Islam students at LUC

Archive for July 2011

Blog #4

Posted on: July 31, 2011

In Class Material

In Class this past week we watched a variety of movies and discussed the beginning of the Quran. As for the “academic” movie, I do agree that it was one of the most boring movies I have ever watched. I can’t even remember what was said in that movie. The other movie we watched about the son and his father going to Mecca for the pilgrimage was interesting but again I found it extremely boring. I agree with one of our classmates in saying that the movie did not really have a message.

Reading Material

As for the reading material, The story of the Quran is an interesting one. The recitation of the Quran seems to be one thing in particular that is very interesting. I like how the Quran was not put into writing until two years after Muhammad’s death. Muslims put a lot of pride into the recitation of the Quran.

Peer Response:

In response to what was talked about in class, I find it interesting that there are so many different dialects of Arabic. For example, a muslim living in France can speak a totally different language than one who was living in Egypt. That shows how diverse the religion is. This made me think about how 1/5 of the world’s population is in fact Muslim. Islam’s bad reputation was started by a Man who was not even muslim but for some reason they are being punished for what he did. This was just the first thing I thought of when we talked about that in class.

Random:

I saw another person’s post about wearing the hijab, and I find it outrageous that they are making women take the hijab off in public. I work victorias at secret, and the other day I had a line full of women who were wearing the full headdress (I hope that is the correct wording) and even though I am not accustomed to seeing women walking around in those I found it very interesting and it was not something I was afraid of. I believe that fear is what drives prejudice.

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Something mentioned in class a few periods ago really got me thinking. The word violence is thrown around quite often in anti-Islamic circles, and Muhammad’s violent conversion tactics are most often pointed out. I found it very interesting when we talked about his switch from passive to active resistance, and this kind of sounded like all the talk going around about Islam’s inherent violence. Those who speculate as to Muhammad’s violent ways would be interested to not the reasoning behind his switch from passive to aggressive resistance, focusing on the keyword in the clause: resistance.

In The Story of the Qur’an, Mattson writes about the different schools of recitation across the Islamic spectrum. The standardization of the Arabic Qur’anic language that spread across the Muslim world, from China to North Africa, was especially interesting, giving all Muslims a sense of solidarity. The solidarity across the Muslim world is also intermingled with regional differences, such as the schools of recitation in Iraq versus Iran.

I found meghankilm’s comment on Islamic dress in the summertime to be particularly intersesting because it si something I have often found myself thinking about. I understand that it is a cultural phenomenon, but I feel like dressing in all black in the summer heat (which is far more abhorrent in places like Saudi Arabia than here in Chicago) would be terrible. While standing next to these women covered in all black, who do not seem to have completely sweated through their garments as I feel  I would, are men dressed in white. Is this the gender injustices everyone seems to be talking about? Or is it just a cultural norm that simply is hard for our Western culture to grasp?

The first day of Ramadan starts tomorrow, August 1st, a time of year when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. I have to admit my knowledge of the holy month is limited to reading a Wikipedia article on the subject, so dependent upon whether or not this is read I feel like it would be an interesting topic to talk about in class. It seems like it is a very solemn month of reflection and atonement, something both followers of Judaism and Christianity can relate to, and would perhaps be a good time for interfaith connections not just in the classroom but around the country.

In Wednesday’s class we watching the “boring academic” movie, which I have already watched in another theology class. But I dont really mind because I actually find the a bit interesting and I don’t think I really paid attention as much the first time around. I like the part that I think we stopped at where they are talking about what the Hijab means to/for Muslim women. I’m not sure exactly why I am so fascinated with the Hijab but I think maybe its because how important “hair” tends to be in society? Not to say I’m a hussy but I honestly cant imagine covering up that much, especially when its 90° out and I’m sweating in a tanktop and skirt.

From the reading one of the lines I found rather notable in Mattson’s book was on pg 231 when she says “The second necessary condition for understanding revelation is the proper intention – to sincerely wish to be guided by God.” That statement is so simple but just makes so much sense to me. I think it explains a lot of why I can’t seem wrap my head around most religious beliefs because I personally feel an actual physical “God” can’t actually exist then according to Mattons logic there is no way I can be guided by religious text. Also why would I wanted to be guided by something I believe to be nonexistent. But the point stands and I have felt to be true that if you have the “proper” intentions then “proper” results will come.

In regards  to dudevondudenstein  post about Muslims having to avoid drugs- while completely ignoring their idiotic interested in who in the class “does drugs”- I find that topic rather interesting because the article that they posted completely ignores the positive uses of drugs. I’m not sure if the reader of the article is expected to just assume that Muslims can use drugs for positive, results such as reducing a severe headache, but never does the author really address that issue. At one point they say drugs should be banned for “recreational and social use” but that still doesn’t really clarify. And being someone who is going into the medial field I believe this author really diminishes their argument by not providing a proper caveat.

First off living in the city can lead a person to have such stereotypes about people and I believe this to be very true because before living in any big cities I really don’t believe I participated in so much stereotyping, maybe mostly because I wasn’t as concerned with my personal safety in a small town. But so to the point I was waiting for the el on my way home from work they other day and when I got down to the platform I say some squirmy gentlemen and instinctively put my phone in my purse and took a few steps away. Then when he ended up getting I my train I looked up after a few minutes and he was wearing the traditional Muslim dress for males and instantly my impression changed to being much more at ease with this once “squirmy gentlemen.”

The Qur’anic verse, “the path of those whom You have bestowed favor, not of those whom have evoked anger or those whom are astray,” really struck a cord for me this past week. Particularly, the explanation of the verse invoking the two potential paths for one’s life was very interesting; the correct path or to be astray. It seems that we live in a world that likes dualities and dichotomies—poor vs. rich, democrat vs. republican, batman vs. joker, cubs vs. sox,—which at times may seem a bit simplistic for such complex issues such as economics, politics, good and evil, and baseball teams that have no hope for the future (I’m a sox fan). But, the duality of living a life in gratitude or in anger really made sense to me.

I recall a conversation with a friend many years ago who said, “If the virtues that we live were paint to use for a self portrait, humility would be the canvass, and gratitude would be the paint brush.” Being gracious is at times the most basic of social norms, where we’re taught from very little to say thank you when we get the things that we want. Yet the duality—dichotomy, really—between being gracious and angry alludes to the idea that they are polar qualities, which makes it much more than that. In thinking about anger, we may typically associate its opposite with happiness, or joy, or being content, but this is being in the state of happiness, or in the state anger. When thinking about anger with gratitude, then they are an activity, a virtue, or lack of virtue.

Mattson, describes how the word kufr, means disbelief, and closely ingratitude, where there is a deep relationship between faith and gratitude towards God (Story, pg.48). She continues, “Disbelief is a willful refusal to acknowledge God’s favors to humanity. It is to be expected that someone who does not even acknowledge his responsibility to show gratitude towards God will reject the idea that he has moral obligations toward humanity,” (Story, pg.48). Thus, not understanding gratitude will hinder our ability to have meaningful relationships with others.

Conversely, being gracious in this sense is accepting all of the hardships and tribulations with a content heart, where we love and honor the difficulties that God gives us, as opportunities to humble ourselves and struggle for God’s mercy—this is where we find peace. Anger is not accepting the obstacles in our lives and blaming God for the seemingly unjust hardships and tribulations; our disposition towards life may become bitter and filled with anxiety and agony. Prof Mozaffar mentioned that in the Islamic tradition it is taught that ultimately, one of these will fill our hearts—in my interpretation, peace or agony.

In response to grasshoper55, I’ll be the first huckleberry to try and answer the question as to what is violence. In true platonic form, I’ll give a simple answer to later be quickly debunked, but I think that in this discussion on anger, maybe violence is an action of aggression directly inspired by anger.

As we keep reading about Islam, the theme of God’s mercy for those who are not angry, but gracious, keeps coming up. The movie Children of Heaven beautifully captured this sentiment. I agree with grasshoper55, that the movie is more that just a family movie with a happy ending. I mean, it is a family movie with a happy ending… but it was also a portrait of living out religious convictions. I fully understood that while the movies we had previously seen in class were about Islam, Children of Heaven was about living Islam. The relationship between the brother and sister contextualized with the family and community dynamic was beautiful to watch, filled with examples of living their moral duty of charity. The cheesiest example was the scene where after the father and son made some serious money in the suburbs, the dad began to boast about buying all sorts of things to show off his newfound wealth, and then the brakes on his bike fail, and they smash into a tree—basic morality play.

Yet, the most powerful shot in the movie, what made the movie for me, was the last shot of the father wrapping the shoes on the bike rack, tucked under household necessities. Here we see divine mercy; a sweet reward for perseverance and fortitude through the struggles of an impoverished life, hidden and unnoticed, tightly wound on the back of a bike. The brilliance of the shot was seeing the shoes, filling the screen, and the dad getting on the bike and gliding away down the corridor. Here, the director shows us the physical manifestation of mercy, and slowly pulls it away from us, holding us there as an audience, so that we are left with the yearning to follow the shoes home. Furthermore, brilliant how we don’t see the kids get their shoes—the director wants us to feel God’s mercy and follow him. It is us as an audience, the cathartic moment, who are supposed to deliver the shoes home.

In class we watched the movie about the Gallop Polls. While, as many others have said, it is not the most exciting movie we’ve watched, but it is very informative. I think that it has done a nice job explaining how Muslims feel about various issues that face people around the world. Also, I have found it interesting to see how the different Muslim countries poll about some of these issues. It definitely gave a clearer depiction of how Muslims view the world and their own faith.

We have begun reading about the Qur’an for class. I have actually enjoyed learning about it because reading about it and what it stands for I think could answer a lot of questions that people have about Islam. Some of the verses are beautifully written and after reading the story of the girl who memorized the Qur’an shows me how the Muslim people are so dedicated to their religion.

I agree with chitownsrt and lakersfan415 and their responses about Reema and her memorization of the Qur’an. This was one of the most interesting things that I have read for the class and it is just so impressive that a person could have the dedication to do something like that. And, like lakersfan415, I have yet to hear of someone memorizing the bible. It is refreshing to hear of someone so passionate about their religion and I think that it is very inspirational.

Following up on our discussions about the terrorist attacks in Norway, I thought it was interesting how the media jumped to the conclusion that the attacker was an Islamic Extremist when it turned out to be a Christian man. It is kind of sad that in our modern world that we still make assumptions and jump to conclusions about things like this.

Post 4

Posted on: July 31, 2011

This week we watched a movie called Le Grand Voyage. The movie was entertaining, something that surprised me considering it was such a quiet soundtrack and overall flow of plot. It showed the contrast between a more traditional outlook on Islam ( the father) and the perspective from a young man with quite a libido. When all was said and done all that mattered was that the father made it to Mecca. After that his life was completed.

The supplementary text to the Qur’an was helpful because of the difficult syntax given in the original holy scripture. Besides avoiding the legal jargon so to speak, it gives a non Muslim insight from the perspective of an author that has been a Muslim his whole life. Without the help from that book it would be frustrating to bring your own interpretation to very complicated subject matter.

In response to botanicaldimensions: Our differing views on life, religion, politics and so on stem from our personal viewpoints of life. This is obvious, and where I agree with your statement and find it difficult to see why others don’t, is that WE are all the SAME. Our time on earth is to short to be killing each other over such things.

Last week we discussed the terrorist bombing in Oslo and it turned out to be quite intellectual and mellow. Any terrorist who brings his agenda to such an extreme is clearly far away from the center of the groups main stream. It is sad that these people, whether christian or muslim, bring down the reputation of all who declare themselves as such.

1.  On Wednesday we discussed the Norway killings and whether or not the killer’s manifesto showed him to be a rational person.  The comment was made that he clearly is rational; the reason being that his manifesto articulately discussed his beliefs and values (btw, I haven’t read it).  However, much of the man’s writings are centered on his Christian faith, and faith is not something that can be rationally explained.   If his entire manifesto is based on something as shaky as his irrational faith, then I can’t say that the man is really rational.

2.  In “The Vision of Islam” reading this week, I learned about the five pillars of Islam.  The 2nd pillar that covers the Salat, the ritual prayer, revealed a much more complex tradition that I had assumed.  I decided to discuss the Salat with a woman friend to get her perspective.  Specifically I wanted to know what she thought about women being discouraged from praying while they were menstruating or just after giving birth.  It seemed to me that calling women impure was a form of sexism that effectively excluded them from normal religious practices.  Half-joking, she said that since Muhammad was so cool with the ladies, then perhaps he intended to spare them the difficulties of prayer at a time when their bodies were so run down.

3.  In response to chitownsrt:  I also thought that the film, “Le Grand Voyage,” was the highlight of the week.  The theme regarding the conflict of generations taught the viewer quite a bit about Islam.  For one, like other religions, Islam must constantly compete with modernity.   The main character has strayed from his father’s religion.  It also teaches us the role of forgiveness in Islam.  The father disapproves of his wayward son and yet he continuously forgives him for his actions.

4.  Ramadan starts this year on Monday, August 1st.  I can’t help but wonder how the holy month affects Muslims that are fighting wars.  I know that it’s stated in the Qur’an that warriors don’t need to observe the fast so that they can keep their strength up.  However, I’ve recently heard on NPR that many rebels in Libya still plan on fasting during the day.  It seems like a bad idea for the rebels.  Their hold on certain areas is hardly tenable when they are in good health.  I fear that they might suffer big losses if they observe the fast.