You have been asked to write a brief (several paragraphs) entry for an encyclopedia on Islam. Your article is on the first six hundred years of Muslim history following the death of Muhammad. As well as outlining the main events, you have been asked to note what influence the events of these times had on key aspects of Islam.
Write a brief summary of the distinctive features of Shia Islam. Include in your summary a brief reflection on how these features may explain modern events in Iran.
Based on Readings 6.1 and 6.2 write a brief account of the key distinctive features of Sufism drawing on Readings 6.3 and 6.4 to illustrate them.
Rippin, A 2001, ‘Sufi devotion’, Muslims: their religious beliefs and practices, Routledge, Taylor & Francis, London, pp.136–148.
Access eReading – (UniSA Staff and Students only)
Awn, P 2005, ‘Sufism’, in L Jones (ed.) Encyclopedia of religion, vol. 13, Macmillan Reference, Detroit, pp. 8809-8825. (electronic version)
via Gale Virtual Reference Library to UniSA staff and students.
From Jalalud-din Rumi (1207-73), one of the great Muslim poets and mystics. Born in what is now Afghanistan, Rumi settled in Konya (in what today is Turkey) and was known as Mevlana (‘Our Teacher’).
The heavenly rider passed; The dust rose in the air;
He sped; but the dust cast yet hangeth there.
Straight forward thy vision be, And gaze not left or right;
His dust is here, and he In the infinite.
As salt resolved in the ocean I was swallowed in God’s sea,
Past faith, past unbelieving, Past doubt, past certainty.
Suddenly in my bosom A star shone clear and bright;
All the suns of heaven Vanished in that star’s light.
Flowers every night Blossom in the sky;
Peace in the Infinite; At peace am I.
Sighs a hundredfold From my heart arise;
My heart, dark and cold, Flames with my sighs.
He that is my soul’s repose Round my heart encircling goes
Round my heart and soul of bliss He encircling is.
Laughing, from my earthly bed Like a tree I lift my head,
For the Fount of living mirth Washes round my earth.
Happy was I In the pearl’s heart to lie;
Till, lashed by life’s hurricane, Like a tossed wave I ran.
The secret of the sea I uttered thunderously;
Like a spent cloud on the shore I slept, and stirred no more.
He set the world aflame, And laid me on the same;
A hundred tongues of fire, Lapped round my pyre.
And when the blazing tide, Engulfed me, and I sighed,
Upon my mouth in haste, His hand he placed.
Through every way I try, His whim to satisfy,
His every answering word Is a pointed sword.
See how the blood drips From his finger-tips;
Why does he find it good To wash in my blood?
Remembering Thy lip The ruby red I kiss;
Having not that to sip, my lips press this.
Not to thy far sky Reaches my stretched hand,
Wherefore, kneeling, I Embrace the land.
I sought a soul in the sea And found a coral there;
Beneath the foam for me An ocean was all laid bare.
Into my heart’s night Along a narrow way
I groped; and lo! the light, An infinite land of day
Rhymed Couplets from the Mathnawi selected from ‘Persian Poems’, an anthology of verse translations edited by A.J.Arberry, Everyman’s Library, 1972, found at http://www.rumi.org.uk/rubaiyat.htm
Fom Al-Ghazali (Abu Hamid Muhammad b. Muhammad Al-Ghazali, 1059–1111 CE), one of the great Muslim theologians and mystics:
Those Gnostics, on their return from their Ascent into the heaven of Reality, confess with one voice that they saw nought existent there save the One Real. Some of these arrived at this scientifically, and others experimentally and subjectively. From these last the plurality of things fell away in its entirety. They were drowned in the absolute Unitude, and their intelligences were lost in Its abyss…. Therein became they as dumbfoundered things. No capacity remained within them save to recall ALLAH; yea, not so much as the capacity to recall their own selves. So there remained nothing with them save ALLAH. They became drunken with a drunkenness wherein the sway of their own intelligence disappeared; so that one exclaimed, ‘I am the ONE REAL!’ and another, ‘Glory be to ME! How great is MY glory!’ and another, ‘With-in this robe is nought but Allah!’ …But the words of Lovers Passionate in their intoxication and ecstasy must be hidden away and not spoken of….
Now when this state prevails, it is called in relation to him who experiences it, Extinction, nay Extinction of Extinction, for the soul has become extinct to itself, extinct to it own extinction; for it becomes unconscious of itself and unconscious of its own unconsciousness, since were it conscious of its own unconsciousness it would be conscious of itself. In relation to the man, immersed in this state, the state is called, in the language of metaphor, ‘Identity’; in the language of reality, ‘Unification’.
Al-Ghazzali, AHM, ‘Mishk�t al-anwar’ (The niche for lights), translated by WHT Gairdner. First published as Monograph Vol. XIX by the Royal Asiatic Society, London 1924 pp.108-109.
Found at http://www.sacred-texts.com/isl/mishkat/index.htm
After completing the Readings, write a brief account explaining how modern history requires knowledge of past history in one of the following instances:
• Modern Pakistan with regard to the Moghul Empire
• Modern Iran with regard to the Safavid Empire
• Modern Turkey with regard to the Ottoman Empire
Based on your reading for this topic and drawing on what you have learned through Activities 8.1 and Activity 8.2, write a short account of the nature of Sharia including a discussion on whether Australian Muslims could be afforded access to a Sharia Council.