Blog 12 (Week of 4/13)

Although we did not have class this week, I spend some time reflecting on the information we learned last class. A good part of the class was spent on discussing ayahs of the second surah that were related to character. For example, one ayah that really stood out to me was Ayah 168. In the translation, it reads, “People, eat what is good and lawful from the earth, and do not follow Satan’s footsteps, for he is your sworn enemy.”  This does not refer to the consumption of food; rather, it is referring to what people should and should not take in throughout their everyday lives (In this case, people should take in the good and lawful things that are provided to them by God, and they should not take in anything that Satan presents before them). An important aspect of character is pointed out here- Everything in this world has value, and can therefore impact us and build our character in a certain way. An important point to remember about this is that we are in control of what we take in. Therefore, we must pay attention to what we hear and what we take in, otherwise we will have to suffer the consequences if we listen to the wrong things. I think this is something that can definitely be applied to our lives out of the context of religion. There are so many people and experiences in our lives that can influence us in good and bad ways. It is up to us to decide what we want to listen and how we’re going to respond to the things we hear and the situations we are placed in. If an individual happens to choose the wrong path, they will have to deal with the consequences of that choice.

In response to Cappucino3, Mahu01, and several others that talked about the tests of God, I really like what was mentioned about God’s test of ease and feelings of gratefulness associated with that. When I am experiencing several good things in my life, I remind myself to be humble and grateful for the opportunities I am presented with. Although I do thank and pray to God for these moments in my life, I find myself turning and praying to God more often when I am faced with times of struggle and difficulty. During the moments of ease, I feel that God is with me and helping me with everything that is happening in my life. On the other hand, I tend to feel alone during moments of adversity, and this is why I think I pray to God more often in this moment. I need to be reminded that he is still there. I remind myself that instead of celebrating with me, he is testing me with things he knows I can handle, and therefore I should have faith and try my best to persevere through the tough times.

The Struggle is real..

I liked the paradigm that Professor explained today in class of how the world operates from a theological perspective. Everything you experience in this world is one or more of the four types of tests, and the Day of Judgement is when you receive the results of these tests. Some of the tests that God can throw at an individual throughout life are: being hit with loss and/or difficulty, ease, when you have to make decisions/choices. The way to deal with these problems are through persevering and putting your trust in God; gratitude is where the Children of Israel lacked and that eventually led to their destruction. We also learned about fasting and how that leads to self control which results in one incorporating better characteristics into their personality and character. Another example of an event or lifestyle and how it relates to character are pilgrimages. Pilgrimages are usually difficult and require lots of energy, time, effort, and patience, and through this process you are able to incorporate positive characteristics into your character. Most pilgrimages also have strict rules that lead to one becoming more self-disciplined and controlled just as fasting does.

In response to @Minnimonmon I agree with how Professor Mozaffar commented on how the goal of this life is to live a harmonious life and this can be accomplished through achieving justice. Without justice there is no harmony and the world has an increase in chaos because not everyone is being treated fairly. I agree that because of the mention of societal laws this leads to some order, because there are guidelines and principles set into society on how one or a situation should be treated or not.

April 8, Reflection

In class, we learned about the overarching lesson in Surah 2. First, we talked about the story of Abraham and Family, the story of Mohammed, the story of the direction of prayer (Ka’bah) and also the core issue- struggles. Another word for “struggle” is test and in the Islamic paradigm, there are 4 types of tests: obedience, loss and difficulty, ease and difficult choices. Not only that, we learned a few Arabic words such as Bala’ which means, to be tested, Ibtila- to be tested really hard, Jihad means to fight and Ijtihad means to make scholarly discourse because in Islam, scholarly discourse is thought to be harder than an actual fight. Besides, we touched on the importance of character and Surah 2 is a manual on transformation of characters. The causes of bad character are the causes of bad belief because a character is reflected from a person’s heart. We often occupy ourselves with bad thoughts and forget to look on the bright side and this negativity will affect our characters because belief is in your heart and heart affects character and character goes back to affect the belief.

In response to MINNIMONMON about fasting, I agree that “In giving up things we normally take for granted for no apparent reason, it builds discipline and self-control.” Also, I think my fasting we learned to appreciate what we are given because we are so used to being spoon fed with everything. We have all the comfort ever since we were born due to the era we were born in compared to the era our grandparents or parents were from where they suffered financially and also health-wise. Fasting is also a reminder for us to be grateful to God and also to our parents who provide us with comfort so that we can focus on our studies or other priorities. Besides, it strengthen our discipline so that we can resist from vice temptation that might distract us from the important things that we should be accomplishing in life.

Blog #11

Last week we talked about the different kinds of test in the Islamic paradigm and character. We discussed that there are four different types of tests: obedience, loss/difficulty, ease, and difficult choices. When then shifted into a discussion of the different sections in Surah 2 that deal with character. The ayahs specifically dealing with character mention signs, establishing a harmonious world, justice, food, crime & punishment, and inheritance. I found the discussion about justice to be very interesting. Prof. Mozaffar suggested that the goal of life in the Islamic paradigm is to establish a life that is in harmony with a harmonious world, and that establishing justice is a means of doing so. This makes sense when you think about a world lack of justice. When there is no justice, the world can lose harmony altogether and fall into chaos. No one respects one another’s rights and conflicts are not resolved in a just way. I suppose this is why the Qur’an mentions so many societal laws. In order to maintain harmony, the religious system should provide a practical means of establishing justice.

In response to , I grew up in a tradition that involves fasting, but I too never really learned to appreciate it until I understand why I fasted. In the end, it is simply obedience to God, but the benefits are worth it. In giving up things we normally take for granted for no apparent reason, it builds discipline and self-control. In growing comfortable with giving up food, we grow to understand the feeling of giving up other things for the sake of God, which in turn can lead to selflessness and better character, among other things.

4/8

This week in class we discussed the many struggles and tests that everyone faces in this world and how everything that one faces is a test. We learned about the 4 different types of test. A test of obedience is passed when the believer seeks to obey. I thought it was interesting how passing this test doesn’t necessarily mean to obey, as demonstrated by the story of Prophet Ibrahim. Another type of test is that of loss and difficulty. This test is passed by perseverance without  breaking the rules of the Divine. The third test is that of ease and comfort. In times of ease, one must remember to remain grateful to God. The final test is the test of difficult choices. During these times, we must learn to rely on God. I found this week’s lesson very informative and interesting. I learned so much from the topics we discussed. Most importantly, it reminded me that everything we face in this life is a test, whether we realize it or not.

In response to , I also agree that we learned a lot this week about character. It was interesting to see all the different aspects in Surah 2 that help a Muslim improve his character. We learned about fasting, inheritance, superstition, and fighting, and how one acts in these instances is a way of seeing one’s character . I liked your comment about trying to view every event in your life as a test. I think that in the moment, when I am feeling stressed, worried, or hopeless, I oftentimes forget to remember that these are all tests. But once I remember to take a step back and look at a dilemma as a test, I realize that all I need to do is put my trust in God and do what I can. I agree that it also isn’t out of fear, but it actually really comforts me and puts me at ease during a stressful situation.

Class 4/8

This week in class we discussed the four types of tests that humans are put through according to the Qur’an. I learned a lot about Islam this week as I think this week’s lecture really focused on overarching goals prescribed to Muslims. Much of our lecture focused on character- specifically, what constitutes good character. I found it fascinating to learn about how forgiveness is encouraged and expected for those who have been wronged. I also gained a new sense of appreciation for people of all religions who fast. I never knew it was about self control and I can see how that directly relates to good character.

In response to AP23, I agree that the tests we are put through completely define our lives. During the discussion in class, I began thinking about all the highs and lows of my own life and attempted to categorize them within one of the four tests. I think that, had I looked at each situation as a test, and especially if I had thought about what God’s reaction might have been, I likely would have behaved differently. I don’t necessarily think I would have behaved differently out of guilt or fear, but I would have felt love from God- I would have felt that he cared enough about me to give me an opportunity to do his will.

Blog #11

This week in class we continued our analysis of surah two in particular focusing on ayahs 164-214 and we discussed the four different types of tests. One of those tests is the test of obedience and once an individual passes it they always seek to obey. Another test is to be hit by a loss and in order to pass it, you are not supposed to break any rules during this difficult time and are persevere through the difficulties. Another test is the test of ease and one should respond with gratitude. The last test is when you have to make difficult choices this test encompasses all three of the tests together. In order to pass this test is to rely on God. It was interesting to look at a different perspective, that in this world, your whole life is essentially a test meaning that everything you experience is one or more of these tests. I had never looked at it in this way before. These ayahs that we discussed were about character. It is very important to be good people to be good muslims.

In response to mahuo1, I agree that when people’s lives are going exactly how they want it, people tend to fail the test of ease by failing to respond with gratitude. I agree that being grateful at all times shows good character.  I think at times it may be harder to pass the test of ease because you are not relying on God as much as if you were in a difficult situation, you would rely on God more to get you out of it. I thought it was interesting how pilgrimage impacts your character but it makes sense because the pilgrimage consists of all rituals which requires a lot of energy and patience. I also agree that it is fascinating that the Quran outlines how one should live their lives and it is very specific.