Islam students at LUC

Archive for November 27th, 2015

This week in class we learned about the three levels that Muslims can be at in terms of their faith. The higher the level is, the closer one is to God, and the more selfless the person is. These three levels are Islam, Iman, and Ihsan. I have attended Islamic school growing up, but this was something I had not learned previously. Islam is the first level and this is when a Muslim follows the Five Pillars of Islam. The second highest level is Iman. A person reaching Iman believes not only that Allah exist, but also that he is capable of doing anything he wants. Ihsan, is the third level and this is the level of righteousness and perfection. Professor Mozaffar explained to us that there is a level even higher than Ihsan, which is the level that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the other prophets are at.

I agree with skhaleel1 that Malcolm X’s transformation was very impressive. At first he went from a drug-abusing criminal to a well-respected leader in the black community. Then, he went from being a minister in the Nation of Islam to a practicing Sunni Muslim. Even though the Nation of Islam put such horrible ideas in his head, he was still able to understand the true meaning of Islam. He finally realized that black supremacy was not the answer and that equality was. I was also glad that he was able to perform Hajj and find peace within himself before he was assassinated. One scene in the movie that stood out to me was when the Nation of Islam burned Malcolm’ house down because it paralleled the scene when his home was burned down when he was a child. However, the first time was by white klan members, and the second time was by other African Americans. This reiterates the point that “white people” were not the problem, ignorance and hatred was.

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This week in class we talked about the three levels of “closeness” to God – Islam, Iman, and Isan. I liked the example Professor used to illustrate the differences between the three: when you’re Islam, you are surprised when a prayer is answered; when you’re Iman, you assume every prayer will be answered; and when you’re Ihsan, everything is a prayer. It seems like it might be hard to put a person in exactly one category. I feel like a lot of people are probably considered Islam on most days but could be considered Iman every once and awhile. I feel like devotion isn’t a stagnant thing – it can move up and down depending on how a person’s life is going. During class, I also began to w0nder if other religions have a similar way of “categorizing” a person’s closeness to God. In Catholicism, it seems like you become closer to God as you get higher up in the church. For example, most Catholics would probably agree that the Pope is the person closest to God.  It is interesting how devotion might be measured different ways in different religions.

I had similar feelings to @blackhawks2015 in regards to the movie Malcolm X. I knew very, very little about Malcolm X before watching the movie, and as such I would have liked to see more about his accomplishments rather than his pre-jail escapades. I do believe that Malcolm X was a very important player in the Civil Rights Movement, but I still find it hard to relate to him. He was a bit more extreme than any other Civil Rights activist I had previously learned about, though I can’t exactly blame him for his feelings towards the white community. I guess I would have liked to see more about his very late life, from when he left the Nation of Islam and up until his death. Overall, I really enjoyed Malcolm X (and it didn’t hurt that Denzel starred in it).

This week in class we discussed the 3 levels or phases a person will go through in the process of their devotion in order to become closer with God. First submission, then security and finally perfection. In the beginning, one is compelled by some external force, which inspires their prayer. Moving forward, the is a developing internal motive or force that inspires the believer’s prayer. Lastly, in the final phase there is a force from the divine, which inspires the prayer. One will progress from seeing the world and everything in it as a reminder of God to ultimately being in direct communication with God. As one grows in their faith, these levels are designed to bring the believer closer and closer to God.   As one becomes closer with God, they develop a reordered sense of priority. The closer to God one is, they will put others before themself and the inverse of this would be that the further from God one is, their sense of importance and fulfillment is derived from their own needs and desires rather than those of others. This process is also designed to make one see that God and others are to come before all else in the hierarchy of life.

In response to northwestandpenelope, I agree that a person’s faith is something that must come from within the person. I see how there are parallels with Christianity in regard to the levels of faith that Islam also shows us. By being introduced to the religion and working towards a closeness with God through prayer etc., this is something that is up to the individual and cannot be falsely created. This made me wonder if it is possible for one to become stuck at a certain level, if prayer and actions of devotion are not enough to get someone to a higher level of faith, thus creating a relationship with God.   As faith is something that one must cultivate with his or her own spirit, I wonder if it takes more time to attain this for some and if others rapidly mature in their faith and develop a connection to God. Faith, whether considering Islam or Christianity, can be a mystery and only the believer can answer to them self and God.

With the conclusion of the Malcolm X movie, I have to say it was exceptionally made and well-executed. I can’t speak about how historically accurate the movie was, but I have to say I was quite moved by the transformation of the character of Malcolm X. His transition from a criminal drug-addict to well-respected member of the black community was definitely mind-boggling, but I think his transition from a member of the Nation of Islam to a Sunni Muslim was more impressive. Despite all the bad experiences he had in the past and all the brainwashing of the Nation of Islam, he was able to find peace and realize the truth about the struggle of black Americans. White Americans were not the problem; rather, it was ignorance and hatred. The Nation of Islam thoroughly demonstrated that good and evil qualities are not unique to specific races. Overall, great movie, almost teared up at the end.

In response to , I absolutely agree with you. Denzel Washington’s portrayal of Malcolm X was superb, whether or not it was historically accurate. I think he portrayed Malcolm X’s final moments particularly well, with the fear, anger, contemplation, and acceptance before he decides to speak before the audience. Watching the movie, I definitely felt like I understood Malcolm’s thoughts and beliefs as they evolved throughout his life. He acted and preached from what he truly believed to be right. Even though he was misguided at times and generally maintained harsh and separating beliefs against white Americans, he did his best to maintain a code of dignity and morality despite all that surrounded him, eventually realizing that it was unfair to group all non-black Americans into the same pool. For this, I have immense respect for the character as he was portrayed in the movie, and it definitely makes me want to learn more about his life.

This week in class we discussed the idea of justice, and whether or not America was a just society. I thought the amount of people who didn’t think America was just was interesting, but not unpredictable considering we’re college students at a liberal arts school. I didn’t like the argument that suggested that America was a just society in relation to other places on Earth. Just because someone else is worse doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still strive to be continually better. I did agree with the point that it is impossible to be completely just and that it is a continual process, especially as different aspects of society are introduced with have their own set of ethics (like different forms of technology). We also learned about different levels of faith and submission to God in Islam, starting with Islam as the most basic level. Next, people may reach Iman, and after, Ihsan. I like how the further along the “spectrum” one goes, the more selfless and less ego-centric they become, which I think is one of the most important qualities a person can have.

In response to @andrewrylandwhite, I think that was a good explanation of why we learn more about MLK than Malcolm X. Before this movie, I knew extremely little about Malcolm X and now knowing what I do I feel like he should be a fundamental figure in learning about civil rights and black injustices. I think that his initial hatred for white people doesn’t sit well with a lot of people, which is why educators might dismiss him, but I agree that post-Hajj, he saw Islam as a unifying factor, transcending race and ethnicity, which I think he should have realized long before the Hajj if he were truly a devout Muslim, following the teachings of Muhammad and the Qur’an. 

This week in class we had a long discussion on justice. Many people shared what they believe the definition of justice is, how they identify it and what it means to them. For the most part the reaction was when something bad happens and the culprit gets what he/she deserves, or we as a society are just when there is no poverty, hungry people, or violence. I think justice can be present on a micro and macro level. Of course we, as a society, are so far from being just because there are tragedies everyday and so many people do not receive basic access to food, water, and shelter. But, on a micro scale, when there is some sort of tragic single event, lets say, a shooting, justice can be served when the culprit is found and handled through our justice system. I really appreciated a comment made in class by a girl who sits in the front row, she explained that there’s no way that our society can be just when our legal system is so flawed to begin with. How can we ever reach justice when the system that determines our justice is not just itself?

In response to amygardenerww, I also felt a lot more clarity on the subject that we went over in class on Monday dealing with the different levels of Islam. I had no idea that, that was a concept of the religion before, but it makes sense and I’ve definitely realized that through the Muslim people that I know. From what I’ve experienced of my peers it almost feels like there are less involved people (the Islam, submission level) who are younger, and as they grow older they feel more attached and maybe reach the next level of Islam. Just as amygardenerww mentioned, I could absolutely see how this concept could be transferrable to other religions as well. Even if there may not be a written rule on it, there are always levels to spirituality and always room to grow within religion and faith.

I was unable to attend class last week, however from reading the blog posts of other students, I understand that the three different levels of faith were discussed. The three levels are Islam, Iman, and Ihsan. The level, Islam refers to someone who prays a few times a day. Iman refers to someone who does all five prayers, and Ihsan is someone who is always in a meditative state of mind. After doing a little more research, I learned that these are three levels are ways in which one can feel closer to God. It is interesting to see that the vast majority of Muslims are Islam, which means that they pray the basic requirement, and needed amount. If one is deeply connected to God, then they might be Ihsan since that level is constant meditation and praying. Also, I find it quite thought provoking that people are categorized by the amount they pray or feel connected to God. I find it very difficult to place myself in one of the levels since I identify with a religion, however do not feel very connected to it.

In response to blackhawks2015, I agree that everyone needs to work towards justice to overall benefit society. The topic of justice was also mentioned in class and how it compares with the Christian idea of social sin. I think that it is valid to say that everyone must work creating and maintaining a society in where justice is served. However, if justice is not met, then that does not particularly mean that everyone is at fault. Also, I agree when you said that the movie was interesting in the way it portrayed Malcolm X. I remember vaguely learning about Malcolm back in high school, however I was not that familiar with his accomplishments. The movie did a good job showing his life in detail and how each event impacted who he was as a person overall.