Sunday, October 25, 2009

Blog Week of 10/19- The Muslim Faith

Muslims believe that God has many names and qualities, one of which is Allah, a word signifying God for both Muslims and Christian Arabs. Allah signifies God's comprehensiveness and all-inclusiveness. Muslims believe that God is the ultimate creator of existence and after creating existence, they believe that God does not leave the creation without guidance. God also periodically revealed wisdom to prophets which came in verbal form and which has become sacred scripture. Muslims believe that the last of the prophets was Muhammad. The revelation that was given to him was the Qur'an. The purpose of this revelation was to enable humans to devote themselves to God and to lead lives that will increase their closeness to God. Muslims believe that the Qur'an is the form of revelation that can be relied on today.

The minimum that a Muslim must do and believe in order to be assured of their salvation is quite simple. They must "Worship God (Allah) without worshiping anything along with Him, offer the (five daily) prescribed prayers, pay the compulsory alms, and fast the month of Ramadan." Islam is based upon five pillars:

Shahada: bearing witness that there is nothing worthy of worship by God and that Muhammad is God's messenger
Salat: performing the prescribed Islamic prayer
Zakat: giving of a 2 1/2 % tax on one's assets
Sawm: fasting from sunrise to sunset during the month of Ramadan, and 
Hajj: performing the pilgrimage to Mecca

Over the course of a few centuries the ways in which the Islamic principles have been interpreted in the form of the four major Sunni "schools of law" in addition to the Shi'i schools, the most dominant of which is the Ithna 'Ashari or Ja'fari madhhab. Sunni Muslims are the largest group in Islam. The Sunnah (the example of Muhammad's life) as recorded in the Qur'an and the hadith is the main pillar of Sunni doctrine. Sunnis recognize four major legal traditions: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafii'i, and Hanbali. The Shi'i believe in the political and religious leadership of infallible Imams. They believe that he, as the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, was his rightful successor, and they call him the first Imam (leader), rejecting the legitimacy of the previous Muslim caliphs. An Imam rules by right of divine appointment and holds "absolute spiritual authority" among Muslims, having final say in matters of doctrine and revelation. The two branches disagree over the proper importance and validity of specific collections of hadith. 

Muhammad ibn 'Abd was the founder of the world religion of Islam and is regarded by Muslims as the last messenger and prophet of God. Muslims consider him the restorer of the original faith of Adam, Abraham and others. The most credible source of information for the life of Muhammad is the Qur'an. The Qur'an refers to Muhammad as "a mercy to the worlds." Islam forbids visual depictions of Muhammad. This tradition it held stronger by Sunni Islams. Muhammad's birthday is celebrated as a major feast throughout the Islamic world. In these celebrations, Muslims remember the miracles associated with Muhammad's life. When Muslims say or write the name of Muhammad or any other Muslim prophet, they usually follow it with Peace by upon him or its Arabic equivalent, sallalahu alayhi.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Entry #3 Week of 9/28

The word baroque derives from the anicent Portuguese noun "barroco" which is a pearl that is not round but of unpredictable and elaborate shape. The art of the Baroque began roughly in the 17th century in Rome. It was known for its drama in sculpture, painting, literature, and music. The popularity of Baroque art was encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church, which had decided at the Council of Trent that the arts should communicate religious themes. Another group at the time encouraged the production of baroque art, the aristocracy. They saw Baroque architecture as a means of impressing visitors of their city and expressing power and control.

In many ways, this new form of art was reflective of an important period in world history, the Maritime Revolution. Historians had traditionally emphasized that the Baroque style evolved during a time in which the Roman Catholic Church had to react against the many revolutionarly cultural movements at the time that included new science and new forms of religion. In many ways this mirrors the expeditions of explorers during a time of discovery. The Roman Catholic Church during the time of the Maritime Revolution were still thinking in terms of literal text. The story of Noah and the Flood was used often when trying to explain how the world was composed. For example, when Columbus discovered what we now know were the East Indies, he wrote home to his King and Queen that he had reached Asia. This was because he did not want to upset his figureheads or the Catholic Church. According to the Church, descendents of Noah and his sons were only on the continents of Europe, Africa, and Asia...not North or South America.