By Raad Salam
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Despite its proliferation due to Christian globalisation, it is only in the twentieth century that conscience has become a truly globalised concept in the interreligious sense. Together with such notions as democracy and human rights, the wide-spread reference to conscience in everyday usage is probably one of the best examples one can find of globalisation in its linguistic and cultural mode. Most languages, including those that lack a classical parallel to the notion of conscience, have coined words for conscience that have become an integral part of vernacular usage.
Among modern Muslim thinkers, both Fazlur Rahman and Farid Esack have singled out taqwā as the closest parallel to conscience. Taqwā can be translated either Islamic ethics: knowing with whom? 39 as piety, fear of God or God-consciousness. 70 In the view of Fazlur Rahman, taqwā is‘perhaps the most important single term in the At its highest, it denotes the fully integrated and whole personality of man’. ). Also Farid Esack, in his outline of a social-ethical hermeneutic of the equates taqwā with conscience: taqwā is‘heeding the voice of one’s conscience in the awareness that one is accountable to God’ (Esack 1997:87).
Since Thomas (differently from Bonaventure) sees erroneous conscience primarily as an intellectual and not as a willrelated problem, his system provides a conceptual space for the guidance and authority of the church. Since reason and thus conscientia may err and will may sin, the church needs to train her believers in the right application of conscientia. Only thus can they— informed by an infallible synderesis, but liable to error in the process of application— Human conscience and Muslim–Christian Relations 28 reach the right conclusions and the right actions.