Sunday, October 31, 2010

Islam and Jihad

Here is a link to an electronic version of qu'ran with a syntax searching engine. I figure that this is a good position to start if your inquisitive nature wishes to delve into the Islamic text for verification or refutation of your viewpoints.

I want to first say that I found many of the links I present below from wikipedia. Instead of citing to wikipedia though, I wanted to verify the veracity of the articles citations. I found that the cites used were in fact good ones.
This is a general site, with menus branching off to various other places. The other cites seem to be as legitimate.

Some interesting facts about Islam and terrorism, as well as, the meaning behind the word "jihad."

Jihad in it's literal meaning is to struggle. As taught in the Quran, jihad more commonly means a battle between oneself and against others. The jihad against others only against those who first attack Muslims. However, when the word is used to describe actions against third parties, jihad still requires that the battle cause the least possible amount of damage to life and property.

Islam distinguishes four ways by which the duty of jihad can be fulfilled: by the heart, the tongue, the hand, and the sword. The first consists in a spiritual purification of one’s own heart by doing battle with the devil and overcoming his inducements to evil. The propagation of Islam through the tongue and hand is accomplished in large measure by supporting what is right and correcting what is wrong. The fourth way to fulfill one’s duty is to wage war physically against unbelievers and enemies of the Islamic faith. Those who professed belief in a divine revelation—Christians and Jews in particular—were given special consideration. They could either embrace Islam or at least submit themselves to Islamic rule and pay a poll and land tax. If both options were rejected, jihad was declared.

Modern Islam places special emphasis on waging war with one’s inner self. It sanctions war with other nations only as a defensive measure when the faith is in danger.

The Qu'ran seeks to encourage and promote peace. Violent actions undertaken are by Mullā to interpret the Qu'ran in a way largely inconsistent with its plain meaning and the way a majority of Mullā's interpret and encourage the proliferation of its meaning.

The tradition prevalent among the Muslims of attacking the people of other religions, which they call Jihād, is not Jihād of the Divine religious Law (Islāmic Sharī‘ah). Rather, it is a grievous sin and a violation of the clear instructions of God and His prophet.

The correlation for Jihad and the Christian bible can be found in:
Luke 13:22-24,
the Bible says about Jesus Christ, “And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying towards Jerusalem; and
(Philippians 1: 27)
That ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel.
(Timothy, 1:18)
This charge I commit onto you … fight a good fight; holding faith, and a good conscience.
There are scholars of Islam who credit other scholar of Islam with being gravely mistaken in understanding the issue of Jihad, and considered the unjustified killing of human beings by sword a religious duty. These people, these Scholars write, because of the distortion of their hearts, wrongly interpreting some of the Mutashabihat (complex and multifaceted) verses of the Holy Qur’an equated Islamic Jihad to rebellion, and associated self-concocted imprudent beliefs to Islam.

Many peaceful Islamic scholars credit the extreme form of Islam to poverty and systematic economic injustice, much of it stemming from national imperialism surrounding the United States agenda and politics with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. These Islamic followers that contend violence and terror is the route to serving the Prophet have their ideas perpetuated by the condemnation of their entire religion, the continued occupation of Islamic countries, and the general move toward resource depletion by the leaders of Islamic counties or other countries. The disconnect rest with the lack of humanitarian resources directed toward the people living in these countries and not simply the governmental establishment.

Robert Paper is an American political scientist known for his work on international security affairs, especially the coercive strategies of air power and the rationale of suicide terrorism. He has studied every suicide terrorist attack around the world from 1980 to early 2004. More than half of all suicide attacks were carried out by secular groups and individuals. He writes that more than 95 per cent of all suicide terrorist attacks around the world have in common is not religion, but a specific political goal to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland or prize greatly.

Although terrorist leaders may harbour other goals, history shows that the presence of foreign combat forces is the principal recruiting tool used by terrorist leaders to mobilise suicide terrorists to kill us.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Why are liberals so afraid of religion's influence in politics?

After Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally a few months ago, Jon Stewart is rallying "to Restore Sanity" in DC this weekend. A friend posed these questions to me:

Are "reason" and "sanity" the opposite of religion?
Is taking religion out of the political debate the answer for restoring reason?
Or do we need more faith?

This Washington Post article offers some surprising answers and insights:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

This article refers to another blog posted earlier about whether courts should apply Sharia law in certain

Sharia Law

This site explains the history of Sharia law and the current status.

CBS report on Sharia Law

Here is a link to a CBS story on America's reaction to Sharia law that might be interesting.

Sharia law

Here is a quick overview of Sharia law and how it interacts with foriegn governments.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gay Bishop says Religion is Killing Teens

An assertion that religion, and it's rejection of homosexuality, plays a huge role in the recent wake of teen suicides that have swept the nation. This article has some of the most disturbing quotes by anti-gay religious leaders that I've ever come across.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The 99

I just came across this and had to share... There is a new cartoon out with some interesting Islamic cultural references. The background story is based on a Baghdad library destroyed by the Mongol Invasion, knowledge/power captured in stones, sent to Moorish Spain, and then scattered across the globe. The history alone caught my attention.

The superheros are based on the 99 aspects of Allah (like Compassionate, Powerful, Watcher, Wise, Merciful), and includes girls in both Western and traditional dress.

It's a really neat idea. Sadly, they sort of dropped the ball on the animation and dialogue. But, as a cartoon for children, I probably shouldn't have had my expectations so high.

There's a decent (longish) article about it here, with a preview:
99 Problems But a Cape Ain't One

Update: The TV show might be a little 90s, but the comic book is really cool.

A Little Philosophy (Sorry)

O.K., so this isn't about the basics of Islamic theology, but other posters have addressed that topic well. At any rate, the line between philosophy and theology is not easy to draw.

It's not an especially interesting read in and of itself, but it contains basic information about modern Islamic philosophy that might pique some interest. I'm particularly intrigued by Mulla Sadra and those influenced by his thought.

Lest it be dismissed as less than apropos to our discussion, see the references to Hassan Hanafi, Ali Shariati and Ruhollah Khomeini.

Ignorance of Religion Isn't Bliss

Here's James Carroll with a column about the relationship between religion and violence:
I am a religious person because I believe that religion can be a way of resisting violence. But that assumes a religion both self-critical and repentant for all the ways it keeps getting sucked into violence — especially with fantasies of a violent God. Today, Islam is on the hot seat because some Muslim nihilists cause mayhem in its name, but Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, Confucians — and those who adhere to the rationalist religion-of-no-religion — have all taken their turns with this bat, even if each of these traditions is based on the call to compassionate love. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

On Christianity and Ideology

What's the difference? Here's one view. It seems to me that belief systems go wrong when they focus more on efficiency than on substantive values and goals.

20/20 What is Islam?

This is only part 1 of 5. The other parts are more directed towards the other topics that we've broken off into. This one gives a brief overview of Islam beliefs and what Islam is. If you don't have 9 minutes to watch this (which you really should) I've highlighted some brief facts that really stood out to me as the most intriguing and one's that I thought most people don't really know about Islam.
  • The Qu'ran has the story of Adam and Eve as well as the story of Jesus.
  • They believe that Jesus was the Messiah and they're waiting for him to come again at the end of the world. ("You can't be a Muslim if you don't believe Jesus is the Messiah")
  • The only real difference, according to this video, between Christianity and Islam is that in Islam, Jesus isn't the son of God, he's merely a divine prophet.
  • Similar to Judaism, Muslims don't believe that there should be any depictions or drawings of Muhammad.
  • Similar to the 10 Commandments, they have the 5 pilars of Islam (the 5 things that make you Muslim).
  • Muhammad said, "You should respect all other religions"
  • Like Christianity and Judaism, there are many different types of Muslims. Some who practice and go to mosque regularly and others who almost never do.
  • Muslims developed advanced algebra and the concept of contagious diseases
  • Muslims came over to America alongside Christopher Columbus on the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria
  • Thomas Jefferson specifically included "Muslim" when urging protecting of religious freedom

So, why do many Americans associate violence, terrorism, and anti-American as the symbol of Islam? Why are they so scared? I still struggle with how this came to be. I feel like a lot of it is picking and choosing what they want to believe and a lot of it is extreme stereotyping.

Here's part 3 that briefly explains the controversy of the veil, the clash of cultures and the stereotype of gender inequality that people throughout the world have issues with in regards to Islam

was there no one who could have stood between that boy and that bridge?

 Here's the perspective of Southern Baptist leader Alfred Mohler on the recent teen suicides:
When gay activists accuse conservative Christians of homophobia, they are wrong. Our concern about the sinfulness of homosexuality is not rooted in fear, but in faithfulness to the Bible — and faithfulness means telling the truth. Yet, when gay activists accuse conservative Christians of homophobia, they are also right. Much of our response to homosexuality is rooted in ignorance and fear. 
This is at least somewhat conciliatory. Does it give enough? Too much? What do you think?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Overviews of Islam

I'm pretty skeptical of things I get online having some bias and/or not being entirely accurate. Some of the things I read came off as a bit of a sales pitch, so I think it is important to keep the source in mind reading them.

The first overview I'm linking to actually is trying to sell a book, A Brief Illustrated Guide To Understanding Islam. I linked to chapter that gives general information on Islam. I was impressed that this site backed up information with citations.

This first one is from a Christian website.

This is a Top 10 Myths About Islam list from, which to my knowledge has no religious affiliation. If you click on the author's name you'll see that, "Huda is a Muslim educator and writer with nearly two decades of experience researching and writing about Islam on the Internet. An American woman of Irish/English descent, she has been a Muslim for the past 20 years."

Here's one more view, from a British Islam group.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Evangelical Perspective on Islam

This link below offers a simplistic look at the theological differences between the Christian and Islamic concepts of God.  Note:  this website is from an evangelical Christian perspective.  I do not agree with this article and I do not support this article, but I think it gives a good point-by-point comparison between the God of Christianity and the Allah of Islam in terms of theological basics.  In Islam, God is not a father or a personal/physical being, but an all-powerful, all-encompassing, omnipresent Spirit-Force.  In Islam, God is able to trick people and deceive people in being astray (Surah 14:4,27) from the truth path which is "submission to God" (or "Islam").  For the most part Islamic theology does not recognize "free will" as in Christianity or "free agency" as in Latter-day Saint theology.  Islam stands for predestination or divine destiny; everything has already been planned out by God.  (Surah 3:145; Surah 6:59)  In Islam, humans have little (if any) free will.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Quick Islam Facts

Here's a link to the information I referenced in class about the locations and concentration of Islam in different parts of the world. It seems that Asia is the true center of the Islamic faith.

Here's another link that gives a brief breakdown of some of the different belief systems ranging from fundamentalist, radical, and more modern practice of Islamic faith.

An Orthodox Rabbi's View on Homosexuality

I thought this was great. It really encompasses a lot of areas we've covered including religious sin versus moral sin and how biblical prohibitions are all about the context you place them in. I enjoyed knowing that if I can't be perfect and follow all of the Torah's 613 commandments, it's ok, I still have hundreds of more I can try to follow. Good to know.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Our Father?" An interesting perspective on the relationship between the West and Islam

This article below is not academic, but I think the mathematics and concepts behind it serve as an interesting take on the global issue of Islam in the world.  I think the implications of this if expanded could affect the way that the West views Islam in the future.  And personally, I think it would be weird for one to find out that he is distantly related genealogically to the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).

For me, I can personally say that it would probably change my perspective were it conclusive.  Such a finding would probably create more questions for me than it would answer.

Islamic theology

This link seems to be a very good source with respect to Islamic theology.

This link as well is very good for the basics of Islamic theology.

From my understanding, the theology of Islam is not too in-depth as say Judaism or Catholicism.  Unlike Judaism or Catholicism, in Islam one is not tested over a several month long period in front of religious authorities before being able to convert.  In the process of converting to Islam, depending on the Islamic sect, one must simply affirmatively declare in Arabic that there is only one God Allah and that the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) is His Messenger in front of at least two Muslim male witnesses.  These two basic principles of there being one God and the Prophet (s.a.w.) as His Messenger form the theological core of Islam.

Is Islam a Religion of Peace?

A debate.

Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?

That was a statement regarding the nature of homosexuality at the general conference of the Mormon Church a week and a half ago. NPR's story about those protesting the statement here.

Muslim Demographics via Market Analysis

This link is to Allied Media Corp. and is analysis of the Muslim American Market from an advertising firm's vantage point.

Claim and Response

I neither support nor have enough statistical information to attribute validity to the videos below.
The first makes rather strong claims regarding the immigration of Muslim's into Western Countries. The most disturbing portion of the video is the end where the narrator says that the data given is "a call to action." What kind of action is the video purporting should be taken?
The second is a response by the BBC to the specific claims made in the first. It seeks to directly counter the claims made by the first.
Again I do not have the statistical data to verify either video's accuracy and I don't advocate for either one, but I find the comparison to be a reflection of tension felt by Westerners towards the Muslim religion and Islamic culture.

UPDATE: See first comment for link to the Snopes review of the first video--BTL

History of Religions Map

Follow this link to see a 90 second review of the distribution of religion around the world.


Religious Diversity in America


Islam - Distribution of Adherents


WolframAlpha - Islamic Population Worldwide


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Another Law and Theology blog

Here. But it looks a little outdated.

Bloggingheads: Christians and Gay Rights

Here's a video of a discussion between Sarah Posner of Religion Dispatches and Robert Jones of the Public Religion Research Institute regarding changing public opinion of gay rights among Christians.

Honeytrap "sexpionage" approved by Rabbi

Interesting link that was passed along to me this week.

Here is a good map of the global Muslim population.

The website also seems tailor made for this class. It claims to be a nonpartisan "fact tank" that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

First Stem Cell Implant

I thought it appropriate- last friday a man was given a dose of embryonic stem cells that had been converted into nerve cells, in the hopes that they might regrow and he might get some feeling back. Follows right along our inquiry into what technology may or may not be able to do in this field. We will have to wait and see...

Diversity and Islam

Here is one Article that helps explain Islam's view on diversity in general.

This next one is a map depicting the different types of Islam and their location.

This last one is from Time magazine showing the world location and population of people who follow Islam.

Good Islam info source

Brittanica Encyclopedia has a pretty comprehensive entry for Islam, lots of good secular and objective info.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Jesus would let your house burn down

Here's an example of a blend of theology and economic theory that explains a lot, I think, about what many current debates are about in this country. Bryan Fischer argues that letting someone's house burn down was the Christian thing to do. And he explicitly invokes gender images; is your theology feminized or masculine? Is God about compassion or accountability? See what you think.

God and Issues

Here's an article in USA Today that talks about how your views about the nature of God are correlated with the position you take on political issues.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Science and Religion--Christianity and stem cell research

Here's Francis Collins, a devout Christian, who Obama appointed to be Director of the National Institutes of Health, explaining how faith and science can be consistent. And this article in the New Yorker describes his struggle with the recent court decision prohibiting stem cell research.

Muslims and Christians

Here's a story about a mosque opening in Idaho, and the Christians who welcomed them.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

Inside Islam

I love podcasts. I listen to them while I'm doing housework, on long car drives, or when I get ready in the morning and I've already missed the news. (Weekends, mostly.)

While doing some general research on women and Sharia law, I found this incredible interview with a law professor at the University of Wisconsin, Asifa Quraishi. She's an expert on Sharia, and also teaches classes on Constitutional Law. (You can read about her on the law school's website) The interview is great, and provides a really solid foundation to start more research, if you're interested.

If you prefer, you can download the MP3 here.

Also, the series this is from, Inside Islam, is very good. I've listened to a few episodes already, and I'm impressed by the variety of people they interview and the even-handedness of everything. It's produced by Wisconsin Public Radio as part of the "Here on Earth" show. The topics are pretty varied, and are broken into categories on the information page.

UPDATE: Our own Prof. Huhn weighed in on Sharia law in one of his recent blog posts, if you're interested.