Islam students at LUC

Archive for November 5th, 2015

While discussing the various sects of Islam this week, what caught my attention most was the different lived experiences of Sunnis and Shiites. Beyond differences in belief, it confused me on why there is sometimes an incredible amount of inter-religion hostility between various sects. But I never considered how for some sects, it may be less because of their different of belief and more their minority position in society. I was raised as a Catholic in a town that was predominantly that demographic, so it never occurred to me what it is like to be a minority in that sense. It also dawned on me how much more effect that would have on those who are also categorized as racial minorities, to be constantly given the image that you are on the outside. Though it does not justify violence committed against one another, it does provide some perspective on the tension between groups.

@amygardnerww I agree that it was about girlhood and empowerment, but I disagree on the support Wajda had throughout the film. Her mother, while sometimes providing support, continually tries to instill rigid societal norms upon her daughter. At one point, she rails against Wajda for attempting to raise money to buy a bike. While she does let her guard down on occasion, I believe that she herself is still rooted in repressive environment she grew up in. Rather, it seems that Wajda’s most consistent, and arguably only support, comes from Abdullah. He willingly helps her get a driver back for her mom, and, after some strong arming, partially teaches Wajda how to ride a bike. Though he is initially like everyone else (by saying that Wajda can’t ride a bike because she’s a girl), he comes around to play a significant role in her empowerment.

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I agree with  that it was really interesting learning about Sharia Law. I saw in some movie once that people are actually afraid of Sharia Law. There is a fear that it will take over the Western World and everyone will be covered from head to toe. It is interesting to see how it works in the movie Wadjda as compared with how it is meant to work. Sharia Law is just “the path that leads to ease” and its goal is to guide Muslims to be closer to God. It is not for non-Muslims and cannot be forced on anyone. It is actually a positive thing because it is based off the Prophet’s Hadith and it is not as scary as it is made out to be. The aims of Sharia Law include preservation of life, religion, wealth, lineage, intellect, and dignity. It is actually a beautiful thing that acts as protection for humanity by preserving these aspects of life.

In class this week we discussed the differences between Sunnis and Shias. This was one of my favorite lectures so far because it is something that is very relevant in my life. I have had Sunni friends tell me they cannot pray behind Shias and that Shias aren’t even really Muslims. It was comforting to know that those things aren’t true and the only real difference on paper is that they have a different opinion on the order of Muhammad’s successors. The violence occurs in the Lived experience. As a minority group, the Shias are very aware of their minority status. It is interesting how so much violence occurs over a tiny difference. Shias give privilege to those who are in Muhammad’s household while Sunnis give privilege to both the Companions and the household. It is also interesting how if Shias value certain quotes from the Hadith more than Sunnis will label those as Shia values, and vice versa.

On Monday, we continued watching the film Wadjda. I really enjoyed the film, especially because it centered a young woman’s voice and narrative. It is refreshing to see a film depicting girlhood and her self empowerment. It was interesting to see the relationships in Wadjda’s life unfold and the motivations each character had for having an impact on her life. Her mother seemed to be her biggest fan and her most dedicated source of support and compassion, Their relationship was endearing. I think a lot of Wadjda’s power and motivation came from the persistence of her mother, traveling hours to work and empowering her daughter with compassion. I was relieved to see Wadjda win the recitation competition, since so many of the movies we have seen so far have been depressing. The competition reminded me of the documentary that was assigned, Koran by Heart, in which another young girl triumphed!

In response to @iwishihadpizza, I thought the example of white male privilege was really effective! So often power is given arbitrarily based on a majority or societal constructions that puts any other group at a disadvantage. This is further fueled by media emphasizing differences that may just barely exist and wrongfully attributing conflict to differences that are not even relevant to the situation. Like Dr. Mozaffar mentioned in class, media uses religion as a scapegoat for political strife. By conflating religion with political violence, media demonizes religions that are, at their core, about peace. It is so common place that even schools teach that religious differences  between Shia and Sunni Muslims are what spark turmoil. I know that is what I was taught in history or social studies classes in elementary school, which is a shame and disconcerting that we are planting Islamaphobic ideas into impressionable children that trust their teachers. Honestly, before I started to seek out genuine knowledge about Islam, the main focus of almost every lesson taught was the 5 pillars and a conflation of sociopolitical conflict with religion, which is deeply upsetting to me.

This week in class, we continued to watch the movie Camp X-Rays. So far, we have seen how the majority of the detainees, the Muslim inmates, act ungratefully and aggressive towards the American guards. They are constantly portrayed as being animal like, barking at the guards, screaming, and even attacking them. The movie centers around Amy, one of the newer guards that was placed in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, and we are able to see the struggles she has trying to adapt to life as a guard here. Like we saw in last classes viewing, Amy felt that she was not being properly treated by one of her superiors so she went on to file a report. This shows that things are starting to get the best of her, but there is one person who seems to make her day slightly better and that person is one of the detainees named Ali At first, they did not get along well, but now they seem to be friends and could actually make each others day more manageable. I am curious to see what happens in the final minutes of the movie because we left off right when he tried to commit suicide.

In response to 

When we discussed the different sects of Islam today in class, Prof Mozaffar made the comparison of how being male and white is the sort of “default” in America, as is the Sunni sect within Islam. Being something other than the default makes one more conscious of their status, which is how Shia Muslims or other sects feel. I thought this was a good comparison to make as it really resonated. We also learned that between Shia and Sunni Islam, there isn’t a sect that is more “true” to the religion than the other, and in reality there is little difference between the two. The difference lies in practices as well as the belief held by Sunni Muslims to follow the word of the companions and the household, while Shia Muslims give privilege to people of his immediate house. I always thought there was a much more distinct difference because Sunni and Shia don’t necessarily get along all too well.

In response to freebird27, I was also glad to learn about Sharia Law. I feel like it has such bad connotations in Western Society as people see it as violent or oppressive to women. However, we learned that Sharia literally means “the path that leads to ease,” which goes hand in hand with what freebird27 mentioned about Islam being a way of life whether a religion to follow, which I thought was a really interesting point. Sharia is more a set of guidelines and ethics, more so than a set of rules. Previously, I had no idea what Sharia really was, and I thought the level of priority placed on things within the behaviors of Sharia was interesting, especially as only 1% was either mandatory or prohibited, respectively.

In class on monday we talked about the different sects of Islam. I am Muslim myself and I am sunni, so thats all I really learned about in my Islamic school. I definitely thought there was a bigger difference between the two. When I did the first assignment I realized that we are not too different. I never even used to hear about shias too much until the revolution in Syria started to progress and there was a clear issue between the two sects. About 2 years into the revolution there was a clear problem between the sunnis and shias that I knew regardless of whether or not they supported the Syrian president. We also finished the movie in class on Monday. My aunt lives in Saudi Arabia and in my opinion this movie does not depict the normal life of a women in Saudi Arabia.

In response to landocalrissiano, although I am Muslim I too was surprised by how similar the two sects were. I grew up learning that they were so different and they didn’t look at each other in a good way like I said in my blog especially after the Sryian revolution started. I was also surprised by Sharia law as well. When I was younger in my Islamic school, my teachers made everything black and white, when in reality there is a grey area. A lot of times things are okay as long as they are done in moderation, which I think is very important in Sharia law. My teachers used to teach us that some things are right and others are completely wrong, they never told us that some things are recommended or disliked so therefore it is your decision whether or not you make the decision to do it. They would tell us that it is “haram” (forbidden) and if we do it we are most likely going to hell, which I think is dramatic. In reality though there is a lot of grey area.