Ethics before Creativity

Justice is the basis of urbanisation” is the letteral translation of one of the famous lines of “Al-Muqaddimah”; “Introduction”, the great book of Ibn Khaldun, the well-known ancient Arab philosopher, sociologist, and historian. However, the word that he used was not literary urbanisation. The Arabic language is well known for the nuance differences between alternatives it offers that may not simply translate into one word in other languages. Hence, the original Arabic word “Umran” which he chose for the exact type of urbanization that results from justice reveals, is that of good quality to prosper as a civilization. Ethics and creativity are not often discussed as intertwined nor conditional in the various capacity building programmes across the world, although they are. It seems like creativity is equally influenced by physical boundaries as studies have revealed (i.e. proportions of a room, the height of the ceiling … etc) as well as by the closer boundaries and dead ends that a lack of belief and trust deeply establishes in oneself.

For a creative mind to function there has to be not only passion but safety and trust first and foremost. Safety is not only deeply ingrained in our survival mode, but also in the necessary feeling of reassurance to invest time and effort. It is such a wise way we as creatures are designed to be selective, cautious and efficient. In an age of endless alternatives, organizations thrive to be creative enough to stand out, to keep up with the pace of development and to survive their business. Yet, ethical issues continue to grow in our age and even within the same bodies striving to prosper. Perhaps because the issue of justice is unlike that of creativity; it is no more a question of doing than a question of being. It cannot unconditionally conform to practicalities of business; it is more a matter of existence. Therefore, teaching the members of a team to do something is relatively easier and probably what needs more consideration is how we teach one to be.

Ibn-Khaldun has also asserted the strong link between urbanization and justice when he reversed the relationship between the two in another famous line of his: “Injustice brings about the ruin of civilisation“. The strong emphasis put on this principle since ancient times not only by the famous philosopher raises the question about our organisations nowadays; will they ever focus on more justice just as they focus on more creativity?!.

“Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due and when you judge between people to judge with justice”. Surat An-Nisa’ [4:58] “Justice is the foundation of governance”. Omar bin Abdul Aziz-Caliph of Muslims during the first century of Islam. Photo after, last accessed: 29.06.2021, 20:06.


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