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This week, we watched a film, Koran by Heart,Links to an external site. Minimize Video that centers on the Cairo Qur’an recitation competition. The Qur’an is a very difficult source for historians and non-Muslims to understand. The primary reason? The Qur’an is not a narrative source, that is, it does not tell a story. The Qur’an, unlike the Bible, is not a narrative expected to promote morality through example. It is considered the living, breathing, actual word of God, dictated and preserved to inspire and educate through spirit and meaning. If you approach it with the typical 21st century American (Judaeo-) Christian idea of biblical narrative, then yes, you will come away disappointed, puzzled, and probably very misinformed. The Qur’an oral nature, not its written nature, and its setting in poetry, not prose, lends itself to oral expression in a way other texts do not…. There is something magical and fascinating in the Word of God beautifully and artfully and reverently ornamented. Christians have done this for many centuries when they sing the Psalms (again, the Psalms are poetry, not prose!)”*
But this is not just a film about how important the musical language of the Qur’an is for Muslims; it’s also a film about how diverse the “Muslim world” is. “Islam” is not just one, single stereotypical thing, but is actually practiced in many ways throughout the world, from Tajikistan, to the Maldives, to West Africa, to Egypt, and beyond.
Make one original post, between 100-300 words, making at least two, specific, fact-based observations from the film: something you learned or were surprised by; a comparison between how Islam looks or is practiced in one part of the world vs. another; something about the gender politics of Islam, which is still a controversial debate today, etc.
To earn all ten points, you must also respond to two other people, at least one day after your first post, and even your responses must contain at least one new fact or observation, not just agreeing or rephrasing what they said.
One more thing: in America there is a long history of prejudice towards people of Muslim faith, of falsehoods and exaggerations. The truth is that “Islam” is not one thing. Instead, like every world religion, it is all the different ways it has been used and abused in history, sometimes for good and sometimes for ill. Other world religions have very similar track records, of great faith and goodness and love, but also of abuses of power and violence. If you post something ignorant, unfair, or prejudicial about people of Muslim faith on this forum, we reserve the right to delete it / not accept it.
*this text is quoted from an assignment written by Dr. Courtney Luckhardt, and this assignment is inspired by hers
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