Islam 101

Session 1: Introduction, Sacrifice, and Abraham

Part one of Adam’s discussion on Islam.

Some books for your reading pleasure:

No god but God – Reza Aslan

The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity – Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Islam: Religion, History, and Civilization – S. H. Nasr

In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad – Tariq Ramadan

Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation – T. Ramadan

Muhammad – Karen Armstrong

Session 2: Jahiliyah

Adam discusses pre-Islamic Arabia.

For information on henotheism, see Rez Aslan’s No god but God” pages 8 and 40.

Session 3: Muhammad and Khadija: A Love Story

In pre-Islamic Arabia their was no real belief in God’s interactions with us. The belief was that fate was what controlled everything. If a person was an orphan or poor it was their fate to be poor their was no influence or help from God. It’s not until Muhammad goes on a business venture with a business woman named Khadija.

Session 4: The Nature of the Qur’an

Understanding the nature of the Qur’an is important for Christians to do having this deep understanding allows Christians to be able relate to Muslims easier. Adam Ericksen and the Raven Foundation explore the importance of understanding the nature of the Qur’an. For Christians to be able to understand the true nature of the Qur’an. Many times Christians try to place Muhammad as the word of God made flesh just as the Christians believe Jesus to be the word of God made flesh. The issue with this is that Muhammad is simply the prophet (the primary and most important prophet) but the Qur’an the words that Muhammad wrote.

Session 5: Tawhid, the Oneness of God

When Islam came to the Arabian Peninsula the belief system was that of Henotheism. Henotheism means that their is a hierarchy within the spiritual world and within this hierarchy God is located at the top with many different intermediaries that worked with humanity. These different intermediaries caused for their to be a a great deal of intertribal warfare. Adam Ericksen and the Raven Foundation explore Tawhid and how it came to the Arabian Peninsula at the same time as Islam came to the Peninsula. Tawhid means that their is a oneness with God. This is expressed throughout the Qur’an.

Session 6: The Archaic Sacred and the Tawhid of Being Human

In Mimetic Theory there is a discussion is Islam returning all cultures to the Archaic Sacred. Archaic Sacred is what creates the first cultures. In the end these cultures come together and decide that one group or person becomes the scapegoat for society. After choosing one person or group as the scapegoat their is a spontaneous act of violence against the scapegoat. It is through these actions that societies form religions and the basis for many of the beliefs that religion expresses. Adam Ericksen and the Raven Foundation work to bring these feelings and how we can fight against being taken over to see Islam as our world’s scapegoat.

Session 7: The Qur’an and Failure

Adam Ericksen and the Raven Foundation explore the notion of failure and limitation in the Qur’an and how it applies to all other religious texts.

Session 8: Islam and Violence

OK. I forgot the mimetic theory part. The theory states that as social creatures, humans influence one another in powerful ways. We mediate reality to one another, and we start living out that “reality.” In other words, we project images upon one another, and we begin to live out those images. The more we mediate a “violent reality” reality, or project violence upon Muslims and say Islam is inherently violent the more many Muslims will act out that image of violence. When we do this, we have an enemy of our own making.

Session 9: My Experience

Adam Ericksen of the Raven Foundation talks about his experiences with Islam. With the underlying issue being the construction of the Islamic Cultural Center in New York City. Adam tells stories ranging from his experiences in the Peace Corps.Adam describes his experience with Islam and Muslims in Bangladesh. When Muslims refer to their duty and how they must achieve their duty. When Muslims refer to this it is the same way that Christians refer to do things because of love.

Session 10: Ramadan

Adam discusses the importance of Ramadan. Ramadan critiques the popular misunderstanding that the God of Islam is a God of power, might, and conquest. Ramadan claims that the God of Islam is the God who cares about the poor, hungry, and marginalized of culture. Muhammad critiqued the pre-Islamic Arabian view that Fate was in control of life. The Jahaliyya, or Age of Ignorance, believe fate controlled who was rich and powerful and who was poor and marginalized. There was little incentive for the rich to care for the poor. Muhammad challenged this view, and fasting during the month of Ramadan forces Muslims to identify with and care for the poor, weak, and hungry.