Islam students at LUC

Archive for July 24th, 2010

Finding moral values as an agnostic is automatic for me, yet difficult to articulate when confronted about my nonbelief. One thing I find myself doing is separating the theology from the philosophy of a religious figure’s teachings in order to still respect the person and gain a moral message. With Eastern religions, I can find plenty of morality in the teachings of Confucius or the Buddha which don’t get too God-heavy. It is often difficult with Western religions, however, because the overriding message usually consists of “submit to God,” which I still find myself unable to do. With much more care and deeper looking, I am usually able to find plenty of teachings. With Moses, his eternal “Let my people go” is a rebuke to slavery, a political statement that I can agree with. Jesus had plenty to say when he wasn’t using more theological verbiage about God’s kingdom. Loving your neighbor as yourself or turning the other cheek are perfect examples.
Something I would love to find by the end of this class is that equivalent from the Prophet Muhammad. Already I am excited to have read of his exemplary honesty, his declarations of the equality of all people, and the kindness I found in accounts of simple friendly deeds committed by the Prophet. With time, I’m sure I will find even more morality to extract from another of the world’s religions.

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Women rights should not be separate from religion and her right should be provided as explained in Quran.  As far I know women have given same rights as man in Islam.  They are allow to work outside of home IF really need it.  Girls can’t be force to marry anyone, their approval is necessary.  As far concerned about wearing Hijab it does say in Islam women should have her hair covered.  But we have seen in many countries that women wear Burqa, I think they do that for their own self protection because you will find men staring at women all the time.  As far you talking about stoning a lady to death after her husband have passed away…is happening a lot in areas where there is no education or people living in small villages.  So stoning women to death, men want to have dominant power, women wearing burqa, not allowing to work outside of home, getting girl married without her permission; is all culture based.

Professor, please correct me if I am wrong.

Thank you for the stats in your post and your post in general. I think the readings make an attempt to alter the perception of Islam through various ways.  The readings hold true to the religion of Islam and there isn’t a forceful tone to them.  Instead, they invite readers to explore and stay open minded towards the text that is given.  Readers are invited to reflect for themselves.  The books on Prophet Muhammad and the articles we read online are directed to both Muslims and non-Muslims.  Depending on which perspective the reader is coming from, each person will get a different lesson or reflection from the reading.  I think that is a very important quality of the readings.  Just like how Professor Mozaffar told our class to bring things up in class to address, the writers seemed to have done the same.  They have addressed their topic from a variety of angles so that no matter who is reading their text, there will be something that sticks with the reader.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the learning process that has taken place so far and looking forward to the rest of the class. 

 

Tariq Ramadan

Posted on: July 24, 2010

While reading Tariq Ramadan’s book, In the Footsteps of the Prophet, I couldn’t help but be struck by his writing and the Prophet Muhammad’s story.  I knew some of Prophet Muhammad’s story due to friends and a previous class so I was aware of the fact that he was a pretty amazing man.  However, this reading really opened my eyes.  I really appreciated how Tariq Ramadan explained the lessons one can learn from Prophet Muhammad’s life–even before prophethood.  The fact that Muhammad was an ordinary person before learning he was a prophet deserves great respect, as another blogger mentioned.  What I find even more admirable is that Muhammad didn’t exactly have an ordinary life, he actually had a not-so-easy life, but he came out of his rough childhood with great morals and a deep understanding of the world he was brought up in.  Tariq Ramadan captured the importance of his childhood for his future prophethood.  His time spent in the desert taught him the importance of nature.  Nature holds an infinite amount of signs of the Creator and meditating on what it gives and takes away from us teaches us great lessons of faith.  One of the first lessons of faith come from nature.  Tariq has amazing writing ability and great insight; reading his book was a great and in-depth complement to the lectures in class.

In class we have barely touched on women rights but it still confuses me on how Islam plays a role in women rights. Shouldn’t that be separate from religion, if anything? This really came to my attention because of the recent events stoning a lady to death in Iran all the way to banning hookah in Palestine (or many people know it as Israel). I can kind of understand the concept behind banning hookah because it could be perceived as ‘sexual’ to others. Not that I approve of it, I can understand their thinking behind it. However, I can’t wrap my head around how people in the modern day can stone a lady to death. They did this because her husband passed away and then she decided to move on a start seeing another man. Shouldn’t she be able to enjoy her life too? It might be because men want to have dominant power, but reading about what Prophet Muhammad wanted it doesn’t make sense to me. Prophet Muhammad wanted his followers to have mercy and forgiveness. Or is it just that a country’s culture now is getting mixed up with religion?

I think you are a bit too harsh on criticizing our fellow students. I think many of our classmates were simply raised in Christian families; therefore, they may be comparing two faiths. They just comparing what they know – Christianity with what they do not – Islam. I also think that Christianity at some point was influenced by the Western philosophy. United States and Europe were build on Western (Greek philosophy) concepts. I think it can be another reason why many people are comparing Christianity with Islam. They simply are comparing two different philosophies. By comparing, we can find similarities and realize that we have much more in common that we thought at the beginning. I do not think that finding similarities is a bad thing or it is closed minded. Finding similarities in many cases is the beginning of a dialogue that we need so much in our society. I think that is the good thing about comparing things – finding similarities to find bases for dialogue. Besides no one said that Christianity is given truth or some sort of standard. If that would be the case probably no one will be in the class “Introduction to Islam” because why would anyone need to know anything about other religion if one would think that Christianity is the only truth or standard? I think many classmates just realized that those two faiths are really close in their concepts.

Both books on Muhammad, and even the articles we compared, struck me as having a natural defensiveness in tone, mostly in the introductions. It is very understandable considering they were written after the terrorist attacks in 2001, a turning point in American perception and tolerance of Islam. I found this most interesting because of how quickly many Americans, regardless of their lack of understanding of the religion or its people immediately developed perceptions of Islam and its people based largely on misconception as a direct result of a single event. Statistics reveal how hard it has been to be Muslim in America since 9/11, and it’s true.

According to Microtrends, by  Mark J. Penn, in the chapter on “Moderate Muslims” written in 2007:

•  “Almost half of Americans have a negative view of Islam. When asked to rate their views of all major religions, only Scientology ranks lower”

•  “Nearly half (46%) of Americans believe that Islam encourages violence more than other religions”

•  “More than half of Americans say Muslims are not respectful of women”.

•  “44% (of Americans) say that Muslims are too extreme in their religious beliefs.”

•  “22% (of Americans) say they wouldn’t want a Muslim living next door.”

This obviously negative perception of a religion and its people are quite interesting considering the actual demographic portrait of Muslims in America, and especially if any one of these Americans surveyed were to spend some actual time learning about the foundational principles of Islamic religion and how religiously tolerant, merciful, conservative, and morally focused the religion actually is. Here’s the reality behind the negative and ill-conceived perceptions of Muslims and Islam:

• “American’s think Muslims are violent? An overwhelming 81% of American Muslims support gun control”— compared to only 52% of Americans

•  “Muslims are religiously extreme? 25% of Muslims say they attend religious services on a weekly basis—virtually identical to the 26% of Americans who also say they do.”

•  “40% of Muslims say they are moderate—identical to the American proportion overall”

Despite the misconceptions of Muslims and Islam, the average Muslim in America is “young, family-oriented, well-educated, prosperous, and politically active.” This seems to be a stark contrast to the political and religious climates that have created the negative perception of this group and explain the defensiveness in the introductions to our readings. But, i think it is a very important point to consider. After all, the notion that ‘perception is reality” seems to hold true. And unfairly, at best. Everyone and every religion deserves to be evaluated within an educated and informed criteria that seeks to understand the truth and not just jump to conclusions based on the actions of a few misrepresentations. After being in an Intro to Islam class for just a few weeks I have learned so much that I hadn’t known about the religion that has painted a dramatically different picture than the media and general American perception has in the past decade.