Islam and violence

I’ve had an interest in Islam for quite some time now. Particularly during the weeks when I was reading through the Qur’an, I would regularly have people ask me about the relationship between Islam and violence.

Given that tomorrow is the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, I thought it appropriate to post this debate between Robert Spence and Dr. James White, which I think brings up most of the major points which have to be considered in relation to this question:

From Islam to Catholicism

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A few weeks ago I attended a presentation after Mass given by my friend Huliana, describing her journey from Islam to Catholicism. My friend Nessa took some photographs and I recorded the audio. Here it is…

From Islam to Catholicism (Download)

The Last Prophet

A while ago I posted a video of the first film adaptation I saw of the life of Muhammad. Since watching it again, YouTube has been recommending this animate version:

Muslim Greetings

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I’ve finally managed to get in contact with a local Imam! I’ll be meeting him next week to start working my way through the questions which arose from my reading of the first half of the Qur’an.

In preparation for meeting the Imam, I researched the appropriate Arabic greeting to give a Muslim. It turns out that, if you’re not Muslim yourself, the greeting which should given is:

“Assalamu alaykum”

Phonetically, this is pronounced:

“ass-sa-laam-muu ah-lay-kum”

…and means:

“Peace upon you”

The response to this is:

“Wa alaykuma asalaam”

..which is pronounced:

“wa ah-lay-kum as-sa-laam”

…which means:

“And peace upon you”

Here’s a video where you can hear these phrases pronounced:

The Message – Story of Islam

“The Message” was the first movie I ever watched about Islam. A copy of it was actually given to me by some Muslims after we had spent a Sunday afternoon in London’s Hyde Park discussing Islam and Christianity. It’s an interesting movie for several reasons, but in particular for the way it depicts the life of the protagonist. In keeping with the Muslim practice of never portraying their prophet, at no point in the movie do you ever see Muhammad on the screen or hear his voice. Needless to say, to accommodate this restriction, the filmmakers had to get pretty creative…

Since I’m taking a break for a few weeks from working through the text of the Qur’an, I thought that now might be a good time to share the movie in case you’d like to learn a  little more about the story of the founder of Isalm:

Qur’an Cover-to-Cover: Day 25 (“Luqman” and “Sheba”)

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wise

It’s another long one today, one hundred and eighty-two verses.

Surah 31 – “Luqman” (Luqman)
The opening is fairly standard stuff…

  • Muhammad is told to warn those who lead other away from the Qur’an and Allah
  • “…those who believe and do righteous deeds  – for them are the Gardens of Pleasure”
  • Allah’s work of creation is extolled.

The title of this chapter refers to a person, “Luqman, the Wise”, an Abyssinian or Nubian slave who lived around Madyan, who was known to pre-Islamic Arabs. Muhammad is told to remind the people of when Luqman told his son “do not associate [anything] with Allah”. There then follow two ayat which comment on the two subjects raised here: care of parents and shirk. We then return to Luqman. He tells his son that Allah reveals all wrongdoings. He exhorts him to prayer, right action, patience and humility.

We turn to the subject of unbelievers, who chose to reject prophets who come with revelation and instead to follow the religious practices of their ancestors.

Muhammad is told to “not let…disbelief [of others] grieve you” since they will ultimately return to Allah: “We grant them enjoyment for a little; then We will force them to a massive punishment”. This seems rather vindictive.

The chapter ends by emphasizing that man doesn’t know the future, but Allah is all-knowing (“[Allah] knows what is in the wombs”).

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Qur’an Cover-to-Cover: Day 23 (“Those who set the ranks”)

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angels

It’s another long one today, one hundred and eighty-two verses.

Surah 37 – “Those who set the ranks” (As-Saaffat)
The chapter opens with Allah swearing by the different angels that “your God is One”.

We are then treated to a description of Heaven’s defense system. We are told that an “adornment of stars…[act] as protection against every rebellious devil [so] they may not listen to the exalted assembly [of angels]” and “are pelted from every side” by flaming meteors. I believe this is a reference to the jinn we read about earlier who eavesdrop on Heaven and report what they hear to soothsayers.

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