Exam Review Questions
According to A. Sachedina in his article “Why Democracy and Why Now?” how can Muslims foster a
positive understanding of democratic ideals within an Islamic framework?
- After 9/11, many Muslim leaders took an “us against them” stance which made the Muslims in
the West look bad. These preachers promote seclusion and mistrust.
- Democracy means people can demand an accounting from their leaders, whether political,
religious, and cultural.
- We need to learn how to guide ourselves and our community to build constructive relationships
of justice and charity at all levels of human existence. Islam can help us to create respect for the
equal dignity of all human persons and an appreciation for God-given liberty of human
conscience. You don’t have to be secularist to seek a consensus with people of diverse religious
- We should reach out to our community, combat confusion of conservatism with faithfulness to
Islam, and counteract intolerance and bigotry that are taught in too many Muslim institutions all
over the world. This will obviously not be easy as backwardness and extremism are very
powerful to overcome.
Explain two approaches to re-reading Islam’s position on women. Provide at least one example for
- To go back in history and study the role of women in early Islam
o Examples - Feminist scholars argue that the prophet listened to women and treated
them with outmost respect (marriages were for political reasons)
- To open the door of Ijtihad and re-read the Quran and Shari’a in light of modern reality of life
o The Quran systematically justified women’s inferiority to men but some say the readings
should be seen as Ijtihad and there’s more to it than the scripture. Some object the
o Examples – God privileges only the most pious, this is not a question about gender. Also
the verse in the Quran that tells women to stay in their houses was for the prophet’s
wives. If this were for every women there would be no female teachers, nurses, doctors
in Islamic states
Discuss the prophet’s strategy in Medina and explain the constitution of Medina. Make sure that you
elaborate on the outcome of the constitution for the Muslim community.
- Muhammad unified the two enemy tribes in Medina. Assimilated Meccan Muslims into Medina
society (Muslim brotherhood) and d rafted the first Islamic Constitution (622)
- It constituted a formal agreement between Muhammad and all of the significant tribes/families
of Medina which included Muslims, Jews, Christians, and pagans. This constitution was created
to stop the inter-tribal fighting between the clans of Aus and Khazraj. Exam Review Questions
- Effectively established the first Islamic state. Security of the community, religious freedoms and
Medina became a holy place (no weapons/violence), security of women, stable tribal relations,
tax system for supporting community, judicial system.
- Contract was built upon the concept of one community of diverse tribes living under the
sovereignty of one God.
- Helped Muslims as the non-Muslims would take up arms against the enemies of the Ummah
(sharing the cost of war) but it was not mandatory.
What are the Qur’anic guidelines for compiling and articulating Islamic laws that pertain to daily lives
of Muslims? (Look at lecture 5)
- First off, there are several sources for Islamic Law, Quran, Sunna, Ijma (community of scholars),
and Qiyas (analogical reasoning)
- Two ways to approach it
o Islam is not just a religion it’s a way of life
Law is given by God that humans may order all of their behaviors in accordance
to divine will
No aspect of human life that is untouched by the divine law
o There is no such thing as a practice that is ‘Islamic’
It’s based on intention, Islamic laws are mostly human construct (only Quran is
The law that the Quran provides is named the Sharia.
Fiqh is jurisprudence. 1) Furu al-Fiqh (branch of understanding) 2) Usul
al-Fiqh (root of understanding)
o Islamic law is far wider than just public and private life. It teaches economics, politics,
matters of diet/dressing, civil law, warfare and several other aspects. Main religious
ideal for Muslims is to live a life according to the law. It seems as if it is actually just a
Islamic way of life rather than being a legalistic religion.
Is Islam a violent religion? Balance issues and arguments on both sides as well as critiquing the
- In every religion there are those who are moderate and those who are extremists. Currently
Islam is tainted as a violent religion by terrorists who deem themselves as spreading the word of
Allah and fighting against the infidels as if it part of their religion.
- As it started off in a violent atmosphere, as pre-Islamic Arabs were fit in a life full of warfare
- Islam actually came and stopped the bloody warfare between the tribes and transferred their
already wasted energies by saying they should fight only for God. This is not necessarily saying
to go out and kill non-believers, it is solely saying that the only reason to fight is for God and not
be the first offender.
- This brings the question of Jihad. The Qur’anic verses on Jihad were not meant to oblige
Muslims to wage war. Islam focuses on a more defensive stance, the Quran tells us that the only Exam Review Questions
reason to fight others is in defense for you but if one actually starts the fight, it is against the
word of Allah.
- Like the Quran states, no women/children/old, people who greet with peace shall be harmed
and if you do, then you have transgressed. People like Bin Laden who says “Killing Americans
and their allies civilian and military” is the complete opposite of what Allah would want.
- No textual justifications for violent/terrorist acts, no one can cite an example of brutal slaughter
of innocents from life of prophet. Islamic history shows remarkable degree of
acceptance/respect for non-Muslims
Discuss the six major teachings of the holy book covered in the lectures and the readings.
- Allah and his laws
o Uniqueness/Rules over all of the Quran. All might all powerful and merciful/no
association simple mortals. Sent messages to creatures in the past but reached
perfection/completion in Islam. Day Judgment.
- The Qur’anic Universe
o Heaven/Hell/Earth, Humans/Jinns/Angels (Link b/w human and Go, Jinns created from
fire). Satan is principle of evil (No original sin).
- The Muslim Community
o Muslim mission is to be a servant of God and spread his rule is an obligation. Equality of
all believers. Social Justice.
- The Final Judgment
o Everyone dies at their appointed time known only to God. The resurrection takes place
and each person is judged. The world as we know it will be destroyed and hell is made
up of fire and paradise is deemed glorious.
- The path to paradise
o Believing in God, messenger, Quran is the path to paradise.
- The previous prophets
o Some God who communicated with past prophet, 28 other figures other than
First, explain the perpetual state of war in pre-Islamic Arab society. Second, how did the Prophet
address and solve the issue of violence in his society. Finally, what is the role of violence in Islamic
- In pre-Islamic society war was both activity/condition. State of war always existed between
tribes. The state of war drove them into desperation which led to the institution of the so-called
- Prophet began preaching the message of Quran (many hesitant to follow). Islam challenged the
Arabs sense of loyalty to blood ties/kinship. It asked them to be loyal to Allah and forced Arabs
to affirm commitment to Islam and only fight for their religion
- Qur’anic verses on Jihad were not meant to oblige Muslims to wage war. Quran is responding to
a pre-existing state of affairs by effectively redirecting energies that were being wasted. Peace Exam Review Questions
rather than conversion to Islam was the ultimate aim for this fighting. The Quran also states that
one should fight those who fights against you but don’t be the primary offender The Quran
states that Allah does not love those who are the transgressors. (No textual justification for
violent/terrorist acts in Quran)
Compare and Contrast Sunni and Shi’a’s. Explain how Sufism differs from both.
- After the Prophets death the conflict between Sunni and Shi’a began which was more political
than theological. Prophet did not choose successor but Shi’a claim Ali is successor.
- Sunni (Against Mutazilites). Regards itself as main branch. Prophet Sunna, literalistic Quran,
decision of early scholars
- Both accept Allah and message of Prophet. Shia adds Ali is a friend of Allah to the Shahadah.
Sunni’s have no central authority it’s within community whereas Shia resided in prophet, twelve
Imams and Ulema.
o Shia believes Imams possesses miraculous powers as the Prophet. (Protected by Allah
from sin/error). Shi’a divorce law more restrictions
o Abandoning oneself to God. One does not possess anything nor let anything possess,
leaving behind despicable quality b