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Intro to Islam

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Waleed El-Ansary

on 11 August 2017

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Transcript of Intro to Islam

Ihsan
Virtue

Islam
Surrender

Iman
Faith

Fitra
Quran

Hadīth

right action

addresses body

Shari'ah
(Divine Law)
right thought

addresses mind

Islamic theology,
philosophy, science



right intention

addresses heart

Islamic mysticism which
deepens faith and
practice
Foundations
dīn
= religion
dayn
= debt (to God)

tawhīd
= Unity of God
content of
all
religion
wahada
= to be one, alone,
unique, unparalleled

Names of God:
al-Wāhid, al-Ahad
All other attributes flow
from this attribute
`
Sharī

ah
(Law) = “Five Pillars”

Doctrine

1.
Shahādah

Practice

2.
Salāt

3.
Sawm

4.
Zakāt

5.
Hajj
Time
– cosmic (not conventional)

Space
– nature itself is the sanctuary


Verily, we have placed for thee
the earth as a mosque
.”

mosque = mesquita (Spanish) =
masjid

masjid
= “place of prostration”

sujūd
= “prostration”

sajada
= “to prostrate”



First
Shahādah

(testimony of faith)

Lā ilāha illa’Llāh
– definition of religion

Other religions assert
tawhīd

Role of silence



Second
Shahādah

(testimony of faith)

Muhammadun rasūlu’Llāh
:

particularization of Islam

Muhammad:
hamada
= “to praise”

Rasul
:
risālah
= “message”
Doctrine of Prophecy

Nabī
:
nabba’a
= “to bring news”

124,000 prophets
Every
rasūl
is a
nabī,
but not every
nabī
is a
rasūl

No extra-territoriality to religion

Persona
= “face”

God's Face to world (
sifāt
)
is usually referred to in the masculine

Suprapersonal Essence (
dhāt
)
is often referred to in the feminine

Islam as theocentric, not logocentric

Christianity can be called “Christianity”

Islam should not be called “Muhammadanism”
(“Allahism” more appropriate)



Divine Names =
Asmā’ al-Husna

Names of Beauty (
Jamāl
)

Names of Majesty (
Jalāl
)

Power and Mercy

Lists of “Ninety-Nine Excellent Names” –
in principle infinite

Divine Names as “doors” opening to the understanding of the Divine Nature

Every human being related in a special way to a particular Divine Name




Islamic theology deals with the relation between:

Divine Essence (
al-dhāt
)

Divine Names and Qualities (
al-sifāt
)

Divine Acts (
al-af‘āl
)
Can we contemplate God?

Divine Essence (
al-dhāt
) cannot be “known”

“Meditate upon the Names of God, but not His Essence.” –
hadīth

Allāhu akbar
: “God is greater…”

Formula of
Supreme Transcendence



Divine Names in daily life

All important acts begin by the invocation of two Names

al-Rahmān
– the Infinitely Good

al-Rahīm
– the Ever-Merciful
Muslim names (‘
abd al
-______)

Litanies

Rosary

Islamic formulas in daily life

Bismillāh al-Rahmān al-Rahīm
In the Name of God, the Infinitely Good, Ever-Merciful

al-hamdulillāh
Praise be to God

Inshā’ Allāh
If God wills

mā shā’ Allāh
What God has willed
What is the Purpose of the
“Practical” Pillars?

Islamic anthropology and the Fall (
hubūt
)

Sin as forgetfulness of God (
ghaflah
)

Rites for remembrance of God (
dhikr
)
Place and Conditions of Prayer

House of worship is nature –
mosque created when human beings moved out of nature to sedentary, urban environments

Place of prayers not based on a particular sacred site

Conditions:
permission of owner of land
location ritually clean
directed to Mecca

Priestly function among all Muslims –
no sacerdotal class
Friday congregational prayers

Social cohesion

Other prayers
(eclipse, earthquake, drought)
“Religious tax” or “tithe”

zaka
= “to purify and make flourish”
2.5% of savings

Anything over this amount is charity (
sadaqa
)

Role of funds in traditional education
“Fasting”

Rite based on lunar (not solar) calendar

Abstention from all food and drink –
moral and spiritual conditions
(no evil thoughts, back-biting, lying, etc…)

End of month – special tax for
charity to the poor
“Pilgrimage”

Pilgrimage in Christianity and Islam

Hajj
to Mecca

Pilgrimage to Medina and other places

Hajj
is not “Muhammadan” but “Abrahamic”

Ka‘bah
originally built by Adam and reconstructed by Abraham

“Invisible” temple before the rise of Islam
Foundation of
Hajj

Prophet of Islam reconstituted
the rite of Abraham

Takes place during
dhu’l hijjah
= “month of
hajj


Rotates throughout the year

Economic conditions:
family is provided for during journey
no extreme poverty in neighborhood
(for later
hajj
)
Significance of
Hajj

Unique scale

Religious significance – forgiveness of sins

Social and intellectual consequences

al-‘umrah
= “the smaller
hajj


Other pilgrimages
Orthography

Allah
= God

lillah
= for God

lahu
= for Him

hu
= He/She

First and last
sounds of life
Is
jihād
a

6th pillar?

Objects of Faith

1. God

2. His angels

3. His books

4. His messengers

5. the Last Day

6. the measuring out, both its good and its evil
Transcendent

Immanent
Consequences of materialization of cosmos

Functions of angels in cosmos

Functions of angels with respect to people:

Revelation
Angel of death
After death in the grave
kutub

suhuf
Individual

World
(Heaven, Hell, Purgatory)
Ubiquitous in Islamic life –
no more central text

Central theophany in Islam –
Word made Book
(inlibriation)

Inerrantist view of Qur’ān
as verbatim Word of God

Everything about the Qur’ān is
sacred for Muslims –
sound, writing, book that is carried,
teachings

Sonoral Revelation
Background of Revelation

Prophet of Islam was
hanīf
=
“primordial monotheist”

Jabal al-Nūr

(“Mountain of Light”)
cave of Hirā’

Revelation through Gabriel

Prophet as
ummī
=
“unlettered”
Laylat al-Qadr

Night of Authority, Power, or Decree

“Recite: in the Name of thy Lord Who created, created man from a blood-clot. Recite: and your Lord is the Most Generous, Who taught by the pen — taught man what he did not know.”
(Sûrah 96:1-5)

Themes of the creation of man, the generosity of God, the Mercy from which creation comes, and knowledge, which is at the heart of the Islamic message, are all there at the very beginning.
Names of the
Qur’ān

al-Qur’ān
= “the Recitation”

al-Furqān
= “the Discernment”

Umm al-kitāb
= “Mother of the Book”

al-Hidāyah
= “the Guidance”

Dhikru’llāh
= “Remembrance of God”
Qur’ān

Not fully translatable

over 6,000 āyāt = “signs/symbols”
114 sūrah = “chapter”

verses divided into Meccan & Medinan
Meccan deal mostly with ihsān & īmān
Medinan also deal with islām
Compilation of the
Qur’ān


Role of oral tradition

Uthmān – the 3rd Caliph

Levels of meaning –
Qur’ān
as poetic, but not just poetry (
shi‘r
)

Qur’ān

Divine Presence

Book of Knowledge

Book of Ethics and Law

Prophet of Islam

Biographies of Muhammad

Two types of prophets:
those who withdraw from the world, and those who participate in and integrate the world

Layers of misunderstanding from conflating the two

Muhammad 570 - 632 A.D.

“Seal of the [124,000] Prophets”

40 as age of prophecy – 610 A.D.

Mecca – commercial and religious center of Arabia

Arab paganism, Abrahamic monotheism
(non-Christian, non-Jewish, Arab followers of monotheism =
hanīf
)

Background

Born into tribe of Quraysh, most powerful of Mecca

Orphan – cared for by Abu Tālib

Trusted as youth –

resolution of the sacred stone

Marriage to Khadījah

First revelation
Growth of Islamic Community in Mecca

Saintly figures (third of night in prayer)

Migration to Abyssinia and conversion of ‘Umar

Bribes and political power offered
Mi‘rāj

model of all Islamic spiritual realization
source of fundamental rite of prayer
body’s participation in final destiny

Hijrah

Foundation of Islamic calendar
al-Ansār
Early battles
Hadīth
literature

Collections and chains of transmission

114,000 saw the Prophet
1,800 narrated a hadīth
900 narrated more than one

sunnah
= “wonts, tradition”
of the Prophet

Hadīth qudsī
Divine Law

Sharī‘ah
= “way, path, road”

The concrete embodiment of the Will of God for Muslims,
i.e. “the path to God”

Fiqh
is our understanding of the
Sharī‘ah
Philosophy of Divine Law

Freedom comes from doing God’s Will, not doing whatever we want
(imprisonment to our egos)

Divine Law protects us from falling into pitfalls we do not see,
a Divine Mercy

Sharī‘ah
is both immutable and growing like a tree –
the branches are always related to the principle,
the structure of the tree
Principles of
Shari'ah

Qur'an

Hadith

Ijtihad
ijma'
qiyas
maslahah



Schools of Law (
Madhahib
)

Hanafi

Maliki

Shafi'i

Hanbali

Ja'fari
Gender and the
Sharī'ah

Hijab

Inheritance

Witness
'Ibadat
and
Mu'amalat

Political

Social

Economic
Islamic Esoterism

Tarīqah
= "narrow path"

To want to have a vision of God here and now

Condition is
"dying of self"
Image of Circle

Sharī'ah
is the circumference

Tarīqah
is the ray

Center symbolizes Divine Truth =
haqīqah
Sufism

<
sûf
= wool,
safa
= purity?

_____________________

founded on the
Shari'ah
Doctrine and Method of Sufism

Shahādatayn
Dhikr

Shaykh
= Master (“old man”)
faqīr
= disciple (“poor one”)

Emphasis on Love and Knowledge
(combined, not separate)
Spiritual Orders

Qadari

Rifa'i

Shadhili

Mawlawi

Naqshbandi

Ni'matullahi

Chisti


Kalam
(theology)

Falsafa
(philosophy)

Doctrinal Sufism
Four Phases of
Falsafa

1.
Mashsha'i
philosophy (9th - 11th centuries)

2.
Kalam
critique (11th - 12th centuries)

3. School of Illumination (13th - 16th centuries)

4. Grand Synthesis (17th century - present)

Mu'tazilites vs. Ash'arites on:

1a. Divine Names and Attributes

tanzih tashbih
Mu'tazilite

Ash'arite
Political Philosophy

Spiritual authority and temporal power united

Caliph and 'Ulema

Caliph, Sultan, and 'Ulema

Multiple caliphs

Nation State
Sunni and Shi'ite Differences

Historical Background

Criteria for Caliph

Mahdi
Responses to Colonization

Modernist

Fundamentalist

Messianic

Traditionalist


Intersection of all three dimensions is
the essence of Islam, recovering
our primordial nature (
fitra
)
Jihad
is derived from the root
ja - ha - da,
which means to struggle for the sake of God

What are the different meanings of this?
- to struggle against one's carnal soul
- to do God's will in one's everyday life
- to do good in society
- just war



What are the Quranic applications?
- applies to the natural, supernatural, and
social orders, referring to earthquakes, the
Day of Judgment, and those who bring
commotion to society, respectively
- applies to the shaking of the hearts, which
may be executed either by action or words,
suggesting different forms of terrorism
- connotes cowardice, deceit, and
betrayal
-
legal sanction is execution

Necessary
Political Conditions?


Yes No

Necessary
Yes
al-Azhar Bush
Intellectual
Conditions?
No
bin Laden Falwell


How Can
Jihad
Be Inverted Into
Irjaf
?
Jihad
is
not
a "6th pillar, but within
all
the pillars, since all the rites require tremendous exertion and difficulty.

Human life is a constant effort.

The central image of Christianity is peace
(Christ as "Prince of Peace"), which for Islam
is the result of exertion: neither religion can
exist without both elements.


Under what conditions is war just?
1) borderlands of Islam are threatened
2) Muslims are being killed somewhere
3) Islam itself is being threatened in the
Islamic world

Therefore, not all
jihad
is war,
and not all war is
jihad
.

Labeling terrorism as
jihad

validates terrorists' claims to
legitimacy on one hand,
and implies the war against
terrorism is a war against Islam
on the other.

Is the quest for world peace by a civilization that is at war with itself and with the world of nature meaningless? See "Body Count: A Quantitative Review of Political Violence Across World Civilizations"
The correct Quranic term for terrorism is
irjaf
, which is dervided from the root
ra - ja - fa
and means to quake, tremble, be in violent
convulsions, or to shake. (33:60)



Transcendence
Yes

No
Immanence
Yes
Theism Pantheism

No
Deism Atheism
Miraculous Structure of Roots

M - L - K

M
a
l
a
k
a = "to own"
L
a
k
a
m
a = "to hit"
K
a
m
u
l
a = "to perfect"

What do they all have in common?
Power, Strength

All possible virtues contained in the founder of a religion

Hadith
are a
part
of the
sunnah
,
but do not
exhaust
the
sunnah

Transhistorical nature of
events and
sunnah
in
life of the Prophet


Hadīth
literature

Collections and chains of transmission

114,000 saw the Prophet
1,800 narrated a hadīth
900 narrated more than one

sunnah
= “wonts, tradition”
of the Prophet

Hadīth qudsī
God speaks in the first person

Profound spiritual and intellectual questions

Answers those seeking the deepest meanings of human life

Necessary for a religious civilization to survive

Basis of Islamic spiritual life
Mu'tazilites vs. Ash'arites:

2a. Can we know good and evil objectively, or only through Divine command?



objective

Divine
intelligence

command
Mu'tazilites Ash'arites
Mu'tazilites vs. Ash'arites on:

5. Personally command good and prohibit evil

heavy job of
emphasis authorities
Mu'tazilites Ash'arites
Major
Mashsha'i
Philosophers

al-Kindi

al-Farabi

Ibn Sina

Ibn Rushd
Phase II
Theological Critique of
Mashsha'i
Philosophy

al-Ghazzali

Critique of Ibn Sina:
God's knowledge of particulars
Creation of the world ex nihilo
Bodily resurrection

Ibn Rushd's response and
Ghazzali's effect on
Islamic philosophy
Phase III
God's Knowledge of Particulars
and Steps to Rapprochement

Suhrawardi and the School
of Illumination

Hikmat al-Ishraq

Ibn 'Arabi and doctrinal Sufism

Nasir al-Din Tusi the revival
of the school of Ibn Sina,
and Shi'ite
kalam

Ibn Turkah Isfahani,
ishraqi
and
mashsha'i

thought, Ibn Arabi, and integration


Phase IV
Final Philosophical Problems Resolved

Mir Damad on
hierarchy of time
in resolving the
debate on the
creation of the world

Mulla Sadra on
philosophical proof
of bodily resurrection -
contemporary of
Descartes

Grand synthesis of
mashsha'i
and
ishraqi
thought,
doctrinal Sufism,
and
kalam
Origins of Islamic Art

Western view of Islamic art

Islamic art as aniconic in contrast to sacred art in Christianity and many other religions

Three central sacred arts of Islam are rooted in the
Qur'an
as the Word of God
Mu'tazilites vs. Ash'arites on:

2b. Free-will vs. Predestintion

free-will

predestination
Mu'tazilites Ash'arites



Mu'tazilites vs. Ash'arites on:

1b. Created vs. Uncreated Nature of Qur'an

created uncreated
Mu'tazilite

Ash'arite
Mu'tazilites vs. Ash'arites on:

3. God's Promises and Threats

totally binding

tempered by mercy
Mu'tazilites Ash'arites


4. Fate of believing sinners

hell

heaven possible
Mu'tazilites Ash'arites


Introduction to
Falsafa

Kalam
starts with revelation as given,
falsafa
starts with intelligence to reach the tenets of the faith

Intellect is a sacred instrument related to the
instrument of Revelation

Falsafa
is not simply "Aristotle in Arabic"

Falsafa
concerned with the Unity of the Divine Principle, how to explain the world in the light of the unity of God, prophecy as a mode of knowledge, and other Islamic themes

Islamic philosophy as "prophetic philosophy,"
not "Arabic philosophy"

Why did Muslims translate these philosophical texts into Arabic?

Shahadah
is a statement about the nature of reality - soteriological function of knowledge in Islam

Last implies synthesis

Pre-Islamic revelations originally based on
tawhid

Every philosophy that confirmed the Unity
of the Creator was "Islamic"
Clearing the Ground of Misconceptions

Islamic philosophy is a chapter in the history of Western philosophy in addition to being integral to Islamic thought

Renaissance view of Islamic philosophy as merely a bridge between Greek philosophy and the West is false

Islamic philosophy did not end when its influence on Western philosophy ended


Phase I

Standard narrative of Greece/Athens to Rome to Washington, D.C. ("the second Rome") is false

Transfer of centers of learning and texts from:
Athens (5th century BC)
Alexandria (3rd century BC)
Jundishapur (3rd century AD)
Baghdad (8th century AD)
Cordoba (11th century AD)
What Are the Unifying Principles of Islamic Art?

Islamic arts give form to the inner reality,
haqiqah
, of revelation

Islamic art is not naturalistic, it does not imitate the outward forms of nature, but reflects their spiritual essence

In the traditional Islamic world, there is no difference between what in the West are classified as arts and crafts
Islamic Music

Islamic Poetry

Islamic Painting
Islamic Science

Is Islamic science Islamic ethics plus modern science?

Qur'an
holds religion and science together

Islam's integration of pre-Islamic sciences

Impact on Western science

Implications for quantum mechanics and
modern science




Definition of Science

science <
scire
= "to know"

Biology
Astronomy
Theology
"Angelology"

Modern Science
=
an
empirical
(or sensory) means of knowing the
material
(or physical) world

To be a modern scientist is to assume (at least while you're on the job) that the only way to know anything truly is by using your physical senses, and therefore that the only thing you can
really
know is matter - even supposing something else might exist.

But this is in stark contrast with...
The Islamic Perspective


The material world - the world of computers, kumquats, and koala bears - is only a tiny fragment of a much vaster Reality, a Reality you can come to know by studying the doctrines and following the practices of Islam.
"Science" in Other Languages

'Ilm
(Arabic)

Wissenschaft
(German)

Science
(French)
Science =
organized knowledge

Scientism = claim that modern science (empirical means of knowing the material world) has a
monopoly
on science

Science is
not
scientism - but what's wrong with scientism?
It's impossible to know whether

The only way to know anything truly is by using your physical senses

by using your physical senses.
Scientism isn't science, it's bad philosophy

Religion vs. Scientism (not Science)

In any conversation between religion and science, philosophy is a "silent third partner"
Umm al-Kitab
(
umm
=mother)
origin, root, foundation, basis

God has revealed two Qur'ans

al-Qur'an al-tadwini
(book)
al-Qur'an al-takwini
(cosmos)


Ayah
= sign, portent, symbol




"We shall show them Our signs upon the horizons and within themselves till it becomes clear to them that this is the truth." (41:53)

Hierarchy of knowledge given the qualitative and quantitative aspect of
all creation


"The aim of all the Islamic sciences... is to show the unity and interrelatedness of all that exists, so that, in contemplating the unity of the cosmos, man may be led to the unity of the Divine Principle, of which the unity of Nature is the image."

Seyyed Hossein Nasr
Science and Civilization in Islam

Numbers as
ayat Allah

1 is
wahid
in Arabic and is the principle of all numbers

Allah
is
al-Wahid

(The One) and the Creator of all things

Everything comes from
Allah
,
al-Wahid
, and returns to Him
Any form of knowledge was determined not by its language or cultural origins, but by its metaphysical context and direction
Genesis of Islamic Science

Islam appears in the full light of history (7th century AD)

Oldest scientific traditions have already developed
quite a bit

Islam expands into areas where these traditions have been active for a very
long time
1
x
1=
1
11
x
11=1
2
1
111
x
111=12
3
21
1111
x
1111=123
4
321
11111
x
11111=1234
5
4321
111111
x
111111=12345
6
54321
1111111
x
1111111=123456
7
654321
11111111
x
11111111=1234567
8
7654321
111111111
x
11111111=12345678
9
87654321

Zero corresponds to the point geometrically,
"the no-thing which produces everything"
(point, line, plane)

The mathematical zero comes out of the metaphysical understanding of zero

1 is the principle of all numbers, but 0 is above the series of numbers, like the Essence of God above creation (
dhat Allah, al-Ahad
) - God as Creator corresponds to 1
(
al-Wahid
)


The Supreme Principle appears to add nothing, subtract nothing from creation
(like adding and subtracting 0)...

but is in Itself Infinite
(cannot divide anything by 0 without exploding)...

and reduces everything to nothing
(when we multiply by 0,
it becomes 0)...

but this "no-thing" gives us "everything"
(adding 0s to a $10 bill)
Metaphysical Meaning of Two

Divine Names of Majesty (
Jalal
) and Beauty (
Jamal
)

God as both Absolute and Infinite

Principle of masculinity and femininity in the human state (
'ala suratihi
)

God therefore creates things in pairs (
azwajan
)

Father and Mother
Metaphysical Meaning of Three

Father, Mother, Child

Return to unity in multiplicity

"The triad leads to a new integration that does not negate the duality preceding it but rather, overcomes it, just as the child is a binding element that unites the male and female parents."

Annemarie Schimmel,

The Mystery of Numbers
The Quadrivium and the
Liberal Arts

Arithmetic

(number outside of time and space)

Geometry
(number in space)

Music
(number in time)

Astronomy

(number in time and space)

Why "liberal"?
Illumination of the intellect leading to knowledge and freedom

Qualitative dimension of numbers
is the key to sacred geometry, music, and astronomy
that liberates
Path of Venus Around the Earth
Path of Mercury
Around the Earth
Path of Mars Around the Earth


Cosmos = order,
beauty,
embroidery

"God's art"

Includes everything below the Divine Order


Cosmology and Symbolism

The symbolic links levels of reality together

The diabolic denies the link between
levels of reality

Symbolism is a language of religion and
sacred science (
ayat Allah
)

North/Pole Star
Nasir al-Din Tusi and Copernicus

First international observatory in Maraghah

Orthodox priests in Maraghah return to Krakow where Copernicus introduces the heliocentric model

Geocentric model and heliocentric models are equally valid

Exoteric and esoteric spiritual
significance of the models

What has quantum mechanics done to scientism?

Breakdown of "classical" physics
(Newtonian mechanics)

Wolfgang Smith's
The Quantum Enigma:
Finding the Hidden Key
,
limit theorems, and the need for "vertical causality" in science

Ibn Sina, Umar Khayyam, Nasir al-Din Tusi, and Mulla Sadra with non-reductive philosophies of nature that resolve quantum paradox on one hand and integrate the findings of physics into higher orders of
knowledge on the other


Tawhid
and the Classification of the Sciences

Aristotle - 1st teacher

al-Farabi - 2nd teacher

Mir Damad - 3rd teacher

4th teacher ?
Ibn Sina and Galileo

Critique of Aristotle's theory of motion based on inertia

Reduction of quality to quantity is a philosophical assumption, or scientism,
not science

Ibn al-Haytham on optics and telescope for Galileo's observations

"Galileo Affair"

Why is X the variable
for the unknown?

Algebra and Mathematics

Astronomy

Geology and Geography

Medicine

Physics
Islamic epistemology

Intellect

Goal of knowledge
Divine Order
(Metacosm)






Human

al-Qur'an al-takwini

World
(microcosm) (macrocosm)
Implications

Microcosm and macrocosm are not the roots of each other (we are "theomorphic" beings reflecting Divine Names and Qualities, made '
ala suratihi
)

There's a correspondence between the microcosm and macrocosm, which is why we can know the cosmos
(etymology of "world")
Full transcript