Islam students at LUC

Archive for November 1st, 2015

In class this week we discussed Islamic Spirituality. Using the analogy of a gold box surrounded by glass provided a good representation of the goals of the Islamic faith. The idea of spirituality removing the barriers that are separating a Muslim from a strong relationship with God is an idea that seems to be prevalent in many major world religions. The joy found in the physical world is represented as a cruel imitation of the joy of correctly following God. I was struck by the clear standards that are present in the strength of a Muslim’s faith in God. Although the three levels of faith are only characteristics that can be personally assigned, this leads me to question if someone who is Iman or Ihsan would self-identify as of that caliber of faith. The fact that Muhammad is ranks even higher than Ihsan demonstrates the concept that Muhammad is a perfect follower of God.

In response to @cooper120, I do also highly doubt that we will have the opportunity to see Kristen Stewart smile in Camp X-Ray. The idea of containment camps of this kind existing in the United States (or under its control) makes me cringe. The lengths that the United States goes to in an attempt to snuff out prospective danger in the Middle East are exceedingly worrisome. In the name of freedom, we are subjecting others to great social injustice. It is unclear in this point of the film whether the director is in support of actions in Guantanamo Bay or is against it. Though Payman Maadi’s character is seemingly sympathetic, it is too early on in the film to determine if he will be proven innocent or guilty of assisting terrorists. I am personally against the actions that occur in Guantanamo because I feel the United States is violating the basic rights of those they have captured.

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This week in class we learned about Islamic spirituality and did some really cool exercises. The exercise where we wrote about five things we really desire and made lists of things that make us feel secure and things that make us vulnerable really resonated with me. I could see somewhat of a trend in all of the lists. It made me realize what kind of person I am and what I need to work on. I also found learning about the different levels of spirituality fascinating: Islam, Iman, and Ihsan. As Professor Mozaffar was explaining each to us, I was trying to gauge what level I am at. I found myself falling in different levels when thinking of different circumstances. It’s not easy to be at the Ihsan level and connect with God in every single thing, but as each day goes by I hope I get closer and closer to that level and closer to God.

In response to , I also found the discussion about the prayer of the tongue and the prayer of the heart very interesting. It really amazing to think that sometimes we thing God hasn’t answered our verbal supplication, but in reality He may have answered something greater, the prayer of our heart: what we actually need. It is easy to be disheartened, but this reminded me of the teaching of my faith that says that God never leaves a prayer unanswered. This also reminds me of how Professor Mozaffar taught us that when we supplicate for anything, no matter how big or small ( a major life decision or an A on a paper), we should do it with the same intense yearning we feel when we want something we really desire. This isn’t the first time i’ve heard him teach this, but this time I would really like to implement it.

Last class we discussed the existence of the three levels of faith in Islam. The three different levels Islam, Iman, and Ihsan are interesting because there is no equivalent in Christian religion. In Christianity, one is either a believer and practitioner or Christianity or not. These three levels and what they mean are a demonstration of the structure that exists within Islam. Putting a name to specifically where one is in regards to his or her faith shows a certain seriousness and dedication. To me Islamic tradition and religion seem to be a mechanism for creating good people. Each level and the traits one learns on them is another step towards being closer to God.

In response to @reginaphalange104 I also found the exercises very difficult and interesting. Each task sounded simple when we were told what to do, but I never really noticed how difficult it is to focus on just one single sensation. There is always so much white noise that is usually involved.

I really enjoyed watching Four Lions (and I feel a little ashamed that I enjoyed it so much, with all the black humor throughout!). While I thought it was very entertaining and really funny, I also liked it because of the messages it shares, especially the way in which it spreads its messages. What I got out of the movie most was how easily misdirected zeal can escalate to dangerous action. It was also interesting to watch the characters struggle to justify their actions, even in the middle of confusion and doubt. The interactions between Omar and Waj really highlight this confusion and how zeal forces them to power through their doubt. I thought of Omar as representative of unbridled zealotry while Waj represented doubt. So often we condemn doubt, but I think doubt and challenging your own beliefs on a regular basis is healthy and can help you to grow in your beliefs and strengthen them as well.

In response to @bagels4evr I am not religious or spiritual anymore either so I did not have much to say during that discussion in class. In high school, I was very invested in my Catholic faith (with which I no longer identify), but drawing from that experience and where I stand now, I have always felt that religion is very personal. I treat each person’s spiritual practices as unique to them and inspired or directed by their religion. I think that if other practices from other faiths strengthen your own individual spirituality, you should go for it! However, when using the rituals of other religions, we always have to be thoughtful about what those actions mean and be respectful. For example, in Catholicism, taking part in the Eucharist when one does not believe that the bread and wine have transubstantiated into body and blood can be offensive to some Catholics. If a non-believer takes part in a religious practice without understanding the significance to those from that religion, it can be disrespectful. Like anything else, we have to do things with intention, compassion, and understanding.

First of all, the exercises we did in class were really interesting and eye-opening to me. It was a great way to get us to stop and really think about a lot of different things. I think looking at the three levels of Islam faith were also interesting. I am Catholic and we do not have different levels similar to this, so it was something very different to me. The first level is the Islam level which is the most basic level, where the majority of Muslims are at. The second level is the Iman. Here, God is thought about constantly. The third level is the Ihsan level where there is a 24/7 relation with God and there is a connection and communication with God. The first level is religious, the second level is spiritual and the third level is both. The ultimate goal is to have a connection with God and that can look differently depending on each person, but these are the levels of Islam as we understand them.

The movies are really interesting in this class! We finished Four Lions and it had such a sad ending! All of the main characters ended up dying, but not how they planned, (even though that was a good thing for most people). The movie had a comedic spin on real issues which made it interesting to watch. The new movie we are watching, Camp X-Ray, seems to be very different. Four Lions was a comedy and this one seems very serious which is a good contrast to show different perspectives and attitudes about some related things. The movie starts off showing the Twin Towers collapsing and then leave off 8 years later with some of the same ‘detainees’ that were taken after 9/11. Instead of wanting to kill these people or hurt them, the goal is to keep them alive. It’s so far an interesting movie and I can’t wait to see the end. I also can’t wait to see if Kristen Stewart smiles. Doubt it.

In class this past week, we did exercises with each of our five senses. I really enjoyed these exercises as it allowed me to get in touch and connect with those parts of my body for even just a short while. Even though each exercise was only 15 seconds, I found it rather difficult to even focus for that long. It made me realize how many places my mind is at one given time. When I was forced to focus on one thing for a while, I found my mind slowly drift to other things without me even realizing. The second time we did each exercise, I found myself able to focus a little better, but it was still challenging. I think that those are good focusing exercises and over time with practice I feel they would allow you to be better connected with your body, and help re-focus you when you are feeling stressed or your mind feels scattered and in a million different places.

In response to @freshlikezamzam, I agree, and had also never heard of the three levels of Islam. I enjoyed learning about these, and throughout that part of the lecture, I was trying to connect it to my Christian faith and my personal experiences of each of the levels. Most of the time, I experience my faith on the level of Islam, going throughout my day not thinking about or making connections to God. There are times, however where I have experienced faith on the level of Iman, where I think of God as putting specific events in my life for a reason and thinking of God first after I see or experience something. It could be something as simple as a sunrise, where I think of God first, and thank God for blessing me with it. It could also be something such as a major event in my life, either happy or sad, that I think of God and think that whatever event that just happened is a message or sign from God, helping me determine my next step in life. I was able to make many connections to my personal life and faith during this portion of the lecture, which I enjoyed very much.

This week in class, we discussed the three levels of faith: Iman, Ihsan, and Islam. I had never heard of Ihsan, and this was surprising, as I grew up in a Muslim household. These various levels of faith are fundamentally a pathway in which one goes from simply following the religion to actually immersing themselves into it. The primary level, Islam, is simply submission. The second level, Iman, was seeing God in all things, demonstrating a relationship and awareness for God that was not necessarily present in the Islam level. Finally, Ihsan, is the last level of faith. This level not only establishes a stronger relationship with God than what was seen in Iman, but allows for such an intense devotion to God. This means to become an individual for God and to relate everything that happens to God.

In response to mba2k16, I agree, it was interesting to be able to test our attention span with the exercises done in class. I am not used to focusing on one sense at a time. It was a lot harder than I thought. It was especially hard listening for sounds and not connecting them to where they may be coming from. Also, I was surprised to find out that our senses have gone done because of the age of technology, this is very sad.