Sunday, December 6, 2009


To know only what is known is a tragedy. (Zhuangzi)

A man goes to knowledge as he goes to war -- wide awake, with fear, with respect, and with absolute assurance. Going to knowledge or going to war in any other manner is a mistake, and whoever makes it, will live to regret his steps.

Don Juan Matus (Carlos Castenada)

On the Third Way

So what is the Third Way (3W)?

The Third Way is the Way of the intelligentsia, of the intellectual community.

Who are the members of the intellectual community?

First and foremost everyone who is in a school, college, or university is a member of the intelligentsia. Following them, everyone who has been to the school, college, or university, or who wishes to enter any such institution, is also the member of the intellectual community.

What are the other two ways or perspectives from which the third Way distinguishes itself?

While the first way is advocated by the modernist, secular intelligentsia, the second way is upheld by the religious intelligentsia. The first one was founded by the Western intelligentsia between the 16th to 18th centuries and is now also followed by many in the non-Western world. Modern or secular intelligentsia is internally divided into liberal and Marxist camps. These two camps are together also referred to by the word modernity.

The second way emerged in opposition to the first way after its global domination. It is presently espoused chiefly by the religious intelligentsia in Pakistan and the Islamic world. It is also advocated by the intelligentsias of other religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and so forth.

The advocates of the first and the second ways or perspectives are currently at war with each other. The third Way offers a peaceful way out of this global conflict which is causing great distress and disruption in our everyday life.

The third Way is born in opposition, or through criticism of the two established ways. Through this critique, it is claimed, the 3W provides right (conceptual) tools to make sense of our world as well as means of a peaceful way of life.

The main premise of this critique is this. While the modern, secular, intellectual community sacrifices the past for the sake of the present, the religious intelligentsia rejects the present in its love and glorification of the past. The 3W, on the other hand, celebrates both the present and past and attempts to unify them in a single continuity.

In the following pages is given an understanding of the third Way (which we would also call the Way). It begins with a narrative, or an account of Dr. Shuja Alhaq’s existential crisis which led to his finding of the third perspective.

The third Way is best expounded through the course on History of Knowledge which is currently being given by Dr. Alhaq at the Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU) Multan, Pakistan. Its course outline, reading list or bibliography and elaboration of some of its main themes is also given below.

The third Way, let us remember, is basically a non-Western perspective of history and looking at the world. It is therefore addressed to the non-Western audience, which may be heard by the Western intelligentsia indirectly.

The whole point of this exercise is that this world will be a different, safe and beautiful place when the third Way becomes the dominant perspective of the intellectual community.

After the narrative about the genesis of the Way, the discourse begins with the principle question of our times, which is the relation between modernity and tradition (or science and religion), or between our present and past. Since the beginning of this century, our world is driven by this question, though both camps of the modern intelligentsia are either not prepared to accept that this is the ultimate question of our times, or continue to come up with the old, stereotyped answers. Their addiction to their past is apparently no less deadly than that of their adversaries’.