Islam students at LUC

Archive for September 2011

The movie Mooz-lum is very entertaining, and it does shed light on some religious plights and troubles that some Muslims face while growing up in America, however I feel that some of the message is taken away because the father is an extremist who is an adherent of the Nation of Islam, a small faction that is not accurately representative of Islam as a whole.

In Ramadan’s book, I found something particularly interesting that connects with a discussion we had in class earlier in the semester. Muhammad’s new revelations forbade infanticide, something that was commonplace among Quraysh, something that totally upsetted the balance of society. He not only gave this command, but he made it a point to openly show his respect for women, including the favoring of his daughter Fatima and the loving manner in which he acted towards her.

Recently appearing in the news was an article about Anwar al Aulaki, an Al Qaeda leader who was born in the U.S. There was much controversy about whether or not the president can order the death of a U.S. citizen under the umbrella of “counter-terrorism” and the ethics associated with the matter. Because then shouldn’t the question be brought up about whether or not we should kill other people who threaten the lives of Americans and not just Muslims who threaten the lives of Americans?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/aulaqi-killing-reignites-debate-on-limits-of-executive-power/2011/09/30/gIQAx1bUAL_story.html

 

In response to Mufasa19, it wasn’t actually Muslims in the time of the Prophet who wrote the hadiths, because then the sanad (chain of narrators) wouldn’t be so lengthy in some accounts. It was actually not until the time of Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim that the hadiths were only verbally recited. These two Imams dedicated their lives to going out and finding these people who are said to know the hadiths and hear them recite it, and it is also said that the amount of time spent verifying the authenticity of these narrators was so painstakingly difficult that the Imam watched a man in secret for 6 months, and when he saw him pretend to have food in his hand to make his donkey walk to him, he rejected the man’s narration and didn’t take down his hadith because the man lied to an animal.

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I have to admit that I never thought I would find a movie that could trump the “killer soccer ball” scene from My Name is Khan but Mooz-lum managed to accomplish just that in the scene where little Amid (all Romeo and Juliet-like) escapes from lunch in order to ask a girl – whose name he doesn’t even know – to be his illegal girlfriend. I don’t mean to say that the themes addressed by the film are not important. On the contrary, modern-day, American Muslims’ experiences with their Muslim heritage, identity, and experiences of religious persecution in schools and communities is a topic that should be more prevalent in public debates. However, the way the film was directed is so low-budget, so corny, and so poorly acted that I really feel the cinematography detracts from its powerful, underlying religious message.

Likewise, this week’s reading by Mattson has been really interesting in the exploration of the stylistic elements of the Qur’an. I found it really effective to use third person voice to establish God’s majesty and dominance but then switch to second person singular to address God, making the reader’s relationship with this magnificent being suddenly intimate and personal. I also liked the use of “names” or “attributes” to describe God since corporeal images and descriptions are prohibited in Islam. Finally, I was pleasantly surprised when reading the section on the science of hadith, as I myself was wondering how authentic the accounts of the Prophet were or whether they were all just hearsay.  I’m glad that the Muslims following Muhammad’s time placed such strict rules on separating “authentic” reports from weaker ones, considering how the tales of Mark and Luke and John in the New Testament have very little in common with each other and by comparison seem much more unreliable.

In my history class on Monday our class discussed the subject of “ethnogenesis”, the creation of an ethnic identity as distinct from the rest of society. In this lecture, my professor said there are three key steps to achieving an ethnic identity: a battle, a track, and a migration. The examples we covered in class were the Israelites, the pilgrims, and the Boers of South Africa. All three had to escape from an oppressive regime (be it Egypt or England) and the process of migration helped found a new identity as distinct from the society they escaped from. I now see that the Muslims from Mecca would be another good example of a group of people who underwent ethnogenesis. By suffering oppression, violence, and even death at the hands of the Quraysh in Mecca, the Muslim community had to endure a long track of escape, first to Abyssinia and later from Abyssinia and Mecca to Yathrib in search of sanctuary. During the process of migration from Mecca to Medina, these people experienced the creation of a public Muslim identity and in Medina were able to cultivate this new identity into the world-wide Muslim identity we see today.

In response to sugarmagnolia313, I’ve also heard statements like “not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.” This is an extremely prejudiced and narrow-minded view. Terrorism by definition is the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims. The strategy of terrorist attacks has been used to intimidate people from cooperating with a state so as to undermine that state’s authority in a struggle for independence by countries like the U.S. (in the War for Independence), Ireland, Kenya, Algeria, and Cyprus. In this case, terrorism is the only means of resistance that is left to the weaker actor in a conflict, who lacks the military, technological, and political means of combating the oppressor. By this definition, our Founding Fathers were terrorists, and they surely were not Muslim, or even Christian for that matter. Terrorism is all a matter of perspective. After all, terrorists don’t refer to themselves as terrorists but freedom-fighters. And surely George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were just that.

It was very interesting to lean about how all religions are linked together such as Judaism is a offshoot of Christianity, Islam is a offshoot of offshoot of Christianity and Judaism, Sikhism is a fulfillment of Islam and Hinduism and etc. One other thing that was engaging for me was the Prophet’s ways of preaching and the responses by Quraish.

In the footsteps of the Prophet by Tariq Ramadan, explains the  Prophet’s night journey. I knew about this before but Tariq Ramadan talks about every other detail like the white animal between a mule and a donkey and after returning back Muhammed proceeds to the home of Um Hami. The story of night journey and the Miraj is very inspiring for me.

Muhammed often used to stand in Kaba in prayer for long hours, one night he fell asleep and Angel Gabriel came to him, woke him up and took him towards Jerusalem on a white animal. There Muhammed met a group of Prophets who had preceded him and led a group prayer. He passed through all the stages of hell and heaven and met God where the Prophet received the injunction of the five daily prayers, and then was taken back to Jerusalem.

In response to littleduck2 like you mentioned Islamphobia, I even never knew what that is until know, its very sad that in this day and age people don’t have the freedom to practice their religion in different parts of world. The banning of covering your face in Netherlands was sad to hear and is definitely injustice for all the Muslims living there.

This week in class we discussed how Islam perceives itself among the myriad of other religions. In the Islamic tradition, it is the original, monotheistic religion that was revealed throughout the history of mankind to many prophets such as Jesus, Moses, and Abraham. There are approximately 120,000 prophets of Islam. Prophets, as we learned in class, are humans appointed by God to call their people to God while messengers are a subset of prophets that receive scripture. According to the Islamic tradition, only the Qur’an (translated as the greatest recitation or reading) is eternal, meaning that it abrogates all other scriptures and preserved, meaning that it has not been changed over time.

 

In Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet we follow Muhammad who in spite of his preoccupation with attacks and treachery remains composed and endows those around him with sincerity and kindness. As we learned in class, female infanticide was a common practice among the Quraysh. Muhammad respected women and favored his daughter Fatima whom he showed his fatherly affection whenever possible- behavior that often sparked surprise in others. Muhammad also reminded his followers to express their love for one another: “When someone loves their brother (or sister) let them tell them that they love them”.

 

For an issue related to Islam, I found a study carried out between July and December of 2010 at the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research that analyzed the representation of Islam in European textbooks. The study examined textbooks fromGermany,Austria,France,Spain, andEnglandand concluded that Islam was presented in a “simplified and distorted” way. The textbooks emphasized the differences between Islam and other religions, instead of pointing out the similarities. Islam was also presented “as pre-modern and thus as ‘others’ incompatible withEurope”. Also Islam’s diversity across the globe was not portrayed; it was rather reduced to “a homogeneous entity”.

 

In response to elephantsliveupstairs28: In the Western society, a religious head-covering is often seen as a sign of oppression, especially when worn by females. The United States Constitution allows one to have the freedom of choice in this matter.  Some countries imposed a governmental ban on displaying head coverings (used for religious purposes) in schools (as inFranceorTurkey). In my opinion, it is as unjust as making a head covering obligatory in public (as inSaudi Arabia). Hypothetically, in a country such as theUnited States, it is purely a personal decision.

 

Speaking in general terms, a head-covering worn by Muslim women is an expression of modesty and affiliation with the religion of Islam. It is a universal recognition sign of a sort- one can easily spot a Muslim woman. Therefore, one can see the unity as well as the diversity of Muslim women – a variety of nationalities and races, for instance. In my opinion, wearing a head-covering in an environment unpopular with this idea means bravery and resistance- it means staying true to one’s beliefs in spite of the main trend in the society. A head-covering must be worn when attending a mosque- it is a sign of respect and equality in the eyes of God. In my opinion, wearing a head-covering in public places means being aware of the ubiquitous presence of God. Nevertheless, a head-covering has a unique meaning to each individual woman wearing it.

 

I too, have a religious head-covering (a hijab to be more specific) in my possession. It is quite challenging to describe what it means to me. It is a royal-red, chiffon hijab. It has floral embroidery with tiny, silver beads and sequins. I wear it at home whenever I pray.  Raised by Catholic parents and later challenging my original religion imposed on me, it symbolizes my quest for discovering myself, the evolution of my thought from high school to college, the malleability of my beliefs. I wear it when praying to God and it serves as a symbol of humility. Its meaning to me is constantly evolving. As the days ensue,  I am sure it will become even more complex.

In class on the third week we discussed the common prophets between islam, christianity and judaism. Essentially in Islam there were around one hundred and twenty thousand prophets of Islam, beginning with the prophet Adam, and ending with the last messenger in Prophet Muhammed. Jesus and Moses along with Abraham were all prophets of Islam. We also discussed about how authentic one religion views another. Since Islam is the final message, it views itself as the completion of the concept of religion. Judaism and Christianity have differing views on how they view each other, but both view islam as false.

I came across a post that asked whether or not the episode mentioned in the reading, where Muhammed throws pebbles at the opposition and Allah claims that it was not Muhammed but He who threw them, is to be taken as allegorical or literal. There is a differing opinion on this matter but even if taken in the literal sense, the understanding is that Muhammed did indeed throw the pebbles, but the affect of those pebbles on the Quraysh was something that could only be done by Divinity.

In the Memoirs of Muhammed, it was discussed that Islam declares the crucifixion of Jesus a lie. The Quran makes it clear that Jesus did not die, and there are traditions and verses to some extent that state that the second coming of Jesus has yet to occur. It will be on of the major signs of the Day of Judgement and his descent will take place in Damascus, Syria. Jesus has a very important role in the Islamic paradigm, and it revolves around being the one who defeats the anti christ.

Being a Muslim nowadays and living in the Western world has certainly become a test. Its not like it was ten years ago, for obvious reasons but in order for a person as a muslim to actually follow the beliefs about the wide variety of matters such as interest or alcohol in a society dominated by both, takes much more strength then it did years ago. Living as a Muslim youth is even worse than that, constantly being bombarded with things on an every day basis whether through the media or real life interactions has made many people abandon the religion completely. Its a harsh reality.

I actually really enjoy our class discussions. I find Muhammad’s life to be very interesting to learn about, especially because we are examining his participation in violence. I was disappointed that we could not hear the end of the story between the newlyweds; I strongly dislike cliff hangers like that. I found the concept of the Muslims fighting in the first war seeing two thousand soldiers to be really powerful because it really does test one’s faith and reasoning for being present in the fight.

I thought it was interesting that the Mattson reading presents a different approach to the female infanticide. Fathers were more concerned with their daughters growing up and not being able to defend and protect them, and this is why they actually allowed the female infanticide continue. This reasoning puts a thoughtful twist that I had not considered prior to the reading. I merely assumed that it was more desired and valued to have sons, just as many cultures place an emphasis on the males to carry on the family legacy.

Thinking back to when I went to watch Fordson, a flashback came to mind of a woman saying something to the extent of “not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.” I’ve actually had an argument with someone over this before and think that it is absolutely ridiculous that people actually believe that. It’s not just poorly educated people, but people who have attended college and hold influential positions in society. It just baffles me to hear such utter nonsense be spoken by well-educated individuals.

In response to 2coolmeener, I agree that people tend to have a very narrow view of most other religions. However, when was the last time you remember learning about Muslim communities living in China, Mexico, or the Caribbean? I’m not saying that it is right to assume all Muslims are Arab; I’m just trying the find the source of the ignorance of the topic. I don’t think that Islam is sufficiently taught or even discussed enough in high school, so college students tend to think that they are knowledgeable on the matter after taking a single course because it is more knowledge than they ever had before. I think that people just get excited about having taken a course, and want to assert that they are learning about the currently oppressed, so they say that they know a lot about Islam when it is really a learning experience that lasts a lifetime.

We finished the other half part of “My Name Is Khan” in class. Rizwan gets married to Mandira even though shes not a Muslim and soon after the attacks of 9/11 happen. The movie shows how rizwan and his family had to deal with all the problems only because he had a Muslim name. The movie ends with a message that Terrorism does not have any religion. We ended the class talking about the difference in Allah and ilah.

It was very interesting to read the biography of Muhammed from The Footsteps of the Prophet by Ramadan. I had no clue the House of God (al-Kaba) was biuld by Abraham and His son Ishmael. After Muhammed recieved the relevations, Khadija played a major part in Muhammed’s life. Khadija was the first one to convert into a Muslim and stand by Him and comfort Him.

Zayd was Muhammed’s adopted son, He was captured in a battle and then been sold several times before becoming Khadija’s slave and then Muhammed’s. Later the news came that Zayd’s parents are alive so Zayd’s father and uncle went to Muhammed to bring him back to his tribe. Muhammed suggested to ask Zayd what he wants, Zayd decided to stay with his master and would prefer slavary with Muhammed to freedom away from Him. Muhammed then anounced that Zayd was now His son and he would now be called Zayd ibn Muhammed.

In response to islaminthehouse I agree with you, I also liked the discussions in the class and the question about baby hitler, it was kind of tricky because you would want to kill him knowing, what he will become later in future and at the same time you  would’nt want to kill a inocent baby. The other thing you talked about terrorism, I agree with that too, terrorism has no religion!