Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My Recent Absence

I can't believe it's been almost a month since my last post. I've had a number of ideas for posts that I wanted to get out but things have been insanely hectic recently and it won't be letting up for at least another month. I at least meant to make an Easter post (Happy Easter everyone!!!) but I've been busy traveling on business and also for personal reasons.

I have, however, managed to find some time for more reading and thinking. I finished reading A Muslim and a Christian in Dialogue. It is written by two friends, one Christian and one Muslim, both well educated about both their religion and the other's through both personal experience and formal education. The book serves as a good introduction to the two religions and points out their many similarities and some of the bigger differences but it is definitely an introductory book. It is divided into two sections, the first is a description of the fundamentals of Islam and the second a description of Christianity. Each chapter covers a particular topic and is concluded by comments from the other author of the other religion's perspective. None of the topics are covered in any extreme depth and, as a result, much of the heavy theology is absent. However, if you don't know much about one or both religions and want to learn more, I would definitely recommend it.

On one of my recent trips, I picked up Islam by Karen Armstrong, who is an author who writes many books about the monotheistic religions. It is more of a history of Islam and I'm only a third of the way through it but it is definitely very interesting so far. I've already read a biography of Mohammad but this book starts with pre-Islamic Arabia, Mohammad's lifetime, the expansion of the Islamic empire, and continues all the way up to the events of September 11th.

What I've read so far explains the development of a number of the different schools of Islamic thought, fiqh, and shariah law. It is very interesting to understand how the various Islamic movements came to be and, probably more importantly, it explains what the different movements are. Until now, I've been fairly ignorant of Shiite versus Sunni Islam and what the differences were. In any case, I'll keep you updated as I continue to read.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I've been meaning to make some substantial posts and I'm going to make a serious effort to do so in the near future.

Until then, happy spring!


Anonymous said...

Good to hear from you! I hope you have some time to rest and relax during the hectic month ahead. I'm feeling quite overwhelmed myself with work and personal matters.

Take care,

Anonymous said...

Imam Maliki will be mentioned as starting the very first sect, it was actually a collection of all the rules in a book called alMowata - had he wanted it would have been the only sect, but he insisted on free thought - the sects all know that and we differ very little and getting rid os the last few "details" fast.

The internet has changed Islam (Muslims) by creating a shared data base and fair forum, it's not pretty sometimes but at least some 1,000 year old problems are finally being talked about openly - this has greatly reduced the need for Imams for no religious degrees is required.

Islamic discusions are more fair in Arabic - religion is not part of it for few Imams know as much Arabic as a typical Beduin, really. Two Imams might disagree on what a certain verse or word in the Quran means - a Beduin would know, and would even know if one of them speeks the Quran in even a tiny way, with no education at all.

Suppose two great and very wise Priests, Rabbis or Imams talk of a small point in any holy book and differ in tiny details that need full comprehension, logic and analysis from an educated listner, then a simple ileterate Beduin comes in and says that they are both wrong or that this one is right - it's why the Beduins are %100 Muslim.

I hope you keep on writeing - for some reason I get over my writers block here - and like ces, I get bored visiting an empty blog to :)