Archives for the ‘ Islam ’ Category

The Spiritual Fruits of Ramadan

By • Aug 11th, 2016 • Category: Islam

Ramadan is the most sacred month in the Islamic calendar, because it opens up vast opportunities for spiritual rejuvenation and personal growth. True fasting is not about starving the stomach, but the Carnal Soul; it is not about losing weight, but vices. This lecture will explore the spiritual dimension of Ramadan. We will discuss 3 important fruits of Ramadan: 1) Self-control; 2) Heart and soul purification; and 3) Spiritual transformation.



The Meaning and Practice of Piety

By • Dec 16th, 2015 • Category: Islam, Lectures

Piety is a critical concept in religious spirituality and mysticism. It is also cherished in all world religions. In fact, piety is the bedrock of the Islamic value system. The Quran informs us that God does not judge a person’s worth by gender, race, blood lineage, IQ, financial wealth or even religious affiliation; rather, piety is God’s yardstick to judge human beings. This lecture explores piety as it relates to spiritual growth and development.



Jesus Through the Eyes of Muslims

By • Dec 20th, 2013 • Category: Islam, Lectures

Outside Christianity, no culture surpasses Islam in devoting so much loving attention to Jesus. The Quran, Islam’s sacred book, extensively covers the story of Jesus’ life and mission. It confers many honorable titles on him such as the “Spirit of God”, “Word of God”, and “Messenger of God”. It is precisely due to Quran’s characterization of Jesus as the “Word” of God that Muslims became fascinated with the sayings of Jesus. He also became an inspiration to generations of Muslim mystics, such as Rum, Hafez and Ibn Arabi. In fact, Jesus plays a significant role in Islamic Sufism. In this lecture, we will draw a sketch of the contours of the Muslim perception of Jesus Christ.



Islam and Secularism

By • Nov 21st, 2013 • Category: Islam, Lectures

In the past few decades, the West views Islam largely as a challenge – and a threat- to secular society. The rise of Islamically motivated political movements in the Middle East and Africa has alarmed Western analysts and policy makers. However, the point often overlooked in the discussion is that secularism is largely a product of the West; it has its roots in the Western experience with religion (i.e., Christianity) and the failures of the Christian Church in organizing public life during the Middle Ages. But contrary to popular perception, authentic Islam is not inherently opposed to secularism. In this lecture, we will explore the fundamental teachings of secularism and what authentic Islam has to say about them.



Christ in Islam

By • Dec 21st, 2012 • Category: Islam, Lectures

Outside Christianity, Islam is the only world religion that views Jesus as a sacred personality. The Quran portrays him as literally an “extra-ordinary” person; his birth, mission and death were quite exceptional. The Quran bestows many honorable titles on Jesus such as the “Messiah”, “Word of God” and the “Spirit of God”. Although the story of Jesus in the Quran and the Gospels converge on many points, there is one major point of divergence: the divinity of Jesus (encapsulated in the Christian doctrine of Trinity). Islam refuses to accept Jesus as the literal “Son of God”, on the ground that it is incompatible with monotheism. In this lecture, we explore the story of Jesus in Islam’s sacred scripture.



Islam at the Crossroads: Orthodoxy and Reform

By • Nov 17th, 2012 • Category: Islam, Lectures

The Western media typically portrays the 1.2 billion Muslims as a monolith- a uniform mass with traditional outlook, conservative life-style and extremist political tendencies. Contrary to this inaccurate depiction, Muslims are quite diverse in every respect: theological beliefs, educational level, life-style, outlook and political orientation.

This diversity is quite apparent in Muslims’ response to modernity. In the past few decades, there has been an intense debate within the Muslim scholarly circles on whether Muslims should embrace or reject modernity? Can Islam accommodate the modern norms, life-styles and socio-political institutions?

Two opposing camps have emerged: Traditional-minded conservatives and liberal-minded reformers. These two groups of Muslim scholars have opposing views on the nature and merits of modernity. Conservatives still dominate the Muslim world, but reformers are growing in numbers and social influence (particularly in Iran, Egypt and Turkey).

This lecture examines the theological debate between conservatives and reformers in the contemporary Islamic world- a debate that will have far-reaching consequences for the future of Islam and international relations.



The Essence of Faith

By • Jul 29th, 2012 • Category: Islam, Lectures

Faith is the bedrock of religious life. Dedication to God is typically measure by the strength on one’s faith. However, ‘faith’ means different things to different people. Sometimes it is viewed as subscribing to a set of theological beliefs (e.g., God exists), or unwavering self-assurance about the truth of certain theological propositions. And, faith is sometimes viewed in terms of ‘good’ deeds, where the behavior of a person of faith is guided by compassion and selflessness.

In this lecture we will explore the meaning and essence of faith from the perspective of Islam’s sacred scripture (the Quran).



Islam and Justice

By • May 30th, 2012 • Category: Islam, Lectures

Justice is a critical concept in Islamic thought. One of God’s beautiful names in the Quran is “Just”, indicating that justice is the bedrock of creation. It is the glue that holds any system together.

The Quran is very keen on nurturing a sense of justice by its frequent commandments for upholding justice in our daily lives. It also states that social justice was the cornerstone of the missions of all God’s messengers. Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammad- they all stood for social justice. As such, any community built on their names should incorporate justice in its fabric.

This lecture will examine what Islam teaches about justice.

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Islam: Faith and Tradition

By • Dec 11th, 2011 • Category: Islam, Lectures

There is a great deal of misinformation- and sometimes disinformation- about Islam in the Western media. Unfortunately, some North African and Middle Eastern cultural practice are falsely attributed to Islam, simply because Muslims are the dominant religious group in these regions. For example, ‘honor killing’, ‘female circumcision’ and ‘stoning’ are incorrectly viewed as sanctioned- or even promoted- by Islam.
This lecture addresses these misconceptions; it draws a distinction between Islam as a system of faith, and local social customs and cultural practices some Muslims might engage in.



Role of Prayer in Spiritual Life

By • Aug 7th, 2011 • Category: Islam, Lectures, Mysticism

Invariably, all world religions have formal prayers. Their forms and mechanics vary, yet formal prayers play a key role in a faith-based life. What functions do they serve? What goals do they achieve? This lecture examines the role of formal prayers in spiritual life, using the Islamic daily prayer (or صلاة) as an example.