Islam students at LUC

Archive for July 24th, 2010

Readings for the class are very interesting. Unfortunately, I cannot keep up with them but trying to do my best. I wanted to take this class because I needed clarification about Islam. What I hear in the news or read on the internet made me really wonder about Islam. The picture of Islam we can get from media is quite scary. We can hear about people killing others in “Holy War”, women being mutilated, or people being lashed. On the other hand, I had a pleasure of working with a Muslim, and he showed me quite different picture of Islam. Many times my friend was explaining to me scriptures of Koran and basic things about his faith. The book “Memories of Muhammad” was a great lecture that revealed to me things I did not know about. This book shows Muhammad as a great man who was trying to help anybody no matter of one’s faith. I really like the citations from the Koran. I was really scared of it at the beginning because I thought it will be written in the hard to understand language. I find out that the language of the Koran is easy to understand and lessons we can take from Koran are universal and can be applied to anyone. “Memories of Muhammad” really showed me that some people are trying to use Islam for their own purpose giving this religion a bad name.

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While reading the introduction to Safi’s “Memories of Muhammad”, I came across a cited verse of the Quran with regard to warfare: “slay the idolaters wherever you find them and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the charity tax, then leave their way free. Lo! God is forgiving, merciful.”  The casual reader must be thinking, “what comes first here; the slaying or the taking of prisoners?” “And then the option for conversion and repentance; is this given on the battlefield, or only for those who are taken prisoner?” There is a huge danger here associated with a “face value” fundamentalist  interpretation of the text.  Personally, I take comfort in some of the parallels between early Islamic and Judeao/Christian sacred writings.  That is, it appears that the historical critical approach to interpretation is an absolute necessity for all three monotheistic faiths.

After reading the Mattson book, I have considered how in depth and multi-facated some of the verses are  in the Qur’an. It is really cool to consider all the different levels of meaning within a given verse. Mattson makes the point that the realities of the Divine are complex so it follows then that the Divine message should have many layers. This totally makes sense to me. It is also easier to swallow than some other religious leaders trying to say that a certain passage in a given holy book has one interpretation and one only. Though I am not religious, and it is hard for  me to have faith that God’s word is written is some book on earth, the complexity of the Qu’ran’s passages makes the holy story a little more believable; it would have taken a really special human to have come up with that kind of symbolism etc. I am sure that there is no chance that I could have realized all this on my own, but Mattson does a good job giving explanation to all that what meant but the written passages.

It is interesting how in the Qur’an how similar our society is to Islam.  For the most part men are the ones that are more into politics and women are the ones who are more out-going and are the ones who build the relationships with people around them.  Not saying that women aren’t into politics but out of the people I have met over the years it seems like more men are into politics and talking about it as well as their jobs.  I wonder how over the years things will change in Islam. I mean obviously there are families here in the states that have modernized, which I have met some that don’t follow everything from Islam but they do believe in the Islamic beliefs.

I talked before about this and commented on another student’s blog about how similar the beliefs of God forgiving is the same in Christianity and Islam.  As long as we do good we will be forgiven if we were to mess up and need to repent, ask for forgiveness.

After reading a couple of the Surah’s in class a lot of my fear about reading more of the Qur’an went away. So far, they were fairly easy to interpret. I assumed there was going to be a deeper meaning that would be much harder for an outsider to understand and make sense of. However, they are easier than what I’ve experienced with the Bible. This however is coming from only reading a couple Surahs. They have an easy flow and  some have a poetic feel to them. I question the translation though. Considering Allah didn’t give the text to Muhammad in english, I wonder if translations are correct. Meaning I wonder if what were reading in English is exactly what Allah has intended for us to take in. Also, considering Muhammad couldn’t read or write and therefore didn’t write down the words given to him, he just recited them. It reminds me of the childhood game of telephone. By the time the message gets passed through so many people the end result is nothing like what was originally said. I wonder if over time people have changed what was originally recited by Muhammad and if they did how much of a difference it really made.

After reading the other posts, I am sad to say that I am surprised by how closed-minded my fellow loyola students are. One would think that young, educated people could think broadly enough to consider Islam without first comparing it to Christainity. Not that making comparisons isn’t a valid way to learn, it’s just disappointing to see people upholding Christianity as the given truth or standard without giving consideration to other possibilites or ways of thinking. Why did people even sign up for this course if their first reaction is to make criticisms of islam and compare it to the almighty Christianity?  Frankly, I don’t even understand why it is relevant if Christains are persecuted just as much as Muslims or if Christianity is really the oldest religion. Is there some kind of competition the Christians are trying to win?

I was raised Catholic, and this kind of thinking makes me ashamed at how closed minded Christains can be.

One of the first things we learned was that God is merciful, according to Muslims and that in regards to Christians and Catholics beliefs God is one of love. I never really agreed with that. I was raised Catholic, as were probably a handful of us here, and love wasn’t something I viewed God has having. I was more or less scared of him. Having to meet every so often with a priest and dig up dirt on bad things I’ve done and confess so that God would have mercy on my soul. I didn’t view that in way which way as loving. So, when asking if God is merciful or loving I think the best answer is both. I feel as though our view of God is the ultimate parent. Sure they love you, that is a given because they made you, but you can’t just go through life doing whatever you please or your parents will step in. Parents walk a fine line of both. Therefore in my eyes God is just everyone’s strict yet loving father.