Islam students at LUC

Author Archive

This was our last week of class, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed this course. As someone raised Catholic, I began to question my faith during my final years of high school, and this questioning has continued through college. While I know my path to finding my faith is far from over, I loved increasing my knowledge of Islam, such a widespread faith, and seeing how religion impacts the lives of Muslims. I know I will continue with my interest in Islam, and I hope that my curiosity about other religions continues to grow and that it will help me to find my path of spirituality.

As far as the class itself, I think this is one of the best classes I have taken at Loyola. I think the topic matter is extremely important given what is happening around the world in terms of Islam, and it is important for college students to have a basis to understand the issues surrounding this religion so that they can make informed and intellectual decisions. I looked forward to this class every week, which is rare for me, and I have recommended this class to several friends, as it has been one of my favorites. Not only is the course material itself interesting, as well as the movies we watched entertaining, Mozaffar created a casual space for discussion that facilitated learning in such a fun and unique way, and I wish I had time to take more courses he offers!

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We did not have class this week, and so I spent this time finishing Malcolm X (I was not sure how far we got into it in the last class, since I was absent), and found this movie to be extremely moving. As someone who considers herself well-rounded and who was exposed to African American culture throughout every level of education, I honestly did not even realize that Malcolm X was assassinated, and I’m extremely ashamed of that fact. I even had friends in school that were Muslim African Americans, yet I never really understood what that meant because I did not understand what it meant to be Muslim.

I agree with @landocalrissiano in that the portrayal of Malcolm X in the film was extremely life like, in that his flaws were portrayed as well as his idealized traits. I think that if Malcolm X had been portrayed as a martyr, the audience would not connect to his personal and spiritual growth, which I think are important for everyone to see. I think Malcolm X represents a way that we should all look at religion: while we can have our beliefs and stay committed to them, it is important to allow our faith to grow.

For this lesson, we discussed the idea of justice as an equilibrium, where you must put things in their proper place and fulfill responsibilities. I think it is important to always have justice as an ideal to work towards, because without justice there is no progress. It is especially important in modern times, where human rights are being violated, discrimination is still prevalent, gaps in wealth and income are increasing, and poverty and hunger affect huge populations of the world. The idea that we are citizens of a society, and that we owe something to this society, is not a new notion, but I think it is one that we must truly embrace in order to overcome the tragic disparities present in our lives today.

I agree with @pizzaluvr5, in that I did not receive a lot of education on Malcolm X growing up, despite going to a diverse school with a large African American population. I feel as though the emphasis on Malcolm X was in relation to MLK, but his own accomplishments were kept separated from our lessons, because discussing Islam was never brought up in my elementary school days. I wish I had known more about him when I was growing up, because I think his contributions to the civil rights movement were significant, and that the way he went about things provides a great example for all who grow up with prejudices. I also wonder how the disparity in representation of African Americans that contributed to the civil rights movement came to be, with the actions MLK far outweighing any other civil rights activist during the time, as far as lessons about civil rights go.

This week in class, we finished Camp X-Ray. I was really moved by this film, because I felt that both Amy and Ali had suffered in entirely different ways, but both in ways that are important and should be addressed in today’s society. As of this month, 107 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay, despite Obama’s promises to close Guantanamo Bay. Many of these detainees are being held as “enemy combatants”, and while some may have been, many are being held unjustly, and this issue needs to be brought back into the spotlight of Western media. The bureaucracy of the United States government and the army system also need to be addressed, because being a cog in a machine that cannot live by a proper moral code is also dehumanizing, though not to the extent that being a detainee in Guantanamo Bay dehumanizes you.

In response to @iwishihadpizza, I think you brought up a really important point that as a Western culture, we need to notice what is happening globally, not just in our allied Western countries. While the Paris attacks were such a tragedy, I think it’s just as important to realize the atrocities happening worldwide have been a culmination of many other atrocities, and that they are all connected. One of the biggest things I have found issue with is people blaming Syrians for these issues, and denying refugees entrance as a result. Only one of the assailants in Paris came through because of the Syrian refugee waves, and he wasn’t even Syrian. I think it is important to realize the different between Muslims and the extremists that are committing these terrible actions.

This week in class, we discussed Islamic spirituality. I thought that the spectrum analogy for hope and fear was really creative and a great way of explaining how Muslims need both for their spirituality. I think it was important to note the two extremes as well, to realize that without hope you will be in utter despair, and that without fear you would have no doubt, and that both are not healthy. People need to realize that their hope and fear work in tandem with each other, and that a person must have more hope than fear in the world around them, so that they take chances and risks to succeed, but that the world must have more fear than hope in you, because the world will never know just what you’re capable of becoming and how successful you can be if you just keep working toward your goals.

I agree with @echo9893 that Amy was set apart from the other soldiers by her sense of humanity, and that she viewed the prisoners not as just prisoners, but as people. The most striking scene to me was the scene where Ali finds out she is leaving, and while his threat of suicide was surprising, I was most touched by her confession to him of her real name and where she was from. In that moment, she realized that following orders from her superiors may not always be the right call if it dehumanizes others to the point of no return, and she realizes that these prisoners are just people, and should be treated as such. I love that she told him her name, it really showed a change in her character and that she no longer was simply following orders, she was allowing her opinions on the matter to dictate her actions.

We did an exercise to see if we could focus our senses on different things, which was hard to do! I kept getting distracted and started to think about other things, or “Sorry” by Justin Bieber started running through my head. Next we did a similar exercise but it was all about imagining we were in those situations, and this was easier, and it showed how we can take control of our thoughts and our imagination. I thought this was a really fresh way to discuss how humans interact with their environment through sensory connections. I agree with @greenbaypackers87, in that it was really difficult and I felt very disconnected when I couldn’t focus my mind for 15 seconds on the task at hand! I think technology probably plays a big part in being unable to focus inwardly or outwardly on singular things, because technology is so multitask-oriented to begin with.

I also went to the Chai Chat with Qutaiba Idlibi, a Syrian activist, this week. It was really interesting to hear about his struggles, and how personal the problems in Syria are for him. Hearing about how he was treated in prison was really hard to hear, because I’ve never met someone before who has dealt with torture and imprisonment, especially for someone who has done nothing wrong to warrant these actions. While the talk was extremely eye-opening, there was one moment where he referred to a 27 year-old woman who started the first demonstration, and he referred to her as a “girl” and seemed in disbelief that a “girl” could accomplish this. While maybe this has something to do with his cultural upbringing, he’s a young man living in the United States now working for Syrian justice and bringing about awareness; personally, I think he should realize his audience and should have realized how degrading that comment seemed. Other than that, I think he was a very intelligent and passionate man, and I loved hearing his story, which really helped me gain perspective into my own life.

We finished watching Four Lions, and honestly I’m so glad it’s over. I thought the end was really hard to watch, because it showed that their actions had gone to far and going back on their word was impossible at that point, which I thought was extremely sad. We began a new movie, Camp X Ray, and so far I am enjoying it so much! I can’t wait to finish it next class.

This past class, we discussed the Sunni and the Shi’i and how their beliefs differed. It was really interesting because for me, I always thought there was a political element to their differences, but this class showed me that it really just comes down to who they get their information from. I thought it very intriguing to see how the Islamic law is taken different ways by the different sects, in ways that I had not known existed.

Although we haven’t quite finished Four Lions, I’m honestly really ready for it to be over. In response to @prajka, I agree that black comedy is an acquired taste but this felt so radically ridiculous that I’m not sure I can really get on board with this as a comedic film. I also wonder about the director’s vision, and whether he is creating this film to show the media’s portrayal or Muslims, or to target those that consider themselves radical terrorists. You mentioned the main character’s devout brother, and I thought it was interesting the juxtaposition the director put in between the extremists expecting to be arrested and the cops storming into the devout brother’s home. They even found the water gun and were using that to show that he was “dangerous”, while we all know that it is his brother they should be after. It makes me wonder if groups like this actually exist in parts of the world; attempting to be terrorists and promote their beliefs but ultimately failing because they’re honestly just a group of dumb men that don’t know how to do anything.