Archives for the ‘ Quran Study ’ Category

The Vision of Islam

By • Jan 14th, 2022 • Category: Quran Study

Session 15. Islam has a unique vision among world religions: it views the human being as an “indivisible whole”, and does not reduce the essential human characteristic to a certain feature such as spirit, soul, mind or reason. Islam’s uniqueness partly explains why most Western scholars of religion have difficulty with Islam; they argue that Islam’s sacred scripture is interested in issues that are not the “proper” domain of religion such as hygiene, food, criminal law, war and peace, and so forth.  But this critique misses the point: Islam argues that human being is multi-dimensional, and has a host of requirements for a happy life. Finance, politics and medicine are just as important as spiritual pursuits. We will explore the vision of Islam in this presentation.


By • Dec 22nd, 2021 • Category: Quran Study

Session 14. Islam’s detractors often claim that Allah is a God of wrath, vengeance and hate. He is the source of intolerance, bigotry and discrimination among His believers. But, the Quran paints a different picture: Allah’s supreme attribute is “Grace”. Grace is typically defined as free, unmerited and undeserved favor.  As Rumi correctly argues, creation is an expression of Devine Grace: if “merit” was the basis of God’s actions, nothing would come into “being” / “existence”. The universe and all its inhabitants owe their very existence to God’s Grace; because, they did not even exist to have any merit yet! God’s Grace is universal and open to all: believers and atheists, the righteous and sinners alike. In this talk, we will explore “Grace” in the Quran and Islamic thought.

Backbiting (غِیبَت)

By • Nov 19th, 2021 • Category: Quran Study

Session 13. We typically view backbiting as any conversation behind another person’s back. But, backbiting is more than ordinary gossip: it is malicious gossip. The backbiter intends to tear down the dignity or reputation of a person who is not present.  That is why the Quran likens it to “eating the flesh of a dead brother”! In this presentation, we will explore the various dimensions of backbiting in the Quran and Islamic literature.

Faith (ایمان) – Part 2

By • Sep 27th, 2021 • Category: Quran Study

Session 12. Contrary to popular belief, the Quran does not center faith (ایمان) on theological beliefs and formal practices. The hallmark of faith is “fellowship” with God. The Quran informs that we humans carry God’s spirit within us; this common link enables us to form fellowship with God. As our fellowship deepens, we will come to take on “the color of God”; we will emulate the very characteristics that God displays toward us: grace, love, mercy, compassion, forgiveness… In this presentation, we will examine what fellowship with God actually entails.

Faith (ایمان) – Part 1

By • Sep 1st, 2021 • Category: Quran Study

Session 11. Faith is the cornerstone of Islam and the key to salvation. Although the Quran does not give a clear definition for faith (ایمان), it gives us a good sense for what it entails. It describes faith mostly in terms of an “existential” engagement- not a set of metaphysical beliefs or formal doctrines. Faith is a direct and personal “relationship” with God. In this presentation, we will explore some of the main attributes of the faith relationship with God according to the Holy Quran.


By • Aug 17th, 2021 • Category: Lectures, Quran Study

Session 10: Justice is a core value, and a critical teaching, of Islam. The Quran demands justice from believing Muslims- in their private lives and their social institutions. The Quran makes a bold claim: justice is intrinsic to the order of God’s creation. As Imam Ali said, “Justice is the bedrock of creation”. So, humans must be just if they want to be in harmony with the rhythm of the universe. The outcome of this harmony will be inner and social peace. That is why peace and justice are intertwined in the Quran’s view. In this presentation, we will examine the idea of justice in the Quran.

Oneness (توحید) – Part 2

By • Jul 20th, 2021 • Category: Lectures, Quran Study

Session 9: According to the Quran, there lies an essential oneness beneath the multiplicity we observe in the outside world. For example, we see different sexes, races, ethnicities and social classes: male, female, white, black, Hispanics, Asians, rich and poor. But, if we go beyond the surface, we will discover an essential unity: all such multiplicity originated from a single source, a oneness. There are numerous religions in the world: Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism… But, they all originated from a single source, and offer a path to connect with the source we came from. A chief struggle of a true Muslim is to overcome “شرک” (multiplicity and disunity), and achieve oneness inside and with the outside world. In this sermon, we will draw upon the Holy Quran and Rumi to examine some real world examples of “شرک” (multiplicity).

Oneness (توحید) – Part 1

By • Jul 1st, 2021 • Category: Quran Study

Session 8: Oneness (توحید) is the central pillar of Islam. Although it is typically viewed as a metaphysical belief in oneness of God, Oneness (توحید) is far more than that: it is a world view and a way of life! It is a lens through which a person should see and experience the outside world. Rumi’s spiritual master, Shams Tabrizi, has summarized the misunderstanding really well:
“گفت: خدا یکی‌ است. گفتم: اکنون ترا چه؟ چون تو نیستی‌، او یکی‌ است. تو کیستی؟ تو، شش هزار بیشی. تو یکتا شو، و گرنه از یکی‌ او، ترا چه حاصل؟” .
“He said: ‘God is One’. I replied: ‘So what? What does it have to do with you!’ Since you are none, He is one! Who are you? You are more than 6 thousand pieces! Strive to become ONE! Otherwise, what would gain by His Oneness!” In this presentation, we will examine the concept of Oneness (توحید) through the verses of the Holy Quran and the teachings of Muslim mystics.

Does the Quran misguide?

By • Jun 18th, 2021 • Category: Lectures, Quran Study

Session 7: In the past few decades, Islam has been in the spotlight mostly for some of its followers’ bad behavior (for example, repression and gross violation of human rights by Islamic governments, and terrorism by groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda). Casual observers and political pundits typically point the finger at Islam as the culprit. They claim Islam is an inherently violent and intolerant religion, which turns ordinary folks into beasts. The Quran’s teachings make people narrow-minded, hateful, violent and intolerant. Rumi would not dismiss such claims outright. However, he would argue that the Quran simply amplifies its reader’s longings and desires. Rumi likens the Quran to a rope; one can use this rope to climb out of the cave of darkness, or descend into it: both possibilities exist. In this presentation, we will examine Rumi’s teachings on this important topic.

Pure Heart

By • Mar 13th, 2021 • Category: Lectures, Quran Study

Session 6: Pure / sound heart is a key requirement for “meeting God”. The Quran informs that Prophet Abraham came to meet God only when he had acquired a pure heart (قلب سلیم). According to the Gospel of Matthew, when Thomas asked Jesus: “Lord, show us the Father, and it will be enough for us.” Jesus told Thomas,  “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  For this reason, Sufi Muslims view the heart as a sacred place, where the seeker’s journey to unite with God, ends. In this presentation, we will explore Pure / Sound Heart (قلب سلیم) in the Quran.