Islam students at LUC

Archive for September 2010

In class tonight we discussed the pros and cons surrounding the issue of whether Muhammad should have named a successor, and why he never chose one.  Some see him has the last great prophet, and therefore, it would follow naturally, that he would not have named someone else to be another prophet.  While this may be logical, he could have still appointed or told someone to be a leader/guide for the greater Muslim community.  A leader does not necessarily have to be a proclaimed “prophet.”  Moreover, it is clear that any community that is held together or organized by a certain set of principles or beliefs, whether it be a religious group, a political group, or any other kind of group, must have an organized and established set of leaders within the group so that it may remain a unified body.  Anarchy is never a way to keep cohesion within any kind of group.  In my opinion, Muhammad should have realized this, if he at all thought or wanted the Islamic tradition to survive and flourish.

Today we talked about Muhammad’s successor and whether or not it was better that Muhammad chose not to name a successor. I feel that Muhammad did not name a successor because if  he had he would have been going against the believe that he was the last prophet. Muhammad did not receive revelation that he should name a certain follower to be his successor therefore God knew that the turmoil  that occurred after Muhammad’s death was inevitable. The Muslim people had to experience, just like every religion, the ups and downs of  what it takes to became a stable society. There is a pattern that history tends to follow. All empires, nations and religions experience periods of failure, discontent and disruption but also periods of stability, glory and joy. Whether or not Muhammad had appointed a successor this pattern was going to occur.

In our reading we learned about Muhammad’s work ethic as a businessperson. Relating it to previous knowledge I’ve learned in another theology class is Muslim ethics and toward money. Its noted that work is a religious duty that must be done correctly. The business ethics I learned from the Muslim community is that it is unfavorable to materialism, open economy, and excess capitalism. Also in the religion of the hierarchy of economic value is that production of natural resource is viewed highly. The necessities of life such as gas, food, and shelter. Whereas, finance and trading is looked down upon because suspicious idea of making money on top of money has a tainted image. My question is how Muslims adjust to the modern day capitalism and religion?

After finishing quiz 3, I thought more about the interpretation that scholars have been debating over Muhammad’s Night Journey. Reading Ramadan’s book, it notes that Muhammad was praying for very long time and then fell “asleep”. From there Angel Gabriel had awaken him and took him on the Night Journey. Whereas, Safi’s reading states that Muhammad was visited by Angel Gabriel. The major debate is the state Muhammad was when he took the Night Journey. Another evidence is when Muhammad greets the former prophet but are described as their forms on Earth, but is a spiritual and cosmic state. Its hard to say whether Muhammad was visited by Angel Gabriel in a physical or spiritual state, but it seems that Muhammad was praying and reached another level of revelation.

One of the most common theological critiques Muslims have of Christianity is the belief in the Trinity.  I came upon this in my reading of Safi in Ch. 4, pg 211.  It immediatly reminded me of a time in class when Professor Mozaffar said it is seen as a form of polytheism.  So to Muslims the Trinity seems like a form of polytheism, and its easy for me to see why that is so.  If someone told me that a monotheist prayed to a father, son and some ghost I’d be confused too.  But that is not the way Christianity intended it to be seen, at least not the Christianity that was tought to me by the benedictine monks at my highschool.  The Trinity is said to be three parts of one god, The father, which is the original God, the creator, the biblical God.  The Son, or Jesus.  This is where more explaination is needed: Christians believe that Jesus was God, in human form. This is the same God as God the father, just in a human form.  And the Holy Spirit is believed to be the spiritual form of God.  These are all the same God just different manifestations of Him.  Jesus is our connection to God, through the Holy spirit, so that we can become one with God, not unlike Muhammad’s own face to face, at the end of our lives.

I found the first two chapters of Mattson’s book “The Story of the Qur’an” almost the same as that of the previous two books.  The author almost summarizes everything from those books authored by Safi and Ramadan.  It is somewhat repetitive in my opinion, but it does reinforce what I originally read from the prior readings.  Mattson’s book, however, provided some information as to how the Qur’an is arranged and its history.  I found Khawla’s story very interesting which was never mentioned in the previous two book readings.  It shed some light as to how women were treated unjustly before the time of Muhammad and especially by their husbands.  I wonder, however, if this practice is still true today for those who do not follow God and the Prophet’s teachings.

The two readings go into much detail about the night journey and the ascension. This was a vital part of the biography of the Prophet, since it was something that could be classified as mythical, something very abnormal. Therefore, this event was a true test for the people. He stated that he traveled to Jerusalem and ascended the heavens during this one night. How would they react? Many of the villagers did not believe and began further ridiculing him. In fact, come believers even left the fold of Islam. Those who were steadfast in the religion continued to believe him as they knew the Prophet as someone who would tell nothing but the truth. Indeed, he was known as The Truth. Additionally, Abu Bakr stated that if one thinks that the night journey is not true, know that the Quran is a much bigger miracle. The interpretation of the night journey in our lives has even created sects among people today.