Islam students at LUC

Archive for November 9th, 2015

I took theo 100 this past summer and it was pretty eye opening to me to consider others opinions that possibly all religion is wrong or that religion does not come from the divine. I have always fully believed in Islam and this was something that Muslims feel somewhat uncomfortable thinking about because we are supposed to believe in God without question. I felt that doubt was seen as weak faith. I would have no regrets fully believing in Islam though because either way, it teaches me to live a life of being kind and forgiving. I found it interesting in class that we discussed the idea of religion being the ultimate form of art. I have never really looked into the idea or any evidence of religion coming from anything but the divine. We also discussed if all religions preach essentially the same thing or if they all have the same end goal. I agreed that heaven is a loose definition and that heaven in Islam and Christianity is two very different things.

In response to @sunkissed23 I always thought of the difference between Sunni and Shia like Protestant and Catholic as well. And I thought, why do they have these problems and fighting but these other sects in different religions do not? One thing that we tend to overlook is that Christianity is much older than Islam. Catholics and Protestants did have a lot of problems and fighting in the past. There have been recent problems as well, as we saw in Ireland. Also, the struggle between Orthodox and Catholic. I personally believe the problem between Sunni and Shia is political but perhaps once the religion becomes even more established and older we will see some of these problems simmer down. I also thought that the main difference was about who would be the leader of the Ummah after the death of the prophet so it was surprising to learn that is not the case.

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In class today, we introduced the topic of spirituality in Islam by first having a discussion whether all religions, like movies, literature, etc. are all “basically the same thing.” I found this quite interesting, because as somebody who is not necessarily religious, but yet wondering where I would fit, have thought about this before – but more so in the aspect of what religion was to me. Some students raised the arguments that it depends on how one is looking at religion, because they saw at the core of all of these faiths, the goal was to be a good, moral person to the best of their ability. The debate then arose on the question of what the motifs of these actions were – was it justified to do good deeds just in the process to fulfill requirements for a better afterlife, whether that may be heaven, paradise, or reincarnation? Does it matter? Or should a person do good as just a good person, no matter their faith, and its following beliefs, or lack of religion? Similar to some student’s beliefs, (and it may be because due to my lack of religious path), but I’ve personally frequently think about this question and have come to lean more towards that I think it shows more of a person’s being and humanity when he or she does an act of good out of the goodness of one’s heart, rather than to fulfill a requirement. But yet many religions guide their followers to be the best they could be regardless of their faith, so it becomes all very confusing to me. I hope to think more about this.

And in response to sunkissed23, I can very much understand the confusion and disturbance that you felt when considering the fact that there could always be the possibility that all or some religions were created by human beings at a point in history, and not by a superhuman divine being. As some may have already seen in my previous posts, I’ve stated many times that I’m not necessarily the most religious person who is on the path to find what fits me – whether that may be a religion or various pieces of many. But because I do not necessarily follow a specific religion and all of its ideals/requirements, I’ve found myself viewing religion more so from an academic, anthropologic, and even sometimes, an artistic scope. I spent a semester at the Rome Center, and it is very easy to assume that I was put in the heart of Catholicism. I’ve attended the Papal Audience, and I’ve attended (what I didn’t know at the beginning) a pilgrimage to Assisi. Because I do not completely devout myself to Catholicism, I found myself in these situations observing and taking in my surroundings, whether that may be the themes of the stories, the behavior of people around me, or the art within the churches. As I reflect on these memories, it’s very difficult to imagine that one individual, or a group of people, was/were able to create something so large, so lasting, and so engrained into history and even society today. But then also I sometimes struggle with the idea that a supreme being created everything and then presented His/Her word to an individual/group to then share these rules with the rest of the world. This was a bit of a ramble, and I’m obviously still very lost, trying to find my position within the mess.

Today in class we started the movie Malcolm X and I’m extremely excited that we did! I’ve heard so much about how great of a civil right leader he was and how he was a practicing member of Islam so I’m interested in watching how his character progresses from a hustler to one of the most influential members of the civil rights movement. Aside from beginning the movie, we also discussed whether the source of religion is superhuman or if it is through humans. When religion comes from superhumans, we believe religion to be a revelation in that case. But, if it comes from humans, it is known to be an ultimate art form and an expression or commentary experience for the artist. I actually found this point to be a little disturbing because I’ve never thought of religion as something that didn’t come straight from the divine. It was a little hard for me to hear the perspective that religion may just be an art form created by another human being.

In response to @nomad1010 , I actually thought that the difference between Sunnis and Shias was far more than it actually was just because of all the fighting that goes on between them. Even my friends made the differences seem much more exaggerated than what we learned about in class. I’m not really sure why Sunnis and Shias are so against one another because at the end of the day they are all still practicing Islam. I compare this to Christians and Protestants because they are too at the end of the day practicing Christianity but they don’t have any angst against one another so it’s confusing to me. I too assume that the problems must stem from political reasons more than anything else, which they do because the main difference between the two is believing who should have been the ruler after Muhammad’s passing.

Religion and spirituality before we explain the connection between religion and spirituality, it is important to understand what these two terms mean. Religion can be defined as “belief in God or gods to be worshipped, usually expressed in conduct and ritual” or “any specific system of belief, worship, etc., often involving a code of ethics.” Spirituality can be defined as “the quality or fact of being spiritual, non-physical” or “predominantly spiritual character as shown in thought, life, etc.; spiritual tendency or tone.” To put it briefly, religion is a set of beliefs and rituals that claim to get a person in a right relationship with God, and spirituality is a focus on spiritual things and the spiritual world instead of physical/earthly things. Religion is spiritual and spirituality can also be considered religious. Religion shows you fear and spirituality shows you how to be brave, religion tells you the truth and spirituality lets you discover it and sets you free.

In response to janedoozy, it’s true that things that we are taught at home and  we learn it  because it is a part of our culture. We don’t really appreciate until we gave it a little thought and that’s when we actually start believing in it. I believe in oneness of God because I was taught that home. It is when I matured and understood the words more deeply and felt a spiritual connection to God.

This week I was not in class because I wasn’t feeling well so I finished watching Wadjda. It’s definitely one of my favorite movie so far in class. The way she was struggling to convince her mother to get give her the money and in general makes me feel bad for her. I cannot even imagine living a life like that. Later, when she tried everything to collect money and failed. She decided to join the religious club to take part in the religious competition. Where she had to memorize the Quranic verses as well as be able to answer general knowledge questions about Quran. I was really influenced of how she started didn’t even know how to pronounce certain words, but she worked for it. She was not only able to recite the Quran but even won the competition. As a result, when she was asked what she was going to do with the money. She said she will buy herself a bike and the principal got upset and decided to donate the prize money because it is a shame for a girl to ride a bicycle in Saudi Arabia. It was very heart breakening because she is still young and doesn’t understand that in Saudi Arabia women aren’t suppose to do such stuff. In the end when the boy says that she can take his bicycle and that he wants to marry her was really cute and the best scene in the movie.

In response to abc1232015, I loved how you phrased the concept of fear and hope. It’s true fear stops you from the wrong doings and hope keeps you going. I read it somewhere that “If you think about it, hope is fear’s antithesis. In a way, hope is the reality we wish to see in the future, and fear is its shadow”. If we think about about it, it makes so much sense. Sometimes, we end doing wrong even then stay calm because there is always a hope. Hope cannot be without fear, and fear cannot be without hope.

This week in class we learned more about the core concepts of Islam and going back to basics of understanding these cores. These concepts included retreat, repentance, striving, shielding, renunciation, scrupulousness, opposing the self, vicious envy, backbiting, and a few other. Reflecting on these concepts and how they pertain to my own life made me realize about things that I overlook now because I deem them acceptable when they are in fact not.

In Response to Hamptonmilford, I also agree that watching Camp X-ray was difficult. Through my minimal knowledge of what goes on in Guantanamo Bay, I know that they treat the prisoners there poorly to say the least, however, I never imagined how those prisoners must feel knowing they are innocent. The most powerful moment of the movie so far is when he explains why he acts like a “difficult” prisoner. He says in following the rules that are put upon him, he acknowledges that those rules are okay to have been instituted in the first place. He has a point. The Americans have no right whatsoever to give rules to these prisoners who are innocent. The most amazing part of the movie is the resilience in resistance from the prisoners. They stand together in hunger strikes because they simply have nothing to lose. So far I like this movie, and am interested to see how it will end.

This week in class we talked a lot about spirituality. This lecture felt a lot like a philosophy class as we talked about life. We talked about fostering a balance in our daily lives. This is something I struggle with greatly.  I think practicing your specific religion is your testimony on how you choose to live your life. Religion sets guidelines to help create morale. Even though I identify as a Muslim, I feel that this class can relate to people of all faiths. A point that stuck out to me the most was the balance between hope and fear. Behind hope there is fear and behind fear there is hope.

Camp X-Ray is a rather difficult movie to watch as it leaves you feeling conflicted. In the movie we meet Ali. An avid reader locked away in a small room for the rest of his life so something he may or may have not done. It is difficult to not sympathize with him as we see his struggle to make the best out of such an inhumane situation. These men in the cells are treated like cattle. They are maneuvered around in groups and are forced to do whatever the guards want them to. When Ali said he wasn’t living for himself but rather he was alive for them. To be stripped away of your will and your basic human rights is a thought that most of us as college students cannot even fathom. In response to @prajka, I too thought the sexual assault of the main character was alarming. Already as one of the few women in the military, she has to continuously prove herself to her fellow guards. On top of that pressure, she was a target for abuse. It’s awful how helpless she felt that she could not even report the crime.