Islam students at LUC

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I enjoyed this class very much. I didn’t know much about Islam going into the class, but was excited for all the new information I was going to learn. I really enjoyed how this class was structured, with half the class being lecture and the other half being a movie. The lectures were structured in a way that made them interesting to listen to and even offered many opportunities for class participation to make the lectures unique to our class, while still learning all the required content. The movies were all very interesting and offered us different insights on Islam and how it is portrayed in various parts of the world. I looked forward to this class every week, and I am actually sad that it is over. I am so glad I took this class because now I have a greater understanding of Islam in a time where Muslims are being incorrectly portrayed by the media. I understand that what the media mostly says about Muslims is quite inaccurate and I can use my knowledge to now inform others so they better understand as well.

I agree with @koalabear93 in the idea that classes that teach Islam should be made more available to the public, especially during this time when so much is being said about Muslims that is inaccurate and the amount of people who don’t understand the inaccuracy that is present. I think these types of classes should be made available for all religions, but especially Islam, simply due to the prevalence in today’s society. The media can twist the truth and can be very convincing for people who are uneducated about the religion. If more people were exposed to a class like this, I truly think there would be less misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the Muslim population and the true intentions and beliefs of the religion of Islam.

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This week we did not have class, so as a supplement, I decided to watch one of the at-home movies: the documentary, “What a Billion Muslims Really Think”. Overall, I thought it was an interesting documentary, one that I think many people could benefit from, especially those who do not know about Islamic religion. It showed a lot of statistics and facts that show that the acts of 9/11 and even the recent news with ISIL (even though that was not mentioned in the documentary) show a very small percentage (less than 1%) of Muslims worldwide. The lack of education of Islam and emphasis on Muslims in the news in a negative light do not help people understand Muslims any better; in fact, it forces people who do not educate themselves on the religion to believe that Islam is a violent religion, when in fact it is the exact opposite. Many people do not fully understand the religion of Islam, and this documentary emphasized that all America needs is a little knowledge of the religion to better understand its people and the intentions Muslims have to live good lives.

In response to @punjabinextdoor, I agree with your thoughts on the documentary. I also liked how the polling directors actually went into the homes of the people they surveyed instead of simply sending the survey out. I thought it made it a lot more personable and I feel they were able to get more in-depth answers than they would have had they not gone and talked with the families in their homes. I also like how they made sure to get people from all walks of life, to ensure that as wide variety people were accounted for as possible. I agree with you as well when you say that it is worrisome to see the statistics show ignorance among people in regards to their knowledge of the Islamic religion. An entire religion is being oppressed, all because they are not fully understood by the people oppressing them, which I find terribly sad. A lack of education (just like every other reason) should not be a reason as to why a population of people is being oppressed.

This past week in class, we discussed Justice. We learned about how justice simply means finding an equilibrium and putting things in their proper place. We talked about the four aspects of life that justice focuses on (shelter & sustenance, trade & travel, security from fear, and religious observance). Doing each feature justice means calling to what is right in each and forbidding what is wrong in each. I think the most interesting aspect of this lecture was the idea that everyone is responsible for the injustice in the world, even if only a small portion of the world is inflicting that injustice. I had to think about this idea for a while, but in the end, I think it makes sense, because it makes us all responsible for taking a part in ending injustice, for it is not one single person’s job to put an end to it, but the job of everyone.

In light of my response to this week’s lecture, I would like to tie it in with the response from @finneas93. I wish we could have gotten a chance to discuss the recent attacks in Paris and Beruit, for I have also seen and heard of the backlash that has been going around in the news and social media, saying that Islam is a religion that promotes hate and violence, when really, ISIL is a small group of a group of people and a great misrepresentation of a religion that actually promotes peace. It reminds me of the lecture we attended as a class a few weeks ago about ISIL and how the group does not portray the religion of Islam correctly at all. I could not think of a better time to be taking this class, and to be educating myself on what Islam is truly about. I knew Islam was never a violent religious group anyway, but I am so glad to be learning about it in greater detail now, so I could possibly help spread the message about and bring justice to the truth of what Islam really is all about.

 

This week in class we continued to learn about the many spiritual concepts that we started learning last week. As we were asked specific questions about each concept (“What do you desire? Do your desires make you want to persevere or do they drag you down?”, “How honest are you?”, “Is life good?” “What is it that imprisons you?”) I was connecting them all to my life, and reflecting on them through the experiences I have had. I found that not only was I learning about Islam, but I was also learning about myself a little, thinking about how all of the spiritual concepts relate to me. I thought it was interesting and I liked how I was able to relate the concepts in class to my daily life. It has actually caused me to think about changes I can make to have a happier life that better fits concepts like these. I am interested to learn about the rest.

In response to @hashir1211, I couldn’t agree with you more on the movie we just began watching, Malcolm X. We have definitely come a long way since this movie in regards to racism and civil rights, but we still have a way to go, especially with what has been happening recently down at Mizzou (University of Missouri). This movie showing could not have been at a more perfect time. With Loyola’s recent protest in light of the events at Mizzou, the talk of white privilege and racism is happening at our own university. It has been amazing to see the support from Loyola’s community, fighting against racism. It is hard to think that it is still a prevalent issue today, and I would have hoped we would have made more progress by now. Despite that, we must do what we can to put an end to all racism and violence, and while we still have a way to go, this is a good start on the continuation process to end it all.

This past week, we discussed many different spiritual concepts. The more concepts we discussed, the more I saw connections between them and the importance of balancing them out (fear/hope, balancing desires, etc.). It made me look at my life and reflect on whether or not my life is balanced. I’ve realized that as a college student, it is hard to keep everything balanced. Discussing these concepts in one of the most unbalanced semesters for me helped me to reflect on where I am and what I need to do to regain some balance back into my life. These concepts I think could very well tie in with what we discussed two weeks ago in class, about using your senses to bring you back to your center. I feel like that can help with finding good balance between the spiritual concepts we learned about this past week. Looking forward, I could see using these ideas to help me in creating a better, more balanced life for myself.

In response to @earofvangogh I agree with your thoughts on connections between religions. I, too, was raised Catholic, but am making connections and agreeing with many things I have learned in this course. I love how I am able to relate a lot of the information to my life, even though I am not Muslim. This is one of the things I think is so beautiful about religion in general. While there are many different religions practiced throughout the world, they can all be connected and tied to similar basic truths of being good and kind to others all while finding true happiness within yourself. Even if someone is not religious, I still feel like the things we have talked about in class, especially this past week, can be relatable to them. I feel like some of these practices can be beneficial to anyone, and that is something that I really like.

In class this past week, we did exercises with each of our five senses. I really enjoyed these exercises as it allowed me to get in touch and connect with those parts of my body for even just a short while. Even though each exercise was only 15 seconds, I found it rather difficult to even focus for that long. It made me realize how many places my mind is at one given time. When I was forced to focus on one thing for a while, I found my mind slowly drift to other things without me even realizing. The second time we did each exercise, I found myself able to focus a little better, but it was still challenging. I think that those are good focusing exercises and over time with practice I feel they would allow you to be better connected with your body, and help re-focus you when you are feeling stressed or your mind feels scattered and in a million different places.

In response to @freshlikezamzam, I agree, and had also never heard of the three levels of Islam. I enjoyed learning about these, and throughout that part of the lecture, I was trying to connect it to my Christian faith and my personal experiences of each of the levels. Most of the time, I experience my faith on the level of Islam, going throughout my day not thinking about or making connections to God. There are times, however where I have experienced faith on the level of Iman, where I think of God as putting specific events in my life for a reason and thinking of God first after I see or experience something. It could be something as simple as a sunrise, where I think of God first, and thank God for blessing me with it. It could also be something such as a major event in my life, either happy or sad, that I think of God and think that whatever event that just happened is a message or sign from God, helping me determine my next step in life. I was able to make many connections to my personal life and faith during this portion of the lecture, which I enjoyed very much.

In class this week, we learned about the different sectarian divisions of Islam (Sunni, Shia, and Ibadi). I have heard Sunni and Shia discussed and touched upon previously before this class, but I didn’t know much about them. It was interesting to learn the difference between the two in who they follow; Sunni following the companions of Muhammad and Shia following a specific group of descendants (family) of Muhammad. I had never learned about the Ibadi before. Prior to the lecture, I thought Islam was divided between just Sunni and Shia. Despite the fact that it makes up such a small portion of Islam, I appreciated how it was included, because every other time I have heard about the different sectors of Islam, it has never been touched upon.

In class we also learned about Islamic spirituality vs. Islamic law (interior vs. exterior). I enjoyed learning about this too, and the discussion that followed about spirituality. I loved hearing everyone’s thoughts on what they think spirituality is. Since spirituality and religion is different for every person, I was glad we got to openly discuss it and everyone’s views and opinions were respected.

In response to @doublestuffedoreo93, I agree with your response to the movie, Four Lions. At the beginning of the movie, I was also hesitant to be laughing because of the fact that terrorism is such a touchy subject in the United States. Now, almost done with the movie, I am able to laugh along, but there is still a little piece of me that finds it strange to be laughing at terrorists and their plans for making bombs to prove a point. I also agree with the wife’s reaction to everything. The fact that they were discussing it so openly and casually was so shocking to me. As a wife, if my husband was planning this, I would be doing everything in my power to try to get him to fight against the injustices in a different way. Since I haven’t experienced what the characters have, I don’t think I will ever understand that. I am not saying it is bad, it is just different than how I would have handled the situation. I am interested to see how this movie is going to end.