Islam students at LUC

Archive for October 2015

In last Wednesday’s class, we discussed the different levels of faith in Islam. In order of increasing faith in God, the 3 levels we discussed in class were Islam, Iman, and Ihsan. The Islam level is the lowest level of faith and involves submission and obedience in entering into peace. Furthermore, Islam is an example of an outside-in believer and therefore encompasses individuals who practice because they have to. Usually the heart and the mind are distant. Next, Iman is a level in which believers feel radiating security and consists of those who are practicing because they can’t not. For example, they pray with the expectation of prayers getting accepted in one way or another. Ihsan is the highest level of faith as it consists of perfection, beautification, and 24/7 immersion in the relationship with God. Believers who have attained this level of faith feel as if they are communicating with the Divine in everything that they do. This reminded me of one of the Jesuit values that is instilled in us as students of a Jesuit university that says one should try to seek God in everything that they do.

In response to @aahmed0494, I also think that the movie Four Lions that we finished watching in class was pretty funny but at the same time, made some serious points. For example. as we briefly discussed in class as well, the movie debunked some common stereotypes about terrorists. For example, in the scene when one of the main boys is at home with his girlfriend and the bearded uncle with the white traditional clothing and topi (white hat) comes over, there is a contrast between the two men. The kid who plays a terrorist in the film is dressed in normal t-shirt and jeans whereas the uncle has a beard and traditional clothing which one may think is representative of what a terrorist may look like. The underlying message is that a conservative is not the same as a zealot.

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In class this week, we discussed f vs spiritual. We talked about the way different religions go about their weekly religious ceremonies. It was interesting to see how different and similar each practices were. We then went onto discuss how if it would be ok if one religion incorporated some of the practices of another religion. Although I do believe that most religiouns share similar beliefs, believing in a higher almighty being, but there are some fundamental differences that can not be overlooked. I don’t think I would gain anything from performing the actions from another religion if I didn’t truly believe in what I was doing. For example, I am Muslim but attended a Cartholic high school. Throughout high school, I had to mandatorily attend mass. It was very interesting to learn about catholic traditions and what goes on during mass. However, even though I went through all the steps, I did not feel spiritually connected to God in any sort of way because I didn’t believe in the actions I was performing.

In response to lucrambler7249, I also really enjoyed learning about the five pillars of Islam. As a Muslim, I have been familiar with the five pillars for all my life. However, I have never learned about them from the perspective that we learned about them in class. I never knew how we embodied each pillar in a different way within our lives. For example, taking a look at the first pillar, shahada, this is how we embody worship in speech. Another interesting thing was how the pillars are broken up in different segments of time. Salah is something you do on the daily, fasting is something you do for a month, zakat is something you pay once a year, and hajj is done once in your lifetime. I never thought of the five pillars in this way before we learned about them in class. I just thought of them as five basic things every Muslim must do.

We had a very interesting discussion in class on Monday about religion, spirituality and how they are connected. I grew up in a household where we regularly practiced our religion, but it slowly dwindled down as I got older. My father started going against the idea of God and I started going to Church on my own, alone. About end of high school, beginning of college, life hit really hard and there seemed to be less and less time for everything. I have not attended mass regularly lately. Yet, although I don’t do the physical motions/practices, I still spiritually feel connected to God. I never understood God growing up because I grew up just practicing. It wasn’t until I matured that I really started appreciating the religion itself.

In response to Nomad1010, I strongly believe that practice should not define whether you believe within a God or not because you can spiritually feel connected to God, BUT I do have to agree with you. Being in the presence of a mosque (or a church on my part), the connection deepens. Being in that enviroment, listening to the Preist, in a sense I feel relieved like the weight is lifted off my shoulders. It can also lead me to have many realizations on different aspects of my life.

Last class we had a discussion about how people would react if parts of prayers from different religions were put into the prayers of other religion’s. As I mentioned in class I feel like it wouldn’t be as big of a deal as some would make it out to be. Yes it would be different for us and feel weird but that’s because of the way we are brought up. For example, i have been to church many times even though I am Hindu with my friends and every time I went I didnt sit there thinking oh they do this and that wrong. Instead I just believed everyone has different beliefs and that we should except them all because in the end God pretty much tells us the same thing. He tells us to be good people, do no harm to others, do good deeds and etc. The only thing that is different is the approach.

In response to @maebualoy I also thought the ending was predictable, yet still hoped somebody would realize what they were doing was wrong. I didnt think everyone would in the end either especially Omar because to me he seemed like the only guy who would actually realize. Regardless though in the end Omar did realize and so did his friend. When they were asked why they were doing this they didnt really have answer and that is when they realized they were wrong even though everyone died at least they realized they were wrong.

This week in class we had a lecture on the Five Pillars of Islam. The five pillars are the shahada (declaration of faith), salah (prayer), fasting during the month of Ramadan, zakat (charity), and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). Being Muslim, I already knew them but I never really thought about them with as much detail as we learned about them in class. For example, we learned that shahada embodies worship in speech, prayer embodies worship in time, fasting embodies worship in diet, charity embodies worship in wealth, and hajj embodies worship in wealth, speech, location, cleaning, and transformation. When I learned about this, I thought about the woman in the Unveiled documentary who was a convert to Islam. She said that her previous religion was only practiced one day a week and wasn’t really a big part of her life, but Islam is a religion that impacts your everyday life.

I agree with aahmed0494 that the film Four Lions did a good job of making a very serious issue easy to understand. When broken down into small parts and adding a comedic element, you can really see the misinterpretation of Islam that “jihadis” have. It was clear that the men in the movie did not really know what they were doing and why they were doing it. This is true of many of the people who become suicide bombers. They are often taken advantage of because of their lack of education and are manipulated into an irrational way of thinking. A lot of times, these people haven’t even read the Quran and have very little knowledge of Islam. Overall though, I thought the movie was just okay. Some parts were funny and other parts made me kind of uncomfortable. I also didn’t like how it was a sad ending because they all died.

This week in class we discussed the Five Pillars of Islam and finished watching Four Lions. The ending of Four Lions was pretty predictable; as I said in my last blog post, I knew it wasn’t going to end well. However, I didn’t expect everyone to end up getting blown up – part of me was hoping that at least one of them, maybe Omar, would have some sort of revelation and put a stop to the madness. But alas, my optimism was crushed; everyone died and the wrong people ended up getting detained. I found it interesting that the conservative Muslims ended up being wrongfully detained; I think this was the movie’s way of pointing out that the public is often suspect of the wrong people simply because they are what people may consider “overly” religious or traditional. That being said, the movie was kind of sad, in a way. On the bright side – it was cool to see Benedict Cumberbatch make an appearance in the film. I definitely wasn’t expecting that.

In response to @blackhawks2014, I think it’s true that praying is something personal and that you can make it whatever you want it to be. I am one of those people that associate with being spiritual but not religious. As I mentioned in class, I don’t like the “rules,” per se, that religious structure imposes upon a person. I’m not saying that religion is bad or wrong;  it’s just not my thing. I’m not comfortable with saying one religion is right and all of the others are wrong. I was raised Catholic, and it always bothered me that, according to what I was taught, all of my non-Christian friends were supposedly going to end up in hell. For that reason – among others – I choose not to associate with just one religion. However, that doesn’t stop me from embracing my spirituality and praying to whoever – or whatever – might be out there.

In last Monday’s class, we talked about the five pillars of Islamic faith, what they meant, what kind of worship they embodied (i.e. worship in action, time, etc.), and of particular interest, the time they took. I never quite saw each act of worship as representing a different duration of time in the life of a human being. The shahada, or declaration of faith, is a simple action, whereas the hajj is an elaborate ritual that requires quite an investment. Each pillar took a variable amount of time to complete, depending upon the difficulty and investment involved, as I saw. I suppose it is proper that they are called “pillars”, as each requires maintenance and purity to maintain one’s faith. The discussion on spirituality was also interesting, as I never really thought of religion being devoid of spirituality. I imagined that anyone doing a religious act would have at least an iota of spirituality, but it is very true that sometimes we do things simply because we are expected to.

In response to , I think it’s pretty cool that you attend other religions’ rituals! It is definitely one of the best ways to really learn about a religion, and doing it many times can really teach one a lot. I always wondered about what to do when you attend a prayer session that is different from your own; I typically just spectate, or copy whatever my friend is doing if I can/am allowed to. I’m still a bit on the fence about praying the way one normally does in a different religious setting. At least according to what I believe, the Abrahamic religions do all recognize the same God (albeit with different names); yet, I do also believe that one pray in the manner they think is most appropriate and respectful. To that end, it’s something I shall continue to think about, but I really appreciate your insight!