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Islam. A Growing Religion. Islam is an important religion to know about for many reasons, one of which is that it’s the world’s 2nd largest, as well as the fastest growing religion. The Central Idea.

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a growing religion
A Growing Religion
  • Islam is an important religion to know about for many reasons, one of which is that it’s the world’s 2nd largest, as well as the fastest growing religion.
the central idea
The Central Idea
  • “The word Islam means “submission,” and the name tells us that the central idea of this faith is simply full and complete submission to the will of God. An adherent of the faith is called a Muslim, one who has made the submission.”
the five pillars
The Five Pillars
  • “The practice of Islam centers on what are commonly called its Five Pillars: reciting the creed that states that there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his Prophet; praying 5 times daily; giving alms; keeping a fast during the month of Ramadan; & once in one’s life, if possible, making the pilgrimage to Mecca.
the golden age
The Golden Age
  • “During the Golden Age of the Caliphate, science, philosophy, and theology were extensively cultivated.”
sunni and shi a
Sunni and Shi’a
  • Sunni Islam emphasizes the traditional path of Islamic life as interpreted by the consensus of scholars & the community. Shi’a Islam, while following the traditional path, also puts its faith in the authority of Imams who are Muhammad’s hereditary successors.”
islamic mysticism
Islamic Mysticism
  • Islamic mysticism, called Sufism, focuses on the presence of the Divine oneness everywhere, & offers paths to the attainment of union with God.
no consensus
No Consensus
  • There is currently no consensus on how women should fit into Islam and what their place is to be.
the mosque a place of prayer
The Mosque: A Place of Prayer
  • The mosque, a place of prayer to the infinite Lord, has no picture, image, altar, flowers or candles-only a vast, clean, cool, austerely beautiful empty space.
muslim worship
Muslim Worship
  • It is deeply consistent with the basic premise of the faith that whenever feasible, Muslims not only establish Muslim worship, but create Muslim societies under Muslim rulers based on Qur’anic law.
muhammad 570 632
Muhammad (570-632)
  • At the core of Islam lies the experience and faith of Muhammad himself.
journey to yathrib
Journey to Yathrib
  • His journey to Yathrib is called the Hijra, the date from which the Muslim calendar begins; marking the beginning of Muhammad’s public & organizational work on a large scale.
the qur an
The Qur’an
  • It would be more accurate to say that the Qur’an is to Muslims what Jesus (not the Bible) is to Christians.
a standard
A Standard
  • The Qur’an’s Arabic has been compared to Shakespeare’s English. It is the standard by which all other Arabic is compared, and found wanting.
show respect
Show Respect
  • To profane the Qur’an would be like a Catholic having to witness Holy Communion misused and abused.
not a competition
Not a Competition
  • Jesus has, to say the least, been far more highly regarded by Muslims than Muhammad has been by Christians.
submission to god
Submission to God
  • It is just the essence of religion, plain and perfect submission to the absolute God in all areas of life.
no separation
No Separation
  • This focus on the oneness of God & of all life is what allows Islam to remain fundamentally simple. It’s also the key to the Sufi’s understanding of reality. Their whole practice takes off with unity & oneness as the starting point. If we are all one with God, then the separation we experience must be an illusion.
life under the law
Life Under the Law
  • To study the Qur’an is to realize that all of life falls under religious law & is one of the reasons that many Muslims prefer to live in a Muslim ruled state.
  • If the Qur’an is the direct words of Allah, then hadith is the direct words and stories about Muhammad.
jihad holy war
Jihad: Holy War
  • Out of the community ideal of Islam comes the concept of jihad, which is designed to defend Islam & allow its social practice.
a holy struggle
A Holy Struggle
  • Any act of self-control and discipline can be seen as a “holy struggle.”
the first pillar
The First Pillar
  • The first of the five pillars is to say, “There is no god but God (Allah), & Muhammad is the rasul (Prophet or messenger) of God.”
unity and oneness
Unity and Oneness
  • The idea behind charity is solidarity and a celebration of unity and oneness.
not okay
Not Okay
  • The moral issue is not with poor people, but with people who are destitute. Poor is one thing, homeless & starving is another.
spiritual hunger
Spiritual Hunger
  • If we let our physical hunger remind us of our spiritual hunger and let that reminder turn our hearts to prayer, then we are beginning to gain the benefits intended.
the hajj
The Hajj
  • “Abraham under God’s instructions built the cubical shrine at Mecca-the Ka’ba-with the help of Ishmael.”
  • Five times a day the faithful Muslim’s mind and heart, perhaps prompted by the muezzin, turns away from the things of the world to prayer.
the mosque
The Mosque
  • Far simpler in ornamentation than most churches and temples of other faiths, yet imposing and monumental, the mosque well reflects the austerity & majesty of Islam and its God.
a popular hero
A Popular Hero
  • Unlike other religious founders, Muhammad died a popular hero among his people, a ruler, a successful diplomat, politician, & general.
the glorious years
The Glorious Years
  • The years of the Baghdad caliphate (750-1258) & of the Cordova caliphate in Spain (755-1236) were the glorious years of early Islamic civilization.
divine sanction
Divine Sanction
  • The rule of law believed to have Divine sanction inevitably made society static, putting a premium on conformity, rather than innovation & new ideas.
from time into eternity
From Time Into Eternity
  • The famous Persian carpets also often have a comparable sacred message; the spot in the center upon which the elaborate design focuses is an opening from time into eternity.
literary masterpiece
Literary Masterpiece
  • The Qur’an itself is considered a work of not only religious & spiritual genius, but also a literary masterpiece.
jalaluddin rumi 1207 1273
Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273)
  • Rumi wrote that we should “Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel & kiss the ground.”
crucial questions
Crucial Questions
  • Religions must adapt to their surroundings to some extent. How much they should adapt is always one of the crucial questions faced by religious leaders.
islamic scholars
Islamic Scholars
  • Progress was seen as a good thing in Islam, an unfolding of Allah’s will for humans.
reason and limits
Reason and Limits
  • Mystics tend to fall in line with those who follow their hearts. They see a purpose for reason and rationality, but they also see its limits.
integral philosophy
Integral Philosophy
  • From an Integral Philosophy perspective, it is good to have both ways. Neither the mystical nor the rationalist position is “better” than the other.
  • Sunni Islam relies on the consensus of a group of scholars to reach decisions regarding beliefs and practices.
  • Since all three religions are waiting, wouldn’t it be great if they could wait together in peace?
lost in the depths
Lost in the Depths
  • Sufis seek not only to follow his external commandments, but to know him intimately & even to lose themselves in love into the depths of his being.
a timeless path
A Timeless Path
  • “Thus, many Sufis believe not only that their way is that of Muhammad himself, but also that Sufism is really a timeless path known to the wise in all generations.”
pre trans fallacy
Pre-Trans Fallacy
  • This is a classic “pre-trans fallacy” where a trans-rational comment is understood on a pre-rational level.
  • Many of the great saints of all of the world’s religions have been persecuted & condemned, even killed before they are later recognized as saints.
the spread of islam
The Spread of Islam
  • By the last quarter of the twentieth century this situations changed dramatically. Rarely since the stunning spread of Islam in its 1st century have the fortunes of a religion changed so remarkably in so short a time.
a popular source of support
A Popular Source of Support
  • By having a strong belief system, strict rules and laws, and a strong emphasis on community, Islam proves to be a popular source of support for many people who find the rapid changes of modern life disconcerting and troubling.
  • The Reformation helped wrench Europe into new stages of historical development. What Islam will generate remains to be seen.
victims of the western world
“Victims of the Western World”
  • At the very least, Muslims look at the 100 million people killed in wars during the 20th century as being primarily the victims of the Western world, not Islam.
acceptable alternatives
Acceptable Alternatives
  • At least we can disagree with some perspective on what needs these movements serve. In doing this, we may be able to provide more acceptable alternatives that seek to meet these same needs for structure, stability, and safety.
  • Popular images of people become engrained in human consciousness, & begin to influence the way we think about others.
  • Freedom doesn’t mean that one has to give up his or her faith. It just means that one isn’t forced by law to attend services, etc.
a life of service
A Life of Service
  • The mystics of all traditions agree that what’s important is living a life transformed by the love & presence of God. Such a life is a life lived in service to others.
what makes a fanatic
What Makes a Fanatic?
  • Part of what makes people fanatical is an extreme devotion to a certain literal understanding of a teaching or revelation.
a gross distortion
A Gross Distortion
  • It’s important to know that the vast majority of Muslim people reject these fanatical teachings about suicide bombers & see it as a gross distortion of the Qur’an.
not insurmountable
Not Insurmountable
  • Does that mean the temptations are more difficult? Possibly. But that doesn’t meant they are insurmountable.
  • All the religions we’ve studied, except the Early Religions, spring out of the last few 1000 years, when the world has been patriarchal.
in favor of choices and rights
In Favor of Choices and Rights
  • Muhammad himself “pronounced in favor of choice & rights for women, a position that flew in the face of the prevailing abuse of women in tribal society of his time & place.”
may 19 1919 less than 100 years ago
May 19, 1919Less Than 100 Years Ago!!
  • We tend to forget that women were allowed to vote less than a hundred years ago in the modern United States.
  • As we have seen, when it comes to written text, they each must be interpreted. The interpretation often says as much about the development of the interpreter as it does about the text.
women count
Women Count
  • If people (and thus women) count to God, then they have some inherent value that must be recognized by the community.
a cloud of rationalization
A Cloud of Rationalization
  • The human ability to rationalize away the great ideals of the religions is one way we have delayed living up to them for hundreds of years.
a compromise
A Compromise
  • The government found a compromise, in that it respects the rights of adults to make up their own mind, but not to decide for children.
spiritual or political
Spiritual or Political
  • If the issue is not spiritual but political, then many women who want to stay in their religion demand that changes be made, so that what is of spiritual value is guarded, but what is of a bygone era & harmful to the dignity of women be changed.
  • Today, economic considerations are influencing changes in many Islamic countries. Women have moved out of the home & into the workplace.
challenging the roles of women
Challenging the Roles of Women
  • Much of the modern scholarship challenging the roles of women in Islam are coming from women who are doing their homework and asking the critical questions about Muhammad, the Qur’an and early Islamic history.
protection of women
“Protection” of Women
  • We see the “protection” of women as something ordained by God forever, rather than a comment on what was relevant at the time.
importance of understanding
Importance of Understanding
  • If we are to continue to live & work together in peace in this country, then it will be important for us to understand some general points about Islam.
a world religion
A World Religion
  • More importantly, after centuries of repression, Islam is on its way back as a world religion, full of new life & many changes that make it a power and spirituality to be reckoned with in no uncertain terms. “This resurgent Islam is a major force in the world today.”
not in the original teachings
Not in the Original Teachings
  • We saw that most of the negativity doesn’t lie within the original teachings themselves, but in the way they are put (or not put) into practice.
a balanced view
A Balanced View
  • We only gain a balanced view by talking to as many people and reading as much as we can.