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Lecture 9

RLGA02 – Lecture 9

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University of Toronto Scarborough
David Perley

RLGA02 – Lecture 9  For the exam review, focus on the 4 themes at the end of the study guide  No contemporary or modern on exam  Jesus is to a Christian as the Qur’an is to Muslims o Jesus’ incarnates come from the divine world, the Qur’an comes form the divine world into our world o Need to think of the Qur’an as it’s like heavenly word captured in earthly form  How would someone would’ve experienced the Qur’an at the very earliest of history o Oral experience o Cannot understand the Qur’an unless we think of it as an oral document o The tradition believes that there’s a heavenly document, version o But the document comes alive by being spoken o As the tradition formulates, Gabriel commands Muhammad to recite o Parts of the Qur’an was memorized in oral form  In the Qur’an we hear the mention of Allah = Arabic word for god, it’s the god that Muslims identify to be same god that transmitted messages in the past as part of these earlier prophetic groups  Muhammad being the seal of the prophets which means that the revelation that he receives is the last one  The Qur’an is considered to be the completion of prophecy, it means that the ones that have come before are incomplete hence requiring this final prophecy  It’s the same god but the message is a new one  The Islamic tradition view the Arabian peninsula as suffering the age of ignorance prior to the arrival of Muhammad  The Qur’an as a document is not structured in a classic way that a westerner someone form the Judeo-Christian world would expect, not structured in terms of a narrative story  The Qur’an is structured in a few ways, on a basic level it’s structured in general from longest to shortest except for the first chapter of the surah which is the first one  In the olden days, the Christian tradition responded to this document by saying this is not a holy book, it has no narrative structure (no beginning or end) hence it can’t be authentic  Part of the history of the document is that it gets put together quite quickly, so the compilers them emphasis was getting together as fast as possible instead of trying to order them  Why might they just be concerned with just getting them together? o They all potentially have equal value o Over time it gets organized o Eventually what happens is we have a bunch of doctrines that of today is part of what it means to be a muslim but these ideas developed over time o For example, the idea of the miraculous nature of the Qur’an develops overtime as a way to provide legitimacy to the document o This tradition emerges really quickly and is immediately attacked by other tradtions o They had to defend themselves  You guys had your miracle Jesus, ours is the document itself – aesthetic argument, it suggests that if you hear this document you’ll be convinced of it’s divine nature  The Qur’an refers to itself sometimes which is pretty rare for a document, again as a historian what me might speculate is that the moment of the Qur’an actually talks about the Qur’an and its powerful verses might be earlier documents as he’s practicing his ministry, preaching and receiving the revelations there’s a time frame that this is happening  A key theme/style in the Qur’an is exhortation (warning), the tone of the Qur’an is a warning tone because a key theme/topic in the Qur’an is judgement o Heaven/hell o Damnation/salvation  It ties in this tradition in the Arabian peninsula to broader historical tradition of revelation  The primary theme of the Qur’an is the truth of monotheism  Another theme that is expressed in the Qur’an is the expression of god’s majesty, power, nature and how everything seems to work  We have the prophet, and according to most traditions in the Islamic world the prophet doesn’t explicitly appoint anyone to be his successor  So the tradition goes is that his friend Abu Bakr is given the role of first successor  Other traditions have it that Ali is at least subtly referenced as the person who may have been the first successor  By the 9 thcentury we have reference to a group called the party and by party means political/social group – the party of Ali o This group believes that Ali should have been the first Caliph o By the 9 /10 thcentury has looked back on these early events and is interpreting them in it’s own way  Abu Bakr becomes first Caliph, Omar is the second Caliph, third was Uthman, fourth Ali  His is where it gets complicated, the Shia tradition believes that Ali should’ve been first, in the Sunni tradition (the majority) he’s fourth caliph  By the time of the third caliph, Uthman we’ve codified the Qur’an – turn into some kind of document, book and also by this time this tradition politically/socially/religiously has already expanded outside of the Arabian Peninsula  Uthman has a document that he then ships out to the outlying regions, but doesn’t just ship it out because he sends the book out with people to ensure o That it is interpreted properly o It’s a consonantal text at this point, Arabic is a written language that is developing o The original text that Uthman codifies and sends out is consonantal – imagine English with no vowels o Uthman sends our reciters who have memorized the text  By 1923-1924 the Qur’an now exists with the full vocalizations  At the very beginning there were different ways of reciting it, and the tradition captures at first there were 7 variant ways of reciting the Qur’an and they find there’s additional 3 kinds and then in some traditions an additional 4  These variances are not radical, it just means an ambiguity that there’s a certain kind of vowel and pronunciation but doesn’t necessarily change the meaning  The tradition sanctions different version of reciting the Qur’an  It’s people moving with the Qur’an in them, spreads quite rapidly but not without it’s complications  Somewhere around 80% of the Muslim population is Sunni – mainstream Muslim  It’s the majority of the group that believe that there was no clear appointed successor (Caliph)  Establish a difference between Muhammad and the first person that comes after him, so the first person succeeds him but not as like a prophet they’re just the ones that continues things, so in the tradition it is believed that the first four highly righteous, pious people continuing the tradition  So as you go down the line in Caliphs it’s like an ascending sequence of succession, further away from the source of the prophet  Caliphs lead the people, administer the sacred law  Ali does come to believe that Ali is the fourth Caliph but the tradition believes the family line is the line of authority in the tradition, so ideally in that tradition Ali would’ve been first successor  He comes in as fourth Caliph but is assassinated if he hadn’t been assassinated the chances were that his son would’ve ben 5 th caliph  Husain is ambushed and murdered and its considered a martyrdom in this tradition  Husain rebels when Mu adaah names his son to succeed him, Husain is killed and Shias consider this a martyrdom  There’s a huge amount of regret and shame in the tradition for not being there at the time to maybe have changed the way things worked out  Ashura = commemoration to Husain  By the 9 th century we have this idea of a group the Shia as part of a group f people who are different and have different views of leadership in this tradition and for the most part the Shia’s will be ruled by Muslims majority  We want to imagine that Shias were the minority living in the Sunni rule  The Shia tradition believes before you should pass through family lines of the prophets, think of the structure of authority in the Sunni and Shia tradition in two different ways  Sunni o Qur’an and god at the top o Gabriel mediates the tradition to Muhammad o Caliphs o Community  Shia o God o Qur’an o Gabriel o Muhammad o Imam o Community  Difference between both traditions is that there is an interpretive step between us and the prophet in the Shia scheme, so the Imam’s role is as proper interpreter of the Qur’an message  That’s why leadership becomes an issue in the Shia tradition because they believe on our own we are incapable of actually penetrating the meaning of the document  But the Sunni tradition doesn’t believe that, it has a completely different view of leadership that does not have any sort of central person poised at the top  The
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