Islam students at LUC

Archive for November 13th, 2015

In class on Monday, we talked about Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all in relation to each other with regards to spirituality. From a Judaic perspective, Christianity seemed to emphasize a lot of spirituality but not as much focus on deeds, and from a Christian perspective, Judaism focused a lot on action and at least a little less on spirituality. While from an outside point of view this seems to make sense, I’m curious as to whether this is a generally held notion between the two religions. I do not know enough about either to make a claim, but I would like to know how one would either justify or argue against such statements. With regards to Islam seeing itself as a balance between the two, I think that notion would generally be accepted, but I have definitely seen times in my life in which I focused more on the action of prayer rather than the spiritual aspect, and other times in which I’ve been more spiritual but less consistent with action.

In response to sahmed1231, I think you are absolutely right about that aspect about most religions in general. While the end goal may not always necessarily be the same, most major religions emphasize leading a righteous life in order to attain them. Pretty much all of them agree that one should be kind to others and live in a wholesome, moral manner. I think that while this idea is widely agreed upon between various religions, some may call for differing actions to attain such a lifestyle. Islam may, for example, view the consumption of alcohol as being detrimental to living a moral life, but Christianity may differ on that opinion. Of course, these differences do not significantly change the overarching message of each religion. While the practice or methodology of attaining enlightenment, salvation, etc. may differ between religions, they are all just unique ways of attempting to bring out the best in humanity.

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In class this week, we discussed the ultimate or end goal of various religions. After going around the class and stating what we thought the ultimate goal of religion is, I think the goal of religion can vary person to person. Some may say it’s to gain access to heaven if they believe in an afterlife, while others may say it is just to build good character. As mentioned in class, the terminology within the different religions really impacts what can be defined as the ultimate goal of that religion. An example that the professor brought up in regards to this is that heaven in Christianity and Islam apparently isn’t the same thing. Therefore, the end goal of different religions may sound similar, but can also differ. I believe that religions have similar goals in general, such as building a better person out of ones self, but their ultimate goal can differ.

In response to lucrambler7249, I too am eager to continue watching the movie in class. I found it troubling that Malcolm was going to such great lengths, in my opinion, to be more of a white man rather than embracing his own race. The reason behind me having a hard time with this is because white people have caused much suffering in Malcolm’s life, yet he still tries to be like them as if trying to make them accept him. One part of the movie that stuck out to me was when the teacher was telling young Malcolm not to pursue his dream of becoming a lawyer, but rather to become a carpenter because that was socially acceptable for black people at the time whereas being a lawyer wasn’t. That scene actually made me angry because that teacher was manipulating a young boy into believing what he wanted to pursue was not acceptable.

This week in class we discussed a topic that was very different and something that I have thought about, but I never put much effort into really getting into the core of the subject.  We discussed whether or not religions have similar goals, and their differences in achieving their goals.  It is really interesting to me how each religion goes about life in such different ways.  I always thought it was sweet and simple: the goal of every religion was to reach salvation to go to heaven.  However, it is much more complex than that, especially when you add on the differences in how each religion goes about doing habits to make them be “good” people.  Later in class, we started watching a movie about Black Americans in the mid 1900s.  This movie is definitely very differenct from what we watched before because its setting is not in any type of Muslim/Islamic setting that we have encountered before.

In response to @lucrambler7249, I am also very eager to keep watching the film to see how Malcom is going to transform from this infidel to a devout Muslim.  I feel like it really can capture the lives of many Muslims today.  I know of many stories like Malcoms, where a Muslim, and even a non-Muslim, do things that are not necessarily accepted in their society or looked down upon.  But as time goes on, these infidels come closer to God and become more religious because they feel like that way of life is wrong after doing and trying all the things they have.  I also agree that white people did seem to cause pain in the movie.  I feel like white people, until this day, feel the right to have a sense of superiority towards many minority groups.  It saddens me that, at one point in American history, being lustful or even in love with some of a different race can put you in jail

This week in class we discussed whether or not religions are, at their basis, really just different versions of the same thing. I was interested by this conversation but at the time didn’t have much to say about it, as I was not completely sure where I stood on the matter. However, after thinking about it further, I think I can come to at least one conclusion. Perhaps the goal of each religion is not the same, but I believe the reason behind each religion’s existence (and religion as a whole) boils down to the same thing: people want something more. Most people – if not everyone – are not comfortable with the fact that this earthly life may be all there is to human existence. I think it is hard for people (myself included) to accept that humans are just another group of animals, that perhaps we have no greater purpose than to ensure our own specie’s survival. We all want to believe there is something more after death, that there is “something bigger” out there that for some reason cares about what we do or who we are. And thus humanity created religion and its many different forms. In my opinion, the faith we find in religion serves to fill the hole of existential doubt that exists in every one of us.

In response to @lucrambler7249, I am also pretty excited to continue watching Malcolm X. So far, the movie has been nothing like I expected, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is so strange to see how much anger Malcolm has toward whites given all of the ways he tries to suppress his “blackness,” per se – dating white women, relaxing his hair, etc. I had no previous knowledge of Malcolm X’s life prior to his role in the Civil Rights Movement, and given his early life experiences, I see now why he became the passionate (and even somewhat extreme) activist that he did. I am seriously looking forward to seeing how the height of his transformation is portrayed in the movie.

After our discussion this week in class about the similarities of religion, I am honestly more confused than ever. Walking into the class, I was pretty convinced that all religions have the same fundamental goals. But then after the discussion, I really am not sure where I stand anymore. Of course religions have numerous similarities, but are these similarities fundamental? I don’t think I know enough about each religion to make a conclusion one way or another. Even if all religions were fundamentally the same in their goals, I think the journey to get to that goal is imperative and needs to be personal. I think that, even if religions were all fundamentally identical, there would still be merit in having a multitude of religions. Different practices will resound with different people. People should have the option to choose a religion that allows them to feel empowered and simultaneously humbled by the practices, rituals, and prayers. Drawing from our discussion from a couple classes ago, spirituality is a very personal, intimate experience. Having many religions, even if they are fundamentally identical, is meaningful and important.

Just like everyone else, I’ll also respond to @lucrambler7249. I am also definitely looking forward to watching this film (I even forgot all about not having finished Wadjda!) With all of the powerful and transformative activism happening at college campuses across the country surrounding #BlackLivesMatter and the racial injustices at not just Mizzou and Yale, but all institutions throughout the United States, it is timely to be watching Malcolm X grow up into his activism as well. I am eager to see how Islam plays a role in his life as a Black activitist during the Civil Rights Movement. It is so important to remember the influential and earth-shattering work that a Black Muslim man did and the changes he ignited in our country, especially amidst the development of a new movement in the making.

In our last class we discussed in detail the aspects of different religions and what was asked of the class was if all religions are the same. As we discussed it became apparent that although religions share common teachings, the golden rule, religions differ on a fundamental level. What I especially liked was the movie analogy which stated if all movies tell the same story you might as well just watch one and never see another movie again. This is translated into the statement if all religions preach the same thing why even have them. But as we discussed and learned in class although religions might have common teachings, they’re fundamentally different in their exact goals and how to reach those goals, as we saw in the Heaven example. In my opinion I see religions as fulfilling the same need in people’s lives while being radically different and this is reflected in the many traditions in religions that cannot be exchanged, such as drinking sacramental wine in church which is not compatible with Islam teachings.

To respond to rims1313, I believe making a sweeping generalize statement like “every religion expects” is simplifying a rather complex subject. As we discussed in class, if every religion was valid it wouldn’t make mcuh sense. If you take a look at any common subject such as sin, we find religions have completely different takes on the subjects. In class we only discussed five religions, and sadly the world has many religions that have radically different beliefs that wouldn’t align with the big 5. Things such as sacred prostitution in ancient Greece, ritual human sacrifice in Mesoamerica, and Ceremonial pipe smoking in Native American culture obviously do not align with the big 5 religions that we talked about in class. To give an example, if you ask 100 people from different religions, or even the same religion, what the perfect world would be like, you would in turn get 100 different answers. Many would be similar, but all would be slightly different or even radically different. To say that these are all the same perfect world would be to say that all these people believe in the same thing. Although it is nice to believe that religions are similar and compatible, the truth is that religions vary dramatically and they cannot all be lumped in together saying that they believe the same thing.

This week in class we discussed the end goals of religion and talked a little bit about the differences between the major religions (Islam, Christianity, Judaism, etc.). It is my personal belief that though the practices and traditions of each religion may be different, the overall outcome and main goal is the same. I understand that the different religions have different ideas of heaven/salvation and religious practices, and that there are differences even within the same religion, but I still believe the similarities outweigh the differences. For me, I think religion’s most important function besides a spiritual relationship with God is that it provides a moral framework. I think that even though the routes that religions take appear different, they have the end. I’m still figuring out my own personal religious beliefs, but I feel that everyone ends up in heaven. To me, heaven is not just a paradise for the good, it is a place of omniscient understanding. People will see their lives and understand their rights and wrongs and understand each other. Obviously it’s important to be a good person, but I think to be a good person and understand fully why is much more important. I don’t think it’s so much about specific religion or the name you call your God, but more about your understanding of your own life and others and the intertwined relationship of the universe. I guess I define the end goal of religion is heaven, and to me heaven is understanding and loving everyone.

In response to lucrambler7245, this week’s movie really stressed me out. I found Malcolm’s journey so far to be frustrating as it’s really difficult to look back at the extreme racism of the 20th century and not be sad. It was especially interesting to watch given all that is happening at Mizzou and the recent protests on Loyola’s campus. I must admit that I like this movie much less than some of the other ones we watched. It will be interesting to see how everything unfolds, but something about it really rubs me the wrong way.