Archives for the ‘ Islam ’ Category

What Went Wrong In Islam?

By • Jul 8th, 2020 • Category: Islam, Lectures, Uncategorized

With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the magnitude of the decline and underdevelopment of the Muslim world became more apparent. The breakup of the Ottoman Empire ushered in a painful period of soul searching for Muslim intellectuals: What is the underlying cause of the economic, political, cultural and scientific decline of the Muslim nations? Does the religion of Islam play a role in their backwardness? These questions slowly made their way into the public discourse, and young Muslims began to ask: if our religion is so great, why are we in such a bad shape? In this presentation, we will examine what went wrong in Islam in history.

Imam Ali: The Champion of Good Governance

By • Jun 8th, 2020 • Category: Islam, Lectures, Politics

Throughout the Islamic history, Imam Ali has been recognized as the champion of social justice. His beliefs and behavior were anchored on the idea of justice. In the early days of Islam, his followers were called “adherents of justice” (عدلیه). When he was chosen by the people as the political leader of the vast Islamic Empire, Imam Ali picked one of his trusted aides, Malik Ashtar (مالک اشتر), as the governor of Egypt. Before Malik departed for his new post, Imam Ali penned down a document and detailed how Malik should govern in Egypt. This document is an astonishing manifesto for social justice, popular rule and respect for human rights. In this presentation, we will explorer some of Imam Ali’s teachings on good governance.

The Night of Power

By • May 17th, 2020 • Category: Islam, Mysticism

The Night of Power (ليلة القدر) is the climax of the holy month of Ramadan. Before he was chosen as a Messenger of God, the Prophet Mohammad practiced solitude in the Cave of Hira in the outskirts of Mecca. He performed meditation, contemplation and austerities for long periods of time. All that preparation bore fruit; one night, an extra-ordinary power appeared to him. He saw the world in a fundamentally different way. He vividly saw that the entire universe submits to the Lord and praises His Glory. The Night of Power transformed Mohammad and ushered in his mission. Is the experience of the Night of Power unique to the Prophet Mohammad? Can we also experience a Night of Power of our own? In this lecture, we will examine this question and what the Night of Power has meant to Muslim mystics such as Rumi.

Faith and Hope In Dark Times of Life

By • Apr 21st, 2020 • Category: Islam, Lectures

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc all over the world, on a scale rarely seen in generations. When we face severe hardships in life (such as death of a loved one, financial bankruptcy or a debilitating illness), it will take a toll on our faith in God. It is in such dire circumstances that doubt about God may creep into the faith of a person. In this lecture, we will examine how negative life experiences can weaken our faith in God.

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 Rumi, Hafez and Ibne 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.