Islam students at LUC

Archive for January 2015

This week in class we finished up the movie Argo and discussed the differences between the ways the Americans were portrayed versus the Iranians. I would agree that there is a stark contrast between the portrayal of these two groups of peoples, especially contrasting “typical” American life with “typical” Iranian life. Americans, while at times were proven ignorant or just plain oblivious, were clearly cast in a much better and happier life as compared to their Iranian counterparts. A specific scene that stood out to me was when the main character arrived in Iran and a body is shown hanging from a crane and there are swarms of people shouting in the street. It made them seem like savages who were just arbitrarily killing people because they had no control. Throughout the whole movie, scenes from Iran, even in normal places like the market, were darker and altogether gloomier than the complementary scenes in America.

I agree with yungsavage in that I found the topic of the Quar’an altogether very interesting, especially the parts about it being interpreted as a collection of sermons rather than a chronological story, as I have been taught to read the Bible. It is incredible to me hearing that people today still memorize the Quar’an, even if they do not know Arabic. I did not know about the various dialects of Arabic and that the Quar’an is written in the formal dialect from the Beduins of Hijaz. Like yungsavage, I found this surprising as it was the shepherds that had the most formal dialect, whereas when I heard about shepherds growing up, they were always shown as less educated. The dedication of those that learn Arabic to read and memorize the Quar’an, including the specific spaces and various characters, is very inspiring to me and I am glad I had an opportunity to learn about this in class.

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I enjoyed the discussion about how Islam was primarily preserved through the means of oral tradition. As I reflect about where I stand with my own faith today, it just blows my mind that some Muslims have such a strong connection and value of Islam, that they go on to memorize the Qur’an in its entirety for the purposes of preservation and passing it on to future generations. These Muslims do not just memorize the Qur’an for the sake of memorizing it, they extensively study each letter in Arabic, how to correctly pronounce that letter, and all the meanings of what they are reciting. This powerful devotion to Islam was very inspiring to me. It was very interesting to learn that Prophet Muhammad did not receive the Qur’an’s surahs in chronological order. The idea that Prophet Muhammad organized the Qur’an really confused me at a young age. I was originally under the impression that it had already been organized by God, and was sent to the Prophet so Islam could reach the different corners of the world. As I started to look further into Islam, I realized that Prophet Muhammad did nothing without the will of God. Prophet Muhammad was spreading the word of God, and was divinely inspired to organize it because it was essentially the will of God himself.

In response to @enternamehere, I completely agree. It seems as if some people have consciously justified their efforts of making a living in this world, even if means bringing harm to innocent people. And I feel as if Argo was created by those money-hungry Hollywood capitalists. These movie makers were bent on distorting the image of Islam because they knew it would bring in the big bucks. Argo is not just an ordinary movie, it is a movie that won the Oscar for “best picture” in 2013, which is the highest accolade a film can amount to in the west. This means that thousands of people were drawn to theaters, and witnessed these movie makers enable horrendous stereotypes of Muslims and Iranians. The uneducated Americans that saw Argo would essentially see Muslims through the lens that Argo helped create, and that is a picture of all Muslims guided by violence, hatred, and malice. It is also interesting that this movie was not created earlier, and was created in 2013, a time in which Islamophobia was on the rise. By painting all the Americans as heroes, and the Muslim Iranians as villains, I agree that movies like this are making it substantially harder for the world to change. In a time where we should be moving forward and embracing change and equality for people of all colors, types, hearts, and beliefs, it seems as if we took a giant step back by awarding Argo the title for “best picture”.

In this weeks class we talked about the Quran and how it was revealed to the the Prophet Muhammad PBUH. it was really cool to learn how the revelation came to him piece by piece and not in one form. It is something I knew before, but what I thought was interesting was that Moses got the Torah all in one piece. I also never knew how the quran was compiled together. It wasn’t all just given in one way, it took the hard work of the companions of the prophet together to put the quran together after the prophet passed away, and make sure that everything was as accurate as possible. I never knew that it was an inovation, because alot of the times, when people think of Inovations in the muslim world, it is seen as bad, but the compilation of the quran into a written form was an innovation. it really changes my perspectives on innovations seeing that not all innovations are bad or something that Islam does not allow. Its also really fascinating to know that the quran today is not like it was before. the dialect and the lines and marks on the letters were added after the prophets time. this was all to make it easier for the future muslims to read and pronounce the words of in the quran properly.

in response to caffery1712 I definitely agree that as a muslim, I too know many people who are non-arabic speaking that have the Quran memorized than those who are arabic speaking. it would be wonderful to understand arabic and to read the quran. Many people who don’t speak arabic, know how to read arabic, but just don’t understand it. I would always want to know the translation of the surah’s, but my parents would say that English does not do justice to the meaning because it is so in depth. I think it makes sense to have a set language that you have to use when praying or reading because if you just read the translations then it only partially explains the meaning. One other interesting thing is the dialect of the arabic used in the Quran. Many times I would ask my friends who knew how to speak arabic if they understood the quran and they would say that they could partially understand it. I would wonder why, but know I understand that the arabic in the Quran is a very formal and more proper arabic than what people speak today.

One of the most interesting aspects of class this week to me was the lecture on the Holy Qur’an. Although I was aware that the language of the Qur’an is very formal and cannot be imitated, it was intriguing to me that the language was in the dialect of the Bedouins of Arabia, who were pastoral nomads. Furthermore, I was surprised to find out that in addition to Arabic, the Qur’anic language also includes Hebrew and Syriac. This fact helped me realize the universality surrounding the Qur’an language and its history. We also discussed the six stages of editing and compilation of the Qur’an. I was familiar with the first 4 already, but it was interesting to see that the last two stages/individuals originated from India, bringing Islam and the Holy Qur’an into the non-Arabian world. We also ended the Movie Argo and held a discussion about the movie afterwards. I mainly listened to other’s comments in class and found it interesting how some of my classmates pointed to the color scheme in depicting the differences of heroic Americans vs. Violent Iranians and how that affected perception of the two as well. One thing not mentioned in class that I found intriguing also was that the bright color scheme (and flowers) was applied to the Canadian Ambassador’s house, the couple, and Iranian housekeeper. The clothes that the housekeeper and the ambassador’s wore (and the Americans) also were of brighter colors than those of the Iranians in the streets or the guards.

In response to theoblogger295, I find the topic about the miracle of the Qur’an being diminished if read in a different language very thought provoking. I know how to recite the Arabic of the Holy Qur’an but end up using the translation in order to understand the meaning of the Holy Qur’an. Although I agree with your interviewee that the miracle would definitely not be lost if the Qur’an is read in a different language, I do believe that you will miss out on certain personal deep intricacies of meaning and feeling when you don’t know the formal Arabic of the Qur’an, because one word can have so many meanings and doesn’t always have a proper translated counterpart in some languages (especially those that don’t have Arabic roots). Nevertheless, translated parts of the Holy Qur’an still do a very good job and have helped me understand many different things related in the Qur’an that I apply to my life. I also agree with you that the movie Argo truly depicts the true violent and illogical nature of the Guards and Khomeini but I feel as if they spent too much emphasis on their violence and subsequently too much emphasis on the heroism of the Americans. I have said this before, but when taking a critical look at the movie, I found it to emphasize two extremes (depicted truthfully in their own right) to sell the movie rather than accurately portray (historically and bibliographically) a balanced scheme of events and their sources/orgination.

As a Muslim and someone familiar with the Arabic language and the text of the Quran, I was reminded of how difficult the Quran is to read. As an Arabic speaker, I have a clear advantage when reading the text and it is still difficult for me. This puts it in perspective the effort that all huffath put in to not only memorize the Quran but to also remember it. I also find it interesting how professor Mozaffer specified that being a non-arabic speaking Muslim you were more likely to know someone who had memorized the Quran. In my personal experience, I find that to be true as I know more huffath of non-Arab ethnicity and I found that a little surprising at first. I would presume that those who already speak Arabic are more likely to memorize the Quran. However, in my own experience as I memorized parts of the Quran there was emphasis on learning the meaning (tafseer) of what I was memorizing. On the other hand, many of my peers who are Hafith do not understand most of what they have memorized. This makes sense as it easier for someone like me to understand the meaning but I found it interesting that in my life I’ve met a much greater amount of non-arab huffath.

In response to jahnteller, I also find the differences in stereotypes between small villages and the bedouins fascinating. Due to our culture’s current focus on materials and new technology as a measuring stick of how progressive a society is, I can understand why small villages in the US may be labeled as uncivilized or backwards, however in the those teams where materialism was a less emphasized value it makes sense why living a nomadic life could be seen as pure. Also as someone with experience reading the Quran, the written language of the Quran is difficult to understand for the common Arabic speaker, and can be difficult to understand even for native Arabic speakers. This poses an even bigger problem for non-arabic speakers as the words and phrases of the Quran have multiple meanings and in translation some of those meanings are lost. Most Muslims do not learn the Arabic language’s meaning but do learn how to read Arabic in order to read the Quran. Some Muslims do decide to learn the Arabic language in order to be able to fully understand the Quran. The way the Quran is written and organized distinguishes it from the other holy books of the major monotheistic religions.

It was really interesting to learn about the history of the Qur’an. Coming from a non-Muslim background, I never had any education on the Qur’an. I was interested to hear that the Qur’an was given to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. This along with several other examples proved to me just how close in belief Islam and Christianity are. They seem to have many ties, and this does raise the question as to whether both religions share the same god. I also thought that the language of the Qur’an is very interesting in that it is based off a dialect used by nomads. When I think of a very stable, structural document, I would hardly think that the language would be of a people of little stability in terms of location. Yet at the same time, the Bedonins were revered as people very close to nature and its beauty, as opposed to nowadays, where a person without a standing home might be thought of in a negative light.

In response to jwmadrid2014, I had a different reaction to the movie’s color schemes. Tehran was portrayed as being much more gloomy and war-torn. After seeing this, I Googled Tehran and found pictures of a very modern looking city by American standards. Therefore, I came to the conclusion that the makers of the movie were trying to appeal to an audience that did not view Iranians in a positive light. Furthermore, I don’t think we should ever try to justify the taking of hostages and threatening to kill anyone, whether it be by Americans or by another nation. The taking of people against their will is violation of human rights. I am not trying to justify that America harbored a criminal, but I don’t think that we should try to justify the reaction taken by extremists in Tehran. The movie portrayed an American view in that the movie was shot in the eyes of the American hostages, which in that case would be an accurate view.

In class, we discussed the film, Argo, as well as the Quran. I have seen the movie before, but I viewed it only for entertainment purposes and not as a political statement. I wasn’t surprised that Iran was viewed much more deteriorated than America but after looking at it from a much closer viewpoint, I was shocked as to the darker color palette that was used in Iran in contrast to the lighter one that was used in America. It wasn’t the fact that there was a difference that shocked me but, rather, how obvious and distinct it was. I was very intrigued while the Quran was being discussed and I really liked how the Quran should be viewed as a collection of sermons rather than a collection of stories. I also enjoyed learning about the Beduins of Hijaz and how their specific, Arabic dialect shaped the language of the Quran.

In response to theoblogger97, I believe that the drastic difference in the color schemes was intentional as well as the angry portrayal of Iranians in contract the calm portrayal of the Americans. It goes along with the theme many other movies that illustrate Middle Eastern countries as barren and mostly desert. While there is a difference in capita between the two counties that stark differences in the color palette reveal that there have been intentional alterations, whether it be during the film or post-production. Even the clothes that Americans were wearing seemed more bright and lively than they did when the focus was shifted back to Iran. The Iranians were always depicted as either angry, uncooperative, or zombie-like while the Americans were illustrated as sharp and orderly. I believe all of this was intentional in order to get the audience on the side of Ben Affleck and his Argo mission.