Interfaith Inquiry – Handout Nov. 10, 2022 – Notes from Islamic Resources

Waging Peace on Islam – Christine A. Mallouhi (Christian from Australia married to/lived among Muslim)

“Fasting and Ramadan” p. 192 ff – Ramadan is a month dedicated to spiritual pursuit of pleasing God by searching ones inner self and making straight what is wrong; reflecting on the progress of ones’ personal spiritual journal, purifying oneself from all evil; and bringing the body into submission through struggling against the flesh through denial of basic comforts. . . . In countries where Ramadan is enforced, public life totally changes. . . . Ramadan is the spiritual high point of the year, the time for the deepest and richest discussions about faith. . . . Muslims should read the whole Quran during that month; by attending prayers and hearing it read, it can easily be finished during that time.

Prayer p. 200 ff -Five times a day an imam at every mosque around the world calls the faithful to prayer by reciting in Arabic “God is greater. There is no God but God, and Muhammed is his apostle. Come to prayer, Come to good works. God is greater.” . . . Morning prayer is a Holy Hour while the four afternoon prayers occur: immediately after the sun begins to decline in the afternoon; in late afternoon; immediately after sunset; after the glow of the sun has disappeared and full darkness has set in. . . . The worshipper first takes time to come to an attitude of prayer or intention to worship (niyya). Each prayer consists of a certain number of raka’: bowing from the torso followed by two prostrations with head touching the floor. Each raka’ consists of seven movements along with a certain proclamation of faith while facing Mecca.

The Hajj/Pilgrimage p.214 ff – (A time of worship with people of many cultures and languages, where rich and poor are experienced as equal.) . . . If the Hajj is completed properly, the pilgrim’s sins will be wiped out . . . The pilgrimage includes a number of symbolic rituals and offerings of sacrifice. Pilgrims walk around the Kaaba (the building housing the black stone that fell from heaven) seven times, stone the devil (stoning three stone pillars outside Mina to symbolize stoning the devi), say prayers at the station of Abraham, drink water from the well at Zamzam in memory of Hagar and Ishmael, and among other things, walk seven times around the mosque and run seven times between the small hills nearby. The ceremonies culminate in offering a sacrifice. . . . Through such a time of repentance and closeness to God, pilgrims expect to be better Muslims afterwards, or, having been a time to obey and thank God for gifts given, to rehearse for the ‘day of judgment’ through prayer for forgiveness with a chance to begin anew by asking God for a clean start.

Veiling of women p. 223 ff – The custom of veiling started among Greek and Roman women during the first century. . . . The object of covering the body was not to restrict the liberty of women but to protect them from harm and molestation under conditions existing in Arabia. . . . Veiling came to be associated with the ruling and upper classes, particularly during the Ottoman Empire.

Scripture p. 233 ff – Muslims understand that the eternal Word of God existed in heaven with God and was sent down to be recorded without any co-cooperation from Muhammed. . . . Muslims accept the Bible as a holy book but believe that they have no need of it because all the important parts are now included in the Quran. They also believe that Christians and Jews corrupted the Bible and that it is superseded by the Quran. However, Christians believe that the Bible was the final revelation of God and so cannot be superseded.

Several other resources from which to learn:

Essential Sufism, James Fadiman & Robert Frager, eds. (Ideas noted from first 25 pages)

Sufis are the mystics of Islam. . . Islam means the complete surrender of the individual to God’s will and total acceptance of the teachings of the Qur’an. . . All mysticism has the same goal: the direct experience of the Divine. . . The Sufi mode of knowing God is intuitive rather than factual . . . The wisdom of Sufism can be found in stories, poetry, art, calligraphy, rituals, exercises, readings, dance movements, and prayer. The aim of Sufism is to eliminate all veils between the individual and God. To understand Sufism, one must understand mysticism which is love of the Absolute, the One Reality also called Truth, Love, or God . . . . For Sufis, not only love but also self-knowledge leads to knowledge of God. . . In Sufism faqir (Arabic for a poor person) refers to “spiritually poor”—those whose hearts are empty of attachment to anything other than God. . . Most Sufis believe that the great religions and mystical traditions of the world share the same essential Truth . . . The Sufis believe that there is one God and one message and many prophets. . . Sufis believe in four great Books—the Torah brought by Moses, the Psalms of David, the Gospels inspired by Jesus, and the Qur’an revealed to Muhammad—plus many shorter scrolls revealed to other prophets. . . Four stages of practice and understanding exist in Sufism—shariah (religious law), tariqah (the mystical path), haqiqah (Truth), and marifah (Gnosis–superior wisdom or knowledge of spiritual truth). . . . The best way to express gratitude to God is to worship God, including to thank God. When we begin our prayers, after we say, “Allah hu ekber,” “God is Greater,” we say, “Bismillah ir-rah-man ir-rahim,” “In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.” Then we say “Al hamdu ‘lillah,” “All praise is to God.” This is how the prayer starts and how Sufis try to live. . . The goal of all mysticism is to cleanse the heart, to educate, or transform the self, and to find God.

God’s Other Children Personal Encounters with Faith, Love, and Holiness in Sacred India, Bradley Malkovsky

A professor at The University of Notre dame, South Bend, IN, Malkovsky has lived parts of a number of years in India. He identifies the primary purpose for writing this book as “to highlight the strength of other religions and of Christianity, especially their ethical ideals and spiritual strategies that lead to transformative spiritual experience and growth.” . . . From Buddhism he learned the importance of understanding and controlling the mind in all spiritual striving. . . Hinduism showed him that there are many different paths of spiritual growth, each one tailored to suit individual needs, temperaments, and levels of awareness. . . From Islam he has come to appreciate the focus on the mystery of God’s transcendence and otherness and simultaneously God’s total claim on human life. He values the readiness of so many Muslims to place the whole of their life under the guidance and direction of the divine will.” 270-71

Eboo Patel from Chicago is founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core. An effective speaker and, writer of Sacred Ground Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America, Interfaith Leadership A Primer. and other resources.

Patel has recently launched a podcast: “interfaith America with Eboo Patel.” Check out these conversations with civic leaders, writers and educators of our religiously diverse nation. The organization Interfaith America is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Patel hopes that people come to value the cooperation among religious people. For example, “Right now, Southern Baptists, Mormons, Catholics, Lutherans, Muslims and Jews are doing remarkable, lifesaving work together on the Gulf Coast of Florida, and they’re doing it inspired by their faith.” He hopes that the phrase Interfaith America will replace Judeo-Christian as our self-understanding.