Sunday, November 05, 2006

Islamic Studies

The masjid here offers two Sunday classes for women only--Islamic Studies (1 and 2) and Arabic (1 and 2). I've been meaning to go for a long time--I tried going in the spring but just didn't make it all too often, and have had the same problem in the fall now. But this week I had extra incentive to go (and I made it, alhamdulillah.)

Friday night I usually try to go to the mosque if there are lectures because they're helpful to become informed about Islamic history, current events, community affairs, and other interesting topics. This past Friday was the 3rd lecture (there had already been 2 on the topic though I don't think it's a series or anything, or at least wasn't originally intended to be) on the Islamic Khilafa. The Fall of the Islamic Khilafa, it was called, and it went over the internal weaknesses which basically brought the fall of the khilafa. The idea is that we start to understand what is good about the khilafa and what went wrong so we can fix the problems and later on institute a khilafa again.

Now I must admit that I know very little about Islamic history, so I really learn a lot at these. Everything said that I hear and write down, basically, is something more than I knew before (since I knew nothing to start with!) But this is why I was at the mosque on Friday. I had gone for isha prayers (I was running a little bit late when I got there so I left my things in the car so I could make the prayer, which I did entirely, btw) and then after the prayer headed back out.

Well while I was putting on my shoes I see my friend Yasmin (who is president of the MSA) talking to a woman (who wasn't wearing hijab, which stands out in the mosque) I didn't recognize. She's smiling and points at me a time or two so I wonder what's up and walk over. The woman is interested in Islam, so I talk to her for a minute, and find out she's going to the Islamic studies class on Saturday (which is usually on Sundays but for an unusual circumstance this weekend). Then I see my friend Sarah and give her a hug while I start going out to my car... she's bored so she comes with. Then another friend catches up who wants to ride to KFC for some macaroni and cheese. (??? People eat that stuff???) So we all go... and I grab my stuff out of my car (including a Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam that I had handy) to take notes and we go to KFC then come back. And the woman is still there so I hand her this book, and she's also talking to Fatima (who teaches the class, and who is very knowledgeable, and happens to be the woman who taught me to pray, as well) who said something nice about me (that I'm on the "fast track" in learning about Islam) which made me feel pretty good. But yay, I got to give her the book and try to see her the next day.

So Saturday... I made it! I tend to feel a little bit "high" after these classes. Lectures about Islam, usually, leave me feeling this way. (Thus I like to come back!) But yes, the woman was there too. And she told me she had read about half the book and was enjoying it. It's not a long book, but covers the "high points" of Islam, and I hope she can benefit from it. She's also read about half of the Qur'an she said. Kinda neat. :-) I did get to talk to her a a little bit after the class before going home.

The class itself was... exciting as usual. As a text, she's using 'The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Islam' by Yahiya Emerick, which is pretty interesting, actually! The Islamic Studies 2 class is the Sirah (also using the Yahiya Emerick book) but this was just the level 1. Inshallah, I'll be taking this class, Islamic studies 1, and also Arabic 1. We went over chapter 4 of this book, which is called 'All About Allah.' Now last night I went and read the previous three chapters which were a great read and now am reading through chapter 4 to remember from yesterday. I really wish more people, non-Muslims, would make an effort to read books like this. It's straightforward and clear, comprehensive and explanatory, and from a Muslim! Instead of coming from non-Muslims... and the author is actually fairly critical of Western scholarship about Islam (that is, how poor said "scholarship" is. The beginning chapters mostly just point out why it's important to learn about Islam.

If you think about it, those of us raised in the West--did we really study it? I remember my world history class... it went like this: prehistoric people... Greeks and Romans... the early Church... the Crusades (from the *ahem*Christian*ahem* perspective--didn't even mention who was fought or why, just that Europe united with the church).. the enlightenment... the renaissance... revolutions... modern wars. We called this WORLD CIV. As in, world civilizations. What world civilizations did we discuss? Western European ones. Fascinating. The impact of Islam on Western thought was completely ignored, such that you'd think it didn't exist. Isn't that interesting?

But it is actually prett important. Thomas Aquinas, it seems, got his ideas about reconciling science with theology from Islam! How many ideas inspiring the Protestant Reformation came from Islam? Interesting...!

Now I'm out of time but I'd like to talk about some stuff I learned in the class but... it can all be summed up in this phrase:
God is soooooooooooooooooo merciful!!!

Let's not forget that. :-)

1 comment:

Gold said...

Bismillah MashaAllah,

Interesting stories, and this entry brought back my memories of History studies at school, aside from the usual "memorize" routine of those studies, they really told alot about the islamic history and the islamic empire..

Also, the school history curricula just listed names and dates rather than looking deep into events, so it was up to the Teacher to either make u love the subject or hate it.. we had a fabulous History teacher called Mr. Mustafa, he didn't care much about the textbook, he rather came into class to tell us stories.. his class was one of my favourite ones.. and unintentionally i absorbed Islamic istory with all the details i could get from teh curriculum.. my favourite study.. Alhamdulillah for that,,

can't wait to read about the mercy of Allah! :-)