' creativity in relation to work is inventive and positive, while work's formative power in relation to man is only quantitative. It means that man actually creates his own work, but work does not really create a man. It is work, exercise, and repetitive practice, which provide the grounds for the making of man from within. Whenever there is a reciprocal relationship between two things which is inventive and positive from one side and quantitative and numerical from the other, the former is prior to the latter.
Hence man, whose essence is consciousness (`knowledge by presence' of his own self), has reciprocal relationship with work. Man creates work and work moulds man. Considering the fact that man is the necessary creative cause of work and work is merely a potential or quantitative cause of man, it may be said that man is prior to work, and work is not prior to him.
4. Priority o f the Social Existence o f Man Over His Individual Existence, or the Principle of Priority of Sociology Over Psychology
From the biological point of view, man is the most perfect of all animals. He has a kind of capacity for self‑improvement which is specific to his kind. Man is endowed with a specific personality whose dimensions form his human Dasein (existence). As a result of continued experiences and learning, the philosophical and intellectual dimension of man's existence is shaped. And due to the influence of some other factors his existence gains another dimension which is the ethical dimension. It is this dimension which is the source of all values, and basis of all the moral `musts' and `must nots'. The artistic and religious dimensions are also evolved in a similar manner. Man himself styles a system of intellectual principles which serve as the basis of his thinking within the framework of his philosophical and intellectual dimensions. In the course of his judgments, he arrives at a set of absolute and semi-absolute (comparatively relative) values in the moral and social spheres of life. All these dimensions combined together constitute human existence.
Human dimensions are entirely effects of social factors. At the time of birth, man is devoid of all these dimensions; he is actually like a raw material ready to acquire any form, ideological or emotional, depending upon the factors that exercise influence upon him. He is like an empty pot that has to be filled from outside, like a blank recording tape on which any sound can be recorded. Whatever is recorded on it is retrievable. To sum up, the actual maker of human personality, and whatever that transforms man from a `thing' into a `person,' is nothing but the external social factors, which combined together constitute that which is called social process. Man in himself is purely a `thing;' which is transformed into a `person' as a result of the impact of social factors. P. Royan in his Historical Materialism quotes from page 42 of Plekhanov's Fundamental Problems of Marxism: The characteristics of a social system are determined by the current level of development of the means of production of society. It means that when the stage of development of the means of production is determined, the characteristics of the social order and the psychology (of the people) related to it, and all the other corresponding relations within the system, on the one hand, and the ideas and the pace of progress, on the other; are also (of their own accord) determined.
In the same book, it is further stated that: When psychology, through the means of production, is determined, ideology too, which is deeply rooted in the psychology of the people, is also consequently determined. But as the ideology at a particular historical stage is the product of social requirements, and as it always continues to protect the interests of the ruling class, it necessarily strengthens and perfects the existing social structure. Hence the social structure in class‑societies, which comes into existence for protecting the ruling class and propagating its ideology, is in reality the result of the social order and its requirements, and, in the last analysis, is the product of the character of the modes and the means of production. For instance, the church and the mosque are for preaching of the religious beliefs, which in all the religions are based upon the faith in the final judgement or resurrection. The belief in resurrection is the logical outcome of the particular social order that is based upon the division of society into classes, which in its turn is the product of a particular stage of development of the means of production. Hence, belief in resurrection is the product of the means of production (at a particular stage of social development).
In contrast to this principle is another anthropological principle which is based upon the view that the foundation of human personality, from which man's intellect and higher ideals arise, is itself inherent in human nature, ingrained in him by the agents which are responsible for his creation. It is correct that man, contrary to the well-known theory of Plato, is not born with a ready‑made and finished personality, but the real foundation of his personality is inborn, not acquired from the society. If we want to interpret this idea in philosophical terms, we shall have to say that the real source of the human dimensions of man's existence‑including the moral, religious, philosophical, artistic, scientific, literary, and emotional dimensions‑ have their origin in his rational self, which is man's distinguishing characteristic, and is bestowed upon him by the process of creation itself. Society fosters man, nurtures him, or distorts him according to his individual aptitudes. At first the rational self is potential, then it gradually attains actuality. In this way, man, according to the basic principles of thought, and also according to the principle governing his material and intellectual inclinations and aptitudes, is like all the other living beings, whose all faculties are potential in the beginning, and as a result of a series of mutational movements (harakat jawhariyyah) gradually actualize, develop, and attain perfection. Man, under the influence of external factors, nourishes and cultivates his innate personality and attains perfection, or sometimes he deviates from the normal course and distorts it. This is the same principle which in Islamic writings is called the "principle of nature," and is regarded as the mother principle in Islamic teachings.
On the basis of the principle of nature, human psychology is prior to human sociology. Sociology itself originates in human psychology. According to this principle of nature, although at the time of birth man possesses neither perception nor imagination, neither the power of judgement nor human aptitudes, he however is born with some existential dimensions besides his animal dimensions. It is because of the same dimensions that he gradually evolves a sequence of abstract ideas and judgements (in philosophical and logical terms, the `secondary concepts') which form the real foundation of human thought, and without which any kind of logical reasoning is impossible. The same dimensions develop a series of sublime aspirations in man, and are considered to. be the foundation of human personality.
According to the theory of priority of human sociology over human psychology, man is merely a passive receiver, not an active seeker. He is a raw material which is indifferent to any form given to him, a blank tape on which any song can be recorded. In it there is no kind of inherent movement towards any fixed preordained form. Whatever form is given to it is accepted without causing any distortion; because it neither has any form of its own, nor is any form alien to it. The tape does not require any particular song, because of its ability to receive any song without being alienated or estranged from its own essence or nature. The relation of this raw material to all forms, the relation of the tape to all songs, and the relation of the pot to whatever fills it, are similar and of the same kind.
But according to the principle of nature and the principle of priority of human psychology over human sociology, although in the beginning man lacks actual understanding and actual inclinations, from within he moves in a dynamic way towards a series of primary judgements, which are called a priori or primary principles. He also moves towards a series of higher, sublime values which constitute his ideals of humanity. After that a set of simple ideas, which are the primary elements of thought (and are called in philosophical term `primary concepts'), enters into his mind from outside; those principles emerge in the form of a system of theoretical or practical judgements, and the innate human inclinations gradually assume definite form in the course of time.
According to the first theory, man, under the existing conditions, believes for example, that the arithmetical formula, 2 x 2 = 4, as being absolutely true for all times and places. But actually this belief is a product of specific conditions; which means that it is due to the prevailing conditions which make it true, and it is just possible that under different conditions and a different environment the judgement would be quite different, such as 2 x 2 = 26.
But according to the second theory, although the external conditions help man to arrive at the idea of numbers 2, 4, 8, 10 and so on, but the calculations like 2 x 2 = 4 or 5 x 5 = 25 are essential products of the human mind, and it is impossible for them to have different forms: Similarly the perfectionist tendencies of human nature are also inseparably essential characteristics of man's mind or soul. 
5. Priority of Material Aspect of Society Over its Intellectual Aspect
Society is comprised of different strata, classes, and structures: economic, cultural, administrative, political, religious, legal, etc. From this angle, a society seems to be quite similar to a complete house where a family dwells and which consists of a drawing room, bedroom, kitchen, toilet etc.
One of the different social structures is that which serves the purpose of the base or the foundation of the whole structure, upon which stands the system and the superstructure. If it is disturbed or collapses, the whole structure is necessarily bound to fall. It is the economic structure of the society. The social structure of the society consists of whatsoever is related with its system of material production, such as tools and means of production, sources and relations of production.
Tools of production, which comprise the most important part of the social structure, are themselves always changing and developing. Every stage in the development of the tools of production, necessitates a specific system of relations of production which negates all that existed prior to it in the society.
The type of relations of production existing in a society depends upon particular laws and conditions concerning the institution of ownership, which really means the laws and conditions that govern the members of society and their conventional relationship with the sum. total of the product of society. With inevitable changes in the relations of production, the basis of all legal, intellectual, moral, religious, philosophical, and scientific principles is bound to change. In one sentence: economy is the foundation of society.
In the book Marx and Marxism, a passage from Marx's preface to his work The Critique of Political Economy is quoted: In the social production of their life, men enter into specific relations that are indispensible and independent of their will, relations of production which correspond to a definite stage of development of their material productive forces. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which rises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political, and intellectual life‑process in general. It is not the consciousness of man that determines their being, but on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness. 
In the same book Marx's letter to Annenkov is also quoted: Assume a particular state of development in the productive facilities of man and you will get a corresponding form of commerce and consumption. Assume particular degrees of development of production, commerce, and consumption and you will have a corresponding organization of the family, or orders or of classes, in a word a corresponding civil society. 
Peter explains Marx's view in the following words: In this fashion Marx has compared the society to a building, the base and foundation of which are the economic institutions, whose superstructure (the building itself) is comprised of political, religious, and legal patterns, customs and norms. As in the case of a building, it depends upon the position of its base and foundation, the economic forms (relations of production) and technical modes are also dependent upon and associated with the modes of thinking, the political system and the customs, and each of them is subject to economic conditions. 
The same book quotes from Lenin's Marx‑Engels Marxism a passage reproduced from the third volume of The Capital: The mode of production manifests itself in the human activity in relation to nature and, followini that, in social conditions and intellectual patterns resulting from them. 
The same book quotes further from the Preface to a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy: My investigations led to the result that the legal relations as well as forms of the state are to be grasped neither from themselves nor from the so‑called-general development of the human mind, but rather have their roots in the material conditions of life ....the anatomy of civil society is to be sought in political economy. 
Marx, in his book The Poverty of Philosophy, has written: Social relations are closely bound up with productive forces. In acquiring new productive forces, men change their mode of production; and in changing their mode of production, in changing the way of earning their living, they change all their social relations. The hand mill gives you a society with the feudal lord; the steam‑mill, a society with the industrial capitalist. 
The theory of the primacy of material structure of society in relation to other social formations corresponds to the theory of priority of action over thought. The theory of priority of action over thought is applicable to the individual level, and the theory of priority of material aspect over other social aspects is actually based upon the theory of priority of action over thought but at the level of society. Since the advocates of this view also advocate the theory of priority of human sociology over human psychology, hence the priority of individual action over individual thought is a form and result of the theory of priority of material aspect over other social aspects. Contrarily, if human sociology is considered to be prior to human psychology, the priority of material aspect of society over its other aspects would be considered as the effect and result of the priority of individual action over individual thought.
The material aspect of society, which may be also termed as the economic structure or economic base, consists of two constituents: firstly, the tools of production, which are the product of man's relation with nature; and, secondly, the economic relations of the members of society on the grounds of distribution of wealth, which are sometimes termed as the "relations of production." Often both of them are referred to as "the means of production" or "the mode of production."  It should be noted that these terms used by the founders of historical materialism are not free from ambiguity, and are not well defined and specific.  When they say that economy is the base and the material aspect of society is prior to other social aspects, they mean the whole system of production, but generally refer to the‑tools of production and relations of production.
Special attention should be paid to an important point fully explicit in the writings of the founders of historical materialism that the base itself is two‑tiered; a part of it acts as the base for the other part, which is built upon it. The basis, the real foundation at the bottom of the structure consists of the tools of production, i.e. the physical labour materialized. It is the physical labour which creates and posits particular economic relations according to the distribution of wealth. These relations, which reflect the degree of the development of the tools of production, are not only in harmony with the tools of production, but are also considered to be their incentive and motivating force. It means that the specific economic relations in a society are the means of deriving the greatest benefit from the tools of production. They are like a garment tailored to fit the body, i.e. the means of production. But the tools of production in themselves are subject to development. .Any . change in the tools of production can disturb the harmony between the two constituent parts of the system of production. The productive and economic relations, i.e. those laws which were evolved to suit the earlier tools of production, become outdated in the same manner as a child's dress does not fit the fully grown‑up man, and hinders his free movement. Similarly the primitive tools do not suit a more developed society and obstruct its growth by creating contradiction between the two tiers of production structure. The new tools of production are inevitably established and the base, i.e. the economic structure of society, is totally transformed and, in consequence of this change, the legal, moral, philosophical, and religious superstructure is also overthrown.
Keeping in mind the primacy of collective labour, i.e. labour materialized which is represented by the tools of production, and also considering the fact that Marx is one of those sociologists who regard sociology as being prior to psychology, who also considers man qua man as a social being or in his own words "sui generic", the philosophical role of labour according to Marxism‑which is the essence of the Marxist philosophy and to which little attention has been paid becomes clear.
Marx gives the same importance to human labour in the context of human existence that Descartes gives to the rational being of man, Bergson to the dynamic aspect of human existence, and Jean Paul Sartre to man's feeling of guilt.
Descartes says, "I think, therefore I am" (Cogito ergo sum). Bergson says, "I have continuity, therefore I exist." Sartre says, "I feel‑guilty, therefore I exist." Marx would have said, "I work, therefore I exist."
Apart from these diverse modes of existence (thought, continuity, guilt etc.), none of these thinkers tries to posit human existence or `ego' in absolute terms. Some of them even maintain that man's existence cannot be conceived beyond and apart from one of these specific modes. Moreover, everyone of them wants to define man's essence and reality of human existence in these terms only.
For instance, Descartes intends to say, "My existence is synonymous with the existence of my thought; eliminate thought, and I am nothing." Bergson intends to say, "Human existence is identical with continuity and time (duration)." Sartre also intends to say that "man's essence and actuality of his existence lies in the sense of guilt; take away guilt from human nature, and man is nothing." Marx also in his turn intends to say, "The whole of man's existence and his actual being is work. Work is the essence of humanity; I labour, therefore I am. It is not in this sense that work is the proof of the existence of my self, but in the sense that work itself is identical with the existence of my self; work is my actual existence."
Marx says, "For a socialist person the entire so‑called history of the world is nothing but begetting of man through human labour."  He distinguishes human consciousness from man's real existence, and says, "It is not the consciousness of man that determines his being, but his social being that determines his consciousness. "'  He further says that the premises with which we start are not self‑willed or absolute, but are derived from real individuals, their actions, and from material conditions of existence. He explains the term "real individual" in the following words: "But the real individuals act not according to the whims which cross their imagination... but according to what they materially produce and make; i.e. they act on the basis of definite material conditions and certain limitations‑ conditions which are independent of their will." 
Engels says: "Labour is the source of all wealth, the political economists assert... but it is infinitely more than this. It is the prime basic condition for all human existence, and this is true to such an extent that, in a way, we should say that it is labour which has created man himself."  All these extracts from the writings of the founders of Marxism indicate their emphasis on the role of labour. However, Marx and Engels have borrowed this idea regarding the role of labour from Hegel, who said, "The real being of man, in the first instance, is his action." 
Hence, according to Marxism, existence of man is primarily social and not individual. Secondly, the social existence of man is synonymous with his materialized labour, i.e. collective labour. All individual modes like feelings and emotions, or all social modes such as morality, philosophy, art, religion etc. are only expressions and manifestations of man's real being; they are not identical with his being itself: Accordingly, the actual evolution of man is identical with the development of collective labour. But intellectual, emotional, and spiritual development or evolution of the social system is only a manifestation and reflection of the real development and not the development itself. The material development of a society is the criterion of its intellectual development. As action is the criterion for judging thought, truth or falsity of an idea is also judged through action and not by intellectual or logical standards. In the same way, the measure of intellectual development also is material development. Hence, if the question arises as to which school of philosophy, morality, religion or art is more progressive, the intellectual and logical standards cannot provide the answer to this question. The only criterion should be to see what are the conditions of which that particular school of thought is the product and manifestation, and at which stage of development of social labour or tools of production it has emerged.
This type of thinking is, of course, very strange to people like us who consider the real existence of man as his own `self' and this `self,' too, an immaterial substance and a product of mutational movements of nature and not the product of society. But for one like Marx, who thinks in material terms and does not believe in the immaterial substance, is bound to interpret the essence of man and his a6tuality from a biological point of view, and say that the essence of man is identical with the physical constitution of his body, as the ancient materialists, like the materialists of the eighteenth century, believed. But Marx has rejected the mechanistic view of life and has claimed that the being of man is grounded in society not in nature. Whatever has been formed by nature is the potential human being, not the actual one.
Furthermore, either Marx should regard thought as the essence of humanity, and work as the manifestation and expression of thought or, on the contrary, he should consider labour as the essence of humanity and thought as the manifestation and expression of labour. Marx, being a materialist, not only does approve of the primacy of matter in the individual, but also rejects the idea of any supra material essence besides the individual's material existence. In the context of society and history also, he accedes to the priority of matter. As a result he has to adopt the second alternative.
Here a basic difference between the point of view of Marx and that of other materialists concerning the nature of history comes to light. Every materialist, since he considers man and other manifestations of his existence as material, inevitably tends to regard history also as materialistic. But what Marx says is more than this. Marx tries to say that history is essentially economic in character, and in economics, too, the economic relations of production occupy the most important place. Since he considers the economic and production relations, i.e. the relation of workers with the products of their labour, as essential and necessary, derived from the stage of development of the tools of production, Marx's viewpoint is‑ that history is determined by the tools or instruments of production. Merely to say that history is materialistic in nature, or to say that history is economic in nature, is not enough to define the Marxian viewpoint. We should notice that according to Marx the essence and nature of history is "instrumentalistic." I, in some of my works ,  have termed Marx's historical materialism as an "instrumentalist theory," which is opposed to my own "humanistic theory" of history.
Actually, the manner in which Marx is absorbed in his philosophy of labour and conceives the idea of `social labour,' shows that human beings as he conceives them are not the same as those who walk in the streets and think and resolve, but as if they are, in fact, like tools and machines in factories. Human beings who walk, talk, and think are seen as images of the `real' human beings conceived by Marx. Marx's view of social labour and tools of production seems to advance a view according to which man is a being who acts blindly and mechanically without any resolution and will. He is merely a shadow of man, not man himself, whose development and progress is determined strictly externally and who has no will or purpose of his own, and is forced to follow a predetermined path blindly.
It may be said that whatever Marx has said regarding the priority of collective labour over the conscious mind and human will sounds to be quite similar to the views expressed by some of the religious thinkers about the unconscious functionings of human organs, such as the functioning of digestive system, heart, liver etc., which are considered to operate under the influence of a hidden single will. According to these thinkers, desires, wishes, 'oughts' and `ought nots,' and consequently the matters which are related to the practical aspect of the mind, i.e. the lower, functional, and physiological sides of the human self, which appear on the surface of the conscious mind and without its knowing their origin, are reflections of a series of compulsive natural needs originating from the subconscious. It is similar to what has been termed by Freud as the subconscious or the unconscious, which dominates the conscious mind.
The views of those ancient thinkers and that of Freud, however, relate to a part of the conscious mind and to the influence of a concealed consciousness. Besides, whatever they talk about is not external to human existence; but what Marx says is external to human existence.
Careful observation shows that Marx's theory is quite astonishing from the philosophical point of view.
Marx compares his own discovery with the well‑known biological discovery of Darwin. Darwin has proved that a process quite external to the animal's will and consciousness gradually and unconsciously causes biological changes in the course of time. Marx also claims that a blind process (identical with the real existence of man) gradually and unconsciously causes the formation of the social structure, i.e. all the things named by Marx as superstructure, and even a part of the base also, i.e. the socio‑economic relations. He says, "Darwin has called the attention of scientists towards the history of natural selection, the formation of organs in plants and animals corresponding to the means of production necessary for their survival. Isn't the history of generation and formation of organs producing the social human being, i.e. the material basis of all types of social organizations, worthy of such a treatment? ...Natural selection lays bare the modes of human action vis‑a‑vis nature; the mode of production lays bare man's material existence, and as a result, the source of social relations, thought, and intellectual products that spring from it." 
It is quite obvious from all that we have said about the theory of historical materialism that it is based on several other theories, some of which are psychological and others are sociological, some philosophical and others anthropological.