2:37PM Dec 2, 2019
Try my game, are you down? They're going to be loud. Okay. All right. So.
So as long as difficult, particularly because of that, because we feel like we know, you know too much about it. So I'm going to try as much as we can to just get historical framework for it. And not that that resolves everything or fixes everything. But it does give us some cultural sensitivity and insight into why things are structured the way they are. One of the arguments that I'm just going to simply make to you is that there isn't a there is a parallel or a congruency. Do you know what I mean by the word congruity, a congruency between the political and the theological when it comes to Islam. Now when I say the theological that terms okay for you, you know what I mean by that, like what, what this religious perspective believes about divinity. So there's going to be a political dimension and there's going to be a theological dimension and they overlap but this is not unique to Islam. We saw this with Buddhism at some level, we saw it we obviously see this with Christianity. We see this with Judaism. We also see this with other minor traditions that got taken over by colonial expressions. They developed certain political resistance systems inside the religious practice. This is making sense everybody so far. Okay. So these are the things I want to talk about. I want to talk about Mohammed demand, I want to talk about a little bit of the central theological tenants and then we'll talk about expansion and what it means by multiple Islam's and why that's problematic, particularly as it relates to the central theological idea and hopefully, in about 30 minutes, we'll get out of here because it's too hot. I'll get myself worked up to talking, right. Okay, any quick questions so far before we press on? Okay, so let's talk about Mohammed demand. There are multiple different spellings from Mohammed, sometimes you see an O. Sometimes you see other things behind it, like little surnames and things like that. But we're just going to focus here just to make things simple. Much like the cases with Buddhism is like as a case with Christianity, you have Islam as a religion that centered around a particular figure, but unlike those, this particular figure is not treated by those religious adherents as divine. So let me say it a simpler way, they don't think Muhammad is God. Okay, Mohammed is profit. And that's the simple part of the story. In fact, there's a saying, or a statement in Islam there, you know, there's no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet, or Muhammad is His Messenger. That's like the simple statement of the Islamic tradition. And you all know, you've probably heard before that Islam means submission. And so in this case, in in the Islamic tradition, the God, Allah, God is the supreme sovereign entity and the role of the Prophet is to be in proper submission, and to teach other people to be in proper submission. So we're going to concern ourselves with kind of where Mohammed sort of originates now, do any of you all know where the Arabian Peninsula is? It's what you know, a Saudi Arabia, right. We've seen this before. This is Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Persian Gulf, right. Sinai Peninsula, Africa, blah, blah, blah, blah, right. And then you have appear The Palestinian area to kind of see where we're at in the world, right? Most of what we're we're focused on here with Islam is occurring in this area at the time of Muhammad's emergence in the sixth century. Basically, fifth and sixth century, Arabian peninsula is a seedbed have a variety of different religious perspectives and a variety of different trades and crafts. Okay. So what you have is a lot of people in this area, different little groupings popping up. And these groupings, all have different religious perspective. So we might call this a polytheistic region, right? What we mean by that is, it's very comfortable with there being multiple different deities. We've seen this in multiple places like when Egypt starts to develop its own mythological framework. It's because you see these little communities pop up that have their own patron deities for their area, but in their minds, all of them can kind of meld together in one general Pantheon. Do you know what I mean by Pantheon? The word the word pan right means Like, all Okay, and so, Pantheon, the fayliss means gods. So it means all Gods together. So a Pantheon will be like the collective or the group of Gods together. This is basically the way things work in this world in which Muhammad grows up. So there's two things happening. One, lots of commerce and trade and traffic and lots of different kinds of people, right? are different kinds of perspectives. And you also have different kinds of deities, but it's okay with them. Because in their minds, they all sort of meld together. We also saw this in the Mesopotamian traditions. We've seen this in tribal religions. This is not an uncommon idea. But what ends up happening is that Muhammad is born in this tribe, the cross tribe here, and it's a significant tribe. He's a part of it, but he his parents died very young, in his young life. So he's basically on his own for a little while, and by the time he's 25, he starts working for this woman Khadija, who is a caravan owner. She's one of these right? She's like a trader. And this is not to our, but Dr. So she's part of this trading practice in this network and interplay, he goes to work for her. And when he's 25, and she's 40. They get married, right? And they have a very stable relationship. They have a little bit of trouble with having kids and not having them but them surviving. But then he has a few daughters that end up growing up and marry some other folks. Now in this world in this Saudi aim, where Saudi Arabia is in this ravy and pencil world, you basically have the life of the Bedouin, right? The traveler, the Nomad, pitch your tent, move on to the next town type thing. And you have the life of the Bard in this world. Oral transmission is important. Basically, you have a world of in a world of finance, in a world of religion. You have a ton of storytellers, right. And we still see this in networks. Now think about how networks work for us, even if we're on social media interfaces, or we're at social Stories themselves are a critical part of the way you grease the wheels of connection. Right, is that we're still very much storytellers. We'll go to a mall, we might be there for commerce, we might be there for social things. But these little kids over here who are drinking Orange Julius, which doesn't exist probably hasn't for 15 years or whatever the hell they're eating Cinnabon, I don't know, getting diabetes. They're over here doing this there are telling stories with each other. So this Arabian peninsula is a world of storytellers and nomads and all this other kind of stuff. So think of this interconnected moving world.
In this world, there is a tradition where in Mecca, you traveled to Mecca and in Mecca, there was a thing called the Kabbalah, which is a cube, okay. It's a gigantic cube and you've probably seen this before, in during, you know, Muslim travels and so forth. But before we have Islam coming on the market, as it were, you have this cube and people traveled to Mecca and walk around this giant cube. Okay, so think of people like this, their photos, their photographs of this in your, in your book, in walking around this in the the theory works like this, that all of our gods converge on this reality. And the general belief in the Arabian Peninsula is there was about 360 gods in that area and they all sort of dwelt in this cube at this time. This is almost like a temple. But what I want you to see in this is that their celebration of coming here and walking around it is cosma, janyk and cosmological. Do you see why? Because I've used those words a lot. And way back at the beginning, it felt like it was just a vocabulary word, but it wasn't. It's a conceptual thing you have to understand for religious practice, meaning, cosmology, how the world is made cosmology, how it runs, look at what this is, this is an orbit. Right? It is an orbit and It's time. Right? This is very close to the year 360 days 360 gods, right? And so the idea is that the unity of this, all these religions converge on that. And some scholars are going to say this heavily influences Muhammad's version of there being one deity since making sense, because this one deity would be basically the thing that brings all those sub ones together. Now, the word circumambulation, anybody have an idea. We know what circuit means is around circum Loki would be to talk around, so what is the circumambulate? Right walk around it. And so this circuit emulation is a very ancient religious practice walking around something you see this in Judaic traditions with walking around Jericho, you see this and certain druidic traditions like walking around a building to guard it from spirits. So this is a normal things walking around stuff has some sort of religious implication. And so that's what you have here as well. Now, what I'm telling You here's I'm trying to set the framework for where Mohammed comes from. You come from a world of networks, you come from a world of orality, and you come from a world where people go, and they celebrate the gods and their influences on things by walking around. From the Muslim perspective, this time period, it's called the age of ignorance. That's what this term means. And I'm not a an Arabic scholar. So I don't know if my pronunciations are correct, but will say Joe Hylia, or is the is the age of ignorance. So in the mindset of Muhammad, when Muhammad emerges on the scene says, here's what what God wants, in their mind. They're not in his mind, in the mindset of his followers, they're not creating something new. They're recovering something that's been lost. This is why the Muslim sees their connection with Abraham, more so than anyone else. Why you see the name Ebrahim. A lot of times in Arabic are people using that in Muslim traditions? In Muhammad's mind, we're connecting with that old monotheistic tradition that there is only one God remember The Holy Shema of the Jews was right. Hero Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is one. That's the old Shema. That's what the junos right? Yes, correct. Yeah, I wish I could just do like the whole chant, right? But it means our God is one, right. And so in the mindset of the Muslim in this age of ignorance that's been sort of muddied by the idea of multiple deities. We're going to reach back to the old tradition. So you see a strong connection. So the Jihad Leah, is this age of ignorance. That's what I've just described to you this networked world and all of this orality. Like I said, he starts to work for Khadija. He gets married to her he's very comfortable in this world. He's she respects him as a man of integrity as apparently as a hard worker. She really cares for him. There's a lot of he has a great reputation. Now again, a lot of what we know about Mohammed comes from the Quran, and comes from other sayings, just like was the case with Buddhism, just like as a case for Christianity. So there's still scholarship out there to be done on what exactly was going on with this man, but From the insider's perspective, he was a well respected person again, not divine, but more like an ideal man about that I don't mean masculine. I mean, ideal human. Again, I told you she was involved in caravan trade. So that was the world he grew up in. At one point.
Mohammed was known to go into caves and reflect. And this is not unusual in religious traditions. caves are hugely important in terms of coming to some kind of religious awareness. If you looked in the Greek tradition, for example, Plato tells the story about going into the cave, right? caves are places where you're going down into the earth, you're going into darkness and somehow the darkness is luminescent. I know that sounds paradoxical and ironic, because the darkness gives light as it were. You think about things like the bell which you know that is, if you don't you better pay her respect. She'll get you Kate. She will We called Kate, like the bell, which is supposed to live in a cave, you know, caves are very much a part of religious and paranormal phenomena. So he goes into this cave and he meditates there for a certain amount of time. And in that time he's visited by an angel and angels are important in the Muslim tradition. And that Angel Gabriel basically tells him to recite, so recite his oral, I want you to see what's happening. In this world of storytelling and trade, a man goes into a cave and is basically told to tell people things. Does this makes sense? And he's supposed to tell them about the oneness of God. But I want you to cross apply this. Now, when you cross apply, don't say, Oh, well, those two religions are just exactly the same. That's silliness. What you're looking for is habits and patterns. Over here, you have him being told indicated by an angel. Oh, here in the Judaic tradition, you have a mosaic figure standing in front of a burning bush. Right. So you have these phenomena where you have someone visited. Now, if you remember those of you that are familiar with the Judaic tradition, what's Moses's response to being called to do this? Do you remember? Why? Why does he not want to do it?
said again, because he's not a good speaker. Right? Same thing happens with Mohammed. Mohammed says, I can't do that. I'm not a man of letters. I'm not a learned man. I'm not a man that can do this. And the idea here in most religious traditions when you have a weak protagonist, and a strong deity, you know what I mean by protagonist. Think about an any story where you have a good guy bad yeah, protagonist. Anytime you have a weak protagonist, you have a strong deity, it's usually put there in place to exemplify or show that, that God is doing something through this person. So Mohammed is told to recite in fact, the word Quran in Arabic means recitations. So these are the things God has told. And in the mindset, of the leaders in the mindset of the listeners, these are direct revelations. Now Mohammed doesn't go and write these things down right away. Later they start to develop them. But understand that Muhammad is present when these things are starting to grow into written documents, which puts Islam in a unique position over and against Buddhism and Christianity. And Buddhism and Christianity of the people who are doing the writings are not really not not the characters themselves, but people much later. whereas in the case of Islam, you have a closer connection in time between the two. Well, because he starts teaching this stuff, he's, he's starting to get sort of persecuted. But why why would somebody who's walking around saying God is one be persecuted because it compromises political authority. Please understand, that if I have a god for my town, and this and this and this and this and this, and I have somebody coming in and telling us that we need to change what we're doing in order to serve another deity in the mindset of this world serving another deity means changing the way I do life on the ground. So people are not welcome to this and perfect example of this is back in Christianity, if you're familiar with Christianity at all, you've heard of a book called acts or the Acts of the Apostles. There's a scene in the Acts of the Apostles where one of the main characters Paul is actually going to get in trouble with some people because he tells them that they don't need to worship idols. Well, the people who get pissed about that are not people who are worried about their hearts, but people who do what, who sell idols, right. So if I'm selling idols and somebody's saying, don't do that, it's like my God, there goes my job. That's why they get pissed just because their money is getting taken away. Same thing here is that when he's going around preaching this stuff, it creates ripples. And even from his own tribe, his own people start to put pressure on him. So he has to leave. So he had he, you know, experiences, visions, he has insights, all this other kind of stuff. He ends up traveling away from Mecca, he wants to stay there, but he goes through a stage of a migration within each not I immigration means moving into immigration means moving out. So he moves This huge draw is the time this basically this furlough or this travel away and he goes to a place called Medina Well, it would eventually be called Medina, which means like the city of the Prophet, but at the time he goes there, he's just getting away and his followers are going to go with him, because he's trying to flee persecution. But when he gets to Medina, the overlap between theology and politics start to converge on one another. He doesn't set out to be a political figure. But when he goes to Medina, people start to respect him, they start to respect his insights, they respond to start to respect his perspective. And they start asking him for political advice. What do we do with the town? What do we do with this? What do we do with that? And he started to see the emergence of the oma. And this term means like the Muslim tribe, the transnational global people.
And so, the folks that are following him that are listening to his teachings are starting to develop a certain kind of unity. Now this is critical, right? Because if God is one, then the people are one is well, this makes sense. So the political implications of being a united people, and the theological implications of being a singular God, are parallel. And again, all the way back here in Muhammad's mind, whether you want to hold to the fact that these are visions he receives from Allah, or whether you want to ask it socio politically or geopolitically, or phenomenologically. What you have here is in Muhammad's mind, the reason these people have 360 deities is they don't see that they're all trying to talk about the one. They're just different modalities or expressions of the one. So Mohammed bypasses the expressions and modalities and says what we're trying to worship is the one so let's focus on the One God that will kind of clear the air for us and keep us from making mistakes. This makes sense. Alright, so the, one of the key tenants obviously of Islam is going to be the singularity of Allah is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger. So you start to see political incorporation in Medina, you start to see the Muslim community coming together. By the way, Islam technically means submission. And Muslim means one who submits, we'll talk about that word Submit. And just a second, it's kind of a complicated word. And it's an unfortunate that in English, we have a certain way of looking at that. But they start to incorporate they And by that, I mean they start coming together. Now, it's important to note that at this point, mahama is power sort of surging, not because he's going out and asking for it, but because you know, people are listening to it. And what they start doing, which is interesting, they start raiding caravans that are on their way to Mecca for trade. So he and his followers and this is not like, it's easy to think it's an aggressive act, but in this day and age, it's more like an economic act. And so what they're doing is they're trying to get some goods from whatever trade caravans are going, and the people in Mecca start getting nervous again about Muhammad in Medina, because he's gaining power, and he's also having an effect on these caravans. And at one point they have a battle, which the Muslims win over against his former tribe and his former town. At one point, he and his followers say, you know, we're going to make a pilgrimage back to Mecca, to the Kabbalah. And the Meccans basically getting nervous, he's going to come in and take over the town, they asked him to wait a couple of years before he and his people come back. They agree. And Mohammed comes back to the town with his people. And they basically Mecca surrenders the town to Muhammad. And so this is a religio political conversion of sorts. Does that make sense? Alright, so these are the main cities, the main areas and things like that. So you're seeing the overlap between the teaching of the singular God and the teaching of the sort of the singular people all sort of coming together.
Good grief, how many times I'll have to
do that. Alright, so let's look at some of the theological implications really quickly talk about those and we'll get to the five pillars and then we'll stop After the five pillars, so unity and transcendence are critical, the term transcendence Does everybody know what that means? So to transcend would be something that is unified above accidental phenomena. So for example, if I say the idea of humanity is transcendent because you don't possess it, you don't possess it, you don't possess it. It's something perfect and above all of us that we participate in so transcendence is something that's not contaminated by the changes of this world. It's something sort of beyond or perfected. So the transcendence of a law is critical. And if you are transcendent you were also this starts with the essence it means you're in power.
that's the word. Just kidding. I had to do that. You don't get offended by those little jabs.
Now you're right shit would not make sense.
Do we have another s word to do with power you only that's only the case if you're in the in the loo right if you're really like button down on a stick and given it hell sorry. went a little too far didn't. I did that I'm on record. So so he says recorded. Right? Go ahead. Yeah, supreme would be one. But think of a more political word. Pardon? As close keep yet No, no. sovereign is a word I'm looking for. So sovereign is like I have complete control over the territory, right? And so this is the key with the law, right? Is that a law because of a laws perfection, and an ineffability, which means like, you know, uncontaminated, because of the ineffability and perfection of Allah, Allah is sovereign. And so sovereign is both a theological term and a political term, meaning that God can choose what the God wants, but it also means that God has control over this earth and we ought to serve him or submit to Him. So you see this word submission, which is what Islam technically means, but I think a better word than submission is observance. Because observance is more like recognition or acknowledgement. So in front of a sovereign entity, it's not just keep your head down or you get your head cut off its to recognize the sheer power and beauty of the Divine. So, ah but the prefix means like in front of you. And survival a means like, it can it means like to bear witness to, or can mean like protect or keep. So it means to like sort of keep in, in, in with what is in front of you, which is worth marveling at. So, I think the Muslim is more inclined to think of what what they're doing as an observance. And observance is a good word here instead of submission because it helps explain Muslim practices like daily prayer, or fasting, daily prayer and fasting or not so much about keeping my head down or I get in trouble. It's about observing the sovereignty and beauty of the deity. It's about bearing witness to it. So it's a very it's a different way to think about it because submission We typically think as overpowering or incarceration. So it's a word that just doesn't help us very much. So there's a high level of devotion in Islam and the high level of simplicity. A lot of the things that people like about Islam is that simplicity. There's no God but Allah Muhammad is His Prophet, boom. Right? Easy. In all we need to do is recognize that. Do you know what the word confession means? We typically think it means tell your sans right. But confessors actually means to acknowledge together. It means to acknowledge it at the same time. So profession means to acknowledge it forth professors, right. So it's very devotionally confessional, and since that we're all coming together as the people of Islam to acknowledge and be aware of the supremacy, your word and sovereignty of this law.
I don't know if I want to
these terms basically mean like, we let's just not worry about it. Let me talk about prophecy really quickly because I don't want to detour on time. Don't worry about those words. I won't put them on quizzes or they, you can look at them up in your text. Alright, so prophecy there's a high view of prophecy in Islam and prophecy does not mean what we have taken it to mean in Judeo Christian societies where it's like this projection of the future, it means more like the revealing. Okay, so they have the Muslim would appreciate profits that have come before, but the Muslim tradition also sees Muhammad as the seal of the prophets meaning the end or the cap, right. And so different religious traditions see that different ways. But for the Muslim Mohammed is the cap and redax or corrects or advises or informs those things that have gone before. There is a respect within Islam for things like that. Jesus the Christ as himself a prophetic figure, there's probably a higher view for Abraham in the Judaic tradition. But there is a place for other religious traditions in Islam as sort of steps unto this bearing witness to the unity and singularity and sovereignty of the one Allah. I just want to get distracted with to Jen is like another word for angels, or like, they're not really angels. It's more like manifestations of the Divine. And usually they're like, have something to do with fire. But what the point here is with angels and with Jen with prophecy, what it suggests is that this God reveals himself to people through mediators. That's the key and Mohammed is the greatest of those. Now, because this deity is sovereign, there is judgment. So if the people have forgotten the unitary nature of this God and been distracted by the sparks in nature of all these implications of deity, and they've been moved away from that, that there is a certain level Judgment, there is a kind of heaven and hell sort of distinction within Islam. But don't be distracted by all of the stuff that you see in news media or you see in popular film about some Muslim dying because he's going to get 40 virgins, right? Those, we unfortunately take those things and read them non symbolically like we would other religious literature. What I mean by that is I don't know if any of us think who come from a Judeo Christian tradition that there's going to be some fire breathing dragon that we all have to run away from at the end of time, right? It's just kind of silly. We know we typically as scholars will read that will say, well, the dragon implicates a certain way of thinking about beasts in the ancient world, blah, blah, blah. Well, the same thing goes for Islam. Now, I want to tread carefully here because there's multiple interpretations. There might be people who will say yes, 40 virgins, the other people that are going to say it's a depiction of a perfect universe where there are a lot of wonderful people, and there's a lot of pleasure, right? So I just don't want you to go down that road of being like There's a heaven and hell and this heaven is like full of like, whatever. One particular scholar of Islam, who had to write under a pseudonym for fear who would, you know, make somebody mad, argues that the Quran should be translated less through Arabic and more through what's the term, the Greek, the Greek, Jewish, Greek Hebrew hybrid, that Jesus speaks Aramaic, that it should be more through Aramaic or maybe even Syriac in what it would suggest, then is that some of the things that are there in the Quran do not may not mean 40 virgins but may mean 40 bushels of grapes, which sounds odd to you like, well, how could those two things be confused? But if you're using two different language constructs to translate something, you're going to come out with different ideas. Now, that's not my way of saying the Quran is wrong, or my way of saying that it should be interpreted this way. That's my way of saying Don't let your brain go down one monolithic look at Islam that's been created for you by Kiefer Sutherland. Right 24 money get you. So I need to let my dad listen to this lecture if you can get past that part where I talked about going the bathroom. All right. So there's there is some judgment there. Islam has much like Buddhism has a framework of five pillars. These are the things it's so what I again, what a lot of times attracts people to Islam is its simplicity and its clarity. You just do this. This is what you did. These are considered the five pillars pillars is the declaration of faith, the Shahada, that is, there is no god Muhammad, there is no God but Allah Muhammad is His Prophet. Then you have daily prayer. Where's the fifth one? Did it delete? Pardon? Yeah, it's the harsh it's the travel. I don't know why I meant may have just missed it.
It's this word,
which means pilgrimage.
So you have the daily prayer, and all that. Some of these I'm going to talk about in more detail, for example, daily prayer, it's a, it's a very detailed explanation in your text. And so I want to spend more time on it directly, but I wanted you to see the overall picture. The the almsgiving is is kind of like, kind of like your Judeo Christian idea of offering. It's also kind of the idea of like a tax. In, in the old Greek tradition, the word like tear gas or liturgy, meant like a, a giving of money from people that was collected in order to do a public service. So like if your community wanted to build a public park, and your neighborhood said, well, let's put it's like your HOA dues. Your Hoa, do you know what I mean by this, if you live in a homeowner's association, society, like have to pay dues, and they use that money for some kind of public good, they're supposed to like keep up the playground or something like that. So the car has a similar relationship to say offering in that, in that that money is given. And it's used to better the life of the poor. So it's almost a philanthropic type thing. That's why we say almost Giving alms giving means like giving away in order to help the needy. fasting during Ramadan, Ramadan celebrates that time that he goes into the cave and gets the revelations, and then the Hodge pilgrimage is going to Mecca. Now, none of these things are binding and so far as that they're trying to torment people's lives again, observance better than submission. So if I'm saying that you need to go to Mecca, if you're pregnant or sick or something like that, no, Muslim shake, or priest or anything like that is going to say to you, oh, you, you know, you got to go there, I'm gonna whip you. It's not like that. It's not the sort of constructs we've created. And that's why I don't like the word Submit. It's more like this As expected, but once in your life so that you can observe the beauty and power of law. So that's, that's why I don't want to use the word Submit. Now, we come back next week on Tuesday, what I'd like to do is I'd like to read and we're going to read a little bit from Freud, a little bit more of that psychological interpretation of religion.
And then on Thursday,
hopefully A little bit more about how Islam grew after this framework, why we have Shia why we have Sunni, while, you know, what are these other traditions? And what is mystical Islam look like? And again, all of this is predicated on authority. When Muhammad is gone, the question is who's in charge? Now, if we're one people with one God, who is our prophetic voice, like who who helps us get there? And it splinters just like in the case of Christianity, not quite as dramatically, but it is very similar to that, which we'll talk about that and we'll talk about the the current political implications thereafter. All right. Any questions? All right. See you later.