Jeff Weston - PHL 160 - 4th Hour Web Site

Islam Home Page

What I Did

This 4th hour report takes us to the Islam tradition. For this report I decided to read two passages from The Range of Religion. They were the suggested passages for week nine from the syllabus : The Glorious Qur'an (p. 331) and The Holy City (p. 361). The passages were both read on 12-8-98.


The first reading includes two passages from the Qur'an, the sacred book revealed to Muhammad by Allah. Both passages were confusing, just as the Bible might be confusing to a first time reader. I recognized certain stories in these passages that also appeared in the Bible, such as Noah's flood. I also saw some of the rules involved with the Islam tradition, such as the veiling of women. Certain lines stick out in my mind due to repetition. "Allah is knower of all things". "Allah is Forgiving, Merciful".

The second reading is a passage from Among the Believers. It is an account of a visit to Qom, a holy city. It describes the trip there, and more importantly the interaction between people once there. The passage describes some laws from Islam, such as the fasting during Ramadan, and the veiling of women. The narrator at one point is unsure that he could be passed off as a Muslim due to the amount of laws and rituals he would not be aware of. Thrown in here and there are different perspectives on the Islam tradition. The story takes place during a revolution, while major changes are taking place.

My Analysis

Both of these readings remind me of the discussion of Orthopraxis versus Orthodoxy. The first reading dictated many laws for Muslims to follow. The second reading described the laws being used in practice. The narrator of the second passage refers to his own ability to be passed off as a Muslim being hampered by the laws and traditions of the religion. It appears than your actions are extremely important, as they are in Judaism where we also see a plentitude of religious laws.

These passages also relate to the class discussion we had about how people seem to embrace the Islam tradition. The narrator described himself as a religious seeker. He was welcomed by Muslims regardless of his previous religious experience. In class we discussed how the laws were not a hindrance, but instead a blessing since there were no questions about how to behave. The veiling of women was favored by the women since it freed them from always being examined by men. In the second passage everyone was happy, even under the strain of the laws.

"All religions divide" is the one phrase from class that jumps out at me after reading the second passage. The story involves Muslims that have different slants on the Islam tradition. The story takes place during a revolution where major changes are taking place in the religion. This passage shows us the view of a religion dividing from within.

Certain pieces from the reading from the Qur'an were things I recognized from the Bible. The story of the flood and Noah's Ark, for example. Allah was described as all knowing, forgiving, and merciful. Those descriptions fairly well match the Christian view of God. Every tradition seems to overlap in some way with others. Perhaps religions are not as diverse as they first appear.