Islam students at LUC

Archive for August 2011

Week 2

Posted on: August 12, 2011

After completing the final essays, it was interesting to look back at my notes and think about what we were talking about during the second week in relation to the rest of the material that we covered. In class, we discussed the Islamic paradigm, which provided the framework for most of the other topics we discussed throughout the rest of the term. The basic beliefs of Islam, that there is no ilah but Alah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God, unify the Islamic experience of faith. But,  as we saw in each of the films we watched in class, the common paradigm does not guarantee that there will always be cohesion within Islam. In The Taquacores, for instance, tensions between opposing points of view led to violence among Muslims, despite being within the common paradigm.

In the reading during this week, we continued to learn about the life of the Prophet in Safi and Ramadan. I remember that when reading the two texts I found a lot of the information repetitive, but in the end I learned a ton and formed a great basis for the rest of the material. Without understanding Muhammad, his actions and his character, it is really impossible to get a handle on anything that followed him.

I really enjoyed the insight that introtoislam2011 expressed, that “freedom is the ability to enjoin to what is right, and forbid what is bad. In religious traditions, obtaining lesser goods, material goods in an economic system, is a misunderstanding of true freedom, because the ultimate actualization is not the self (as in the American paradigm), but rather, a reconnection to God.” I think that it is very easy to confuse the freedom that comes with civil or economic or social liberties with true individual or spiritual freedom. The message of Islam, and many other religions, is that Freedom comes from God alone, and later in the semester I think that our encounter with Rumi helped to emphasize this idea.

Ever since we watched the Gallop Poll video, I have been more conscious of how often Islam is misused in the media, and how easy it is to fall into misunderstanding and mistrust by the way the media manipulates the term (compared to the precautions taken to maintain moderation when referring to the Christian terrorist in Norway). I am curious whether or not the widespread publication of the Gallop Poll results would be able to affect the prejudice, misunderstanding and ignorance that much of the American public have about Muslims.

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In our first Intro to Islam class we watched a movie titled, “My Name Is Khan.”  One of the central themes in the movie is about how many United States citizens view Muslims and how that view has changed since 911.  It addresses Americans’ preconceived notion of Muslims as terrorists.  The movie’s attempt to disabuse people of that idea is not something I’ve seen from Hollywood in recent years.  For that reason, I think this movie was an appropriate introduction to this class.

In his article, “Mercy: The Stamp of Creation,” Dr. Abd-Allah describes Islam as a “religion of mercy.”  This description of Islam is not one that I’ve heard from any news outlet in the US in the last ten years.  Often I hear the words retribution and oppression, but never mercy.  With mercy as a central of Islam I can understand why the religion appeals to many throughout the world.

I fear that the post by Aeloyola about his/her overhearing anti-Muslim talk is all too common in the US.  Over the last decade I’ve heard seemingly open-minded, liberal friends and family members make disparaging comments about Muslims and the Islamic faith.  For years I’ve hoped that the irrational fear of Muslims would fade as we’ve gotten further away from the events on September 11th.  Unfortunately, I haven’t seen this happen with many people.

Recently, I heard on NPR that France has banned the wearing of the hijab in public.   For the story, NPR interviewed a feminist that supports the ban as a step to more equality and freedom for all women.  However, it seems to me that burqa might grant, rather than deny, many Muslim women freedom, namely the freedom of movement.  I admit I have a limit understanding of Islam, but doesn’t the burqa allow many women the right to travel outside of the home?

In class we watch the movie “Taqwacores.”  I thoroughly enjoyed the movie for both the music (punk fan here) and the characters.  The house seemed to be a microcosm of the Muslim world.  Just to discuss a few, there was the radical feminist in the burqa that crossed out whole sections of the Qur’an, the openly homosexual Muslim, and the ideologically rigid Muslim that often struck at his fellow flat mates.   While they all disagreed on so much, they were most respectful when they visited the Mosque.   The sacred house of worship temporarily brought them all together.

 

In the Footsteps of the Prophet has been an enjoyable read for me.  I’m a sucker for biographies and I find this to be the better of the two that we are reading.  Like any good biography it draws an historical picture of the society that precedes the person and ultimately helps to shape them as adults.  Muhammad was guided by Allah, but he was also clearly influenced by the dominant culture of the day.  It has been a pleasure to learn about that culture.

 

In response to tj26501:  I understand that people may have different opinions than me and I try to respect those opinions.  However, the movie “The Taqwacores” seemed to have a clear point/theme.  A major theme that I picked up on was that the worldwide Muslim community is not singular in thought.  This is important to keep in mind in our society that often views all Muslims as one and the same.

 

The other day I read that a right wing social commentator was preaching that the Muslim in America was attempting to take over the United States by instating Sharia law.  His only source of proof was that fringe Muslim groups in the US were advocating for replacing the US constitution with the Sharia.  In order to do this they were trying to go through the US legal system. (ironic).  This commentator didn’t bother to say that this group was not representative of the greater Muslim community that lives in the Muslim States.  So….screw that guy!

In class we watched the Malcom X movie and finished the Gallupmovie. I really
enjoyed Malcom X. It was not boring at all; it was one of the few movies I
truly enjoyed. On the other note the Gallup
movie was very boring but the statistics were great. I just felt it was very
dry and they should have put more effort into making this film more intriguing for
viewers. Malcom X was more touching and made one rethink things.

 

In our readings assigned from the Rumi book are great. I
really enjoy reading these poems. There is a poem for every type of
relationship. It’s a great way to appreciate relationships and one another. These
poems give you the true meaning of each and every type of relationship. I love
how Sufi’s dog played a huge role in life; many people don’t realize that dogs
are a big part in some people’s lives. I know our dogs to our family means a
lot.

 

In response to annakp91991, I agree how many people in our
society have a misconception about Muslims. This class really helped me
understand their religion and beliefs. It is sad to see how many people don’t seem
to want to be open-minded and try to learn their religion and beliefs. I didn’t
know much about Muslims and this class truly opened my eyes to a lot of Islam
struggles across the world.

 

On the random note I have a client who is from Lebanon. The
other day he was telling me and the lawyer that he wants go back to his native
country because he wants to be there when it is freed. He wants to be there
present to see history in the making. Our client was so excited for this. This was
very important to him. He really loves his country and I was amazed to see how
much passion he had for his country. We don’t see that often.

In class, we watched “Malcolm X”. Malcolm was reacting to the strong racism he had experienced towards African Americans throughout his life. He found what he thought was the truth while in prison, and after his release he spread the words of Muhammad everywhere he could. However, certain actions by Muhammad, and Malcolm’s pilgrimage to Mecca changed Malcolm’s views. I think towards the end of the movie, Malcolm realizes that the Nation of Islam is actually very contradictory to many values of Islam.

The Rumi book covered a lot on love. Love is described as a feeling and a connection between two people, and it is very powerful. There are so many poems that almost anyone can relate to at least one of them. The poems had very deep meanings, and I really enjoyed reading them.

In response to LAKERSFAN415: I also did not know anything about the Nation of Islam before watching “Malcolm X.” I agree that the movement seemed more political than religious. That is why I was relieved in the end of the movie when Malcolm realizes his true faith, and shifts his goals to helping people towards Islam.

I have learned an incredible amount of things throughout this course. I originally took the course because I really didn’t know anything about Islam. I am glad that I have learned more about Muslims, because now whenever I hear people speaking about Islam or Muslims in an uneducated manner, I can correct them (I did this with my grandma the other day!). Thank you for teaching us so much!!

In-Class

I’d seen Malcom X before, but not for a very long time. I’d forgotten about how thorough it is. I didn’t remember most of what happened before he was in prison and experienced his conversion. It’s definitely a long movie, but in order to tell a story as completely as possible, it’s necessary in order to keep from sacrificing important elemements and plot exposition. I agree that what attracted people to the group had very little to do with religion, but the appeal of being part of an empowering social movement.

Readings

Overall, I think that the readings got easier and less dry as the course went on. I’m not sure if it was designed this way in anticipation of people getting burned out as the course went along, and needing different material to hold one’s attention, or if it was because as more knowledge was aquired the easier and more interesting related material became. Either way, it worked to my advantage. I do think that it might have been helpful to have a little bit of instruction regarding the readings in class if this were a regular semester, but at the same time, they were straightforward enough that in a summer session, it wasn’t totally necessary.

Response

To those people who have been saying that they would have preferred fewer movies, I do understand where you’re coming from. However, as someone who works full time and was taking a second class this session, I was perfectly happy with it. They were a nice supplement to the reading. They also were a good way to show all the differences on what being a Muslim can be. For such a diverse population, the films were able to get a healthy cross section to expose us to how varied it can be.

Islam

I would just like to say that I feel like I really did learn a lot in the class. I knew that Islam was much closer to the Judeo-Christian tradtion in some respects, but I had no idea how much they have in common. One of the most surprising aspects is the fact that Muslims hold the Virgin Mary in such high regard. As a Catholic, one of my Protestant brothers-in-law gave me a hard time once for saying that a large part of the reason I could never convert deals with Mary. I got to tell him that I finally found a religion that would support my strong feelings about her and when I told him it was Islam, he nearly fell of his chair. That alone made taking the class worth it!

In-Class

This week in class, we watched a film called Le Grand Voyage. I thought that it highlighted the generational differences that can lead to cultural differences even between members of the same family well, but it also was sort of obvious. I can’t remember exactly when it was that I realized that the father was going to die but it was not that far into the film.  I have not had such sense of foreshadowing since Candy had to kill his dog in of Mice and Men. I’m not sure that the son had much of a spiritual awakening, but I do think he was grateful to have been able to help his father reach his goal of making his pilgrimage.

Readings

Rumi’s Book of Love has been the most surprising reading for me. I normally do not enjoy poetry very much, but this has been easier for me to read and understand. It’s possible that this is because it’s in a broader context, but this makes sense to me. It helps to explain Muslim attitudes about love between humans and God, but also that between humans.

Response

I agree with tj26501 regarding the disparity in the way that Muslims as a whole are treated regarding acts of terrorism compared to other groups. Terrorists come from all kinds of different backgrounds, as proved by the Norway tragedy. In addition, terrorists do not represent the will of a huge majority of the group that they claim to be acting in the name of. It’s unfair and ignorant to assume that all terrorists are Muslims and that all Muslims are terrorists. I don’t know how people are going to change their attitudes unless they actually are inclined to educate themselves on the subject, but I’m also fairly certain that the sort of people that are interested in learning about other faiths and cultures are not inclined to the harmful way of thinking that necessitates it.

Islam

I’m not sure if this is inappropriate to post, but I dated a Muslim guy for a few months. The only time that our religious differences came up was when he told me that he couldn’t drink, which I knew, but he assumed that I did (a lot) because I’m Irish Catholic and that it would be a problemfor me! It was actually nice to date a guy who didn’t, because so many do, and do it way to much. I suppose if it had gotten really serious the issue may have come up again, but we stopped seeing each other when I had him watch Some Like it Hot and he didn’t laugh at any of the jokes. The religion aspect wasn’t a dealbreaker, but not liking Jack Lemmon certainly is.