Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
I am going to follow this book which is written by Murata and Chittick called the Vision of Islam quite closely. I would appreciate if people read the sections for this week. Preface, Introduction up through Islam so that will be 34 pages. I have taught this book once before to a group of non Muslim teachers and I personally think it is the best thing in English that I have seen as a basic introduction. It is actually not that basic because it is actually quite a deep exploration of the tradition of Islam. In just re-reading this section, I have read it a few times, I was remembering why I liked the book so much. It is useful for Muslims not just non Muslims. What I appreciate about the book is that there are two ways religion is looked at in the West. They call them in vocabulary a religious tradition, in universities narrative approach and descriptive approach. A descriptive approach is the most common approach, it is the anthropological approach, it is the approach that looks at how a religion manifests itself in a society, how people behave, how they express their religion, their practices. This will include folk practices as well as practices instituted by the religion. It will also bring up some very bizarre things because human beings do some very strange things and they will often do them in the name of religion and so that will be seen as part of the religion.
From the perspective of a scholar of the religion and I mean devotional scholar because in the West they differentiate between devotional scholars, between scholars, what Dr Cleary calls “scholars for dollars”. Those are people who earn their living in institutions so they will study something as a way of making their living whether they believe in it or not. So many people will teach religion that do not believe in religion. That perspective of religion will taint the way they teach their religion.
I went through a religious studies program at
One of the things that they explain they are attempting to
do is to explain Islam to Muslims who as a general rule know nothing about
their religion but are defensive and that is very true. Most Muslims do not
know anything about their religion in any deep sense of the word. If you
actually ask them to tell you about things you would be surprised at how
ignorant many Muslims are. Then to Westerners who know nothing but are
instinctively hostile so you are dealing in an environment. One of the things
that Dr Cleary says in his book “Zen Cohens”. “An American who believes in
himself or herself to be liberal, open minded, unprejudiced will display the
most extreme prejudices if asked about Islam a religion that he probably knows
absolutely nothing about”. But immediately will begin to voice options about
which if he voiced them about something else he would feel he was prejudiced,
that it would be unfair to do that. So it is very interesting the hostility
that a lot of people have. There are many reasons for that hostility. There are
historical reasons for that hostility. Islam for centuries was the most
powerful force in a large part of the world. For that reason, other peoples
either lived reasonably harmoniously with the Muslims or instance the Chinese.
The Chinese traditionally had very good trading routes with the Muslims. You