Monday, April 23, 2007

Learning about Islam Part 3

More websites to visit and peruse:
NAFAS Online Magazine

Review of Bernard Lewis' "What Went Wrong: Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response" by Juan Cole

The Middle East conflict in a world perspective

LA "Lessons of modesty from the Middle East," April 13, 2007.

Learning about Islam Part 2

Same as the previous post.

Important points and passages:
"The roots of their division can be traced back centuries. When the Prophet Muhammad died in 632, two groups couldn't agree on who would be his successor. The group now known as Sunni believed the new leader (or caliph) should be Abu Bakr (who led from 632-634). The group known as Shia believed Muhammad's son-in-law, Ali (who led from 656-661), was the rightful successor to the Prophet and that Sunnis usurped Ali's rightful leadership."

-Why should the Prophet Muhammad have a successor to begin with? Isn't he made a prophet by God, and not the people? Why did the people feel that they had any say in who "succeeds" the Prophet Muhammad?

Al Wahhab advocated another of Taymiya's more controversial tenets - that some self-declared Muslims were really unbelievers and it was the duty of orthodox Muslims to conduct jihad against them.

In Taymiya's time, it was Mongol invaders. For al Wahhad and bin Saud, it was the Ottoman Empire, which ruled most of the Arabian peninsula. Bin Saud believed that his campaign to bring pure Islam to the Arabian peninsula justified his wars with other Muslims.

- The CBC website also says that for modern Muslims, this jihad is of a personal nature whereby individuals have to wage their own struggle between harmonizing their faith with their modern lifestyles.
- This might be especially true for Muslims who are living in the West and are raised on Western beliefs and customs

In 1932, the kingdom of Saudia Arabia was established."
- The history if worthy of more exploration.

I am particularly interested in the history section of the BBC website. It includes the following topics:

Learning about Islam

CBC Indepth
BBC Religion and Ethics: Islam

Important passages for further exploration:
"Islam's deep intellectual tradition may be seen in classic styles of Islamic expression, including maraboutism in Morocco (a saint-centred system of ruler-worship emphasizing Sufism), and the Shi'ite scholarly tradition in the Middle East."

The history of Islam cannot be separated from the history of Islamic society. Throughout history Islam created political institutions such as the caliphate and the sultanate. But these institutions were eventually challenged as observers watched political revolution take hold in the dominant colonial Western countries.

This erosion is at the root of the political and social turmoil plaguing the Islamic world today."

Most families in the Islamic world are monogamous, and the practice of polygamy is usually dicated by economic factors and the insistence of Islam to integrate all members of society into a family structure."

The above was all taken from the CBC website.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Currently reading Prince Caspian of the Narnia Chronicles. It's not as exciting a story as I thought it would be. The exciting parts only involve the children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What Kind of Reader Am I?

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you're not nerdy about it. You've read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Book Snob

Dedicated Reader

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

Fad Reader


What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz
It doesn't show on the image, but for book snob I got 75%. That is so true! I don't tend to read books that are on the bestseller's lists. For dedicated reader and obsessive-compulsive bookworm, I'm about 60%. That's also very true b/c I have this petpeeve about breaking the spine of the books I own. Lastly, I'm proud to say that I am only 10% fad reader.

Thanks to Grace Granger for recommending this quiz.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Horse and His Boy, Book 3 in the Chronicles of Narnia

Okay, I just finished reading The Horse and His Boy (HHB) this morning. Bree is so delightfully annoying. He is so full of himself it's absurd! At the same time that I want to smack some sense into him, I also feel like I want to pat him on the back and tell him it's okay to feel inadequate. Most everyone is inadequate and very very few of us are great. Bree just has to get adjusted to the different surroundings and the different animals.

And contrary to my prediction about Bree and Hwin, they don't end up marrying one another. I find it truly hiliarious that Lewis would actually wrap up their story and explain what happened to these horses later on, and point out that they don't end up marrying one another, although they remain good friends. Isn't that just so hilarious? I think so.

I was keeping track of all the topics that I can write essays about. I know there must already be a lot of essays written about these topics, but instead of just passively reading other people's essays, I'd like to write some of my own. Before I do so, however, I'd have to do some more research and take notes. I'll use my blog as my notebook.

1. Narrative Style -
Lewis tells the story like he's a grandfather telling stories to his grandchildren. At some points in the story, it mentions that the story of HHB was actually recounted to the current narrator by characters like Bree and Shasta/Cor. I find the idea of a horse telling stories so hilarious. I'll be using this word a lot whenever I have to refer to Bree. Another thing I thought was worthy to note was the metafictional quality of the narration, such as when Bree debunks myths about horses that were taught to children through fantasy stories. This story itself is a fantasy story.

2. Background to Lewis' knowledge and love of animals - At some points in the story, I get the sense that Lewis would have been a great advocate of animals, especially horses.

3. Feminism as an emerging force in characterization - Hwin and Aravis are both very strong female characters in this book. Perhaps once I've read all 7 books, I will have a more complete picture of the female characters in the series. Perhaps only then will I be able to assess accurately Lewis' treatment of the Feminist topic in his stories.

4. Aravis and Shasta/Cor's characterization

5. Hwin and Bree's characterization

6. Race, the Other, and the Alienization of Persians, Arabs and Anglo-Saxons - This goes back to my very first thought about this book where I asked the question, "Does anyone find the basis of the story racist?" I suppose I should tweak that question so that it reads: What are some instances in the story that portray the Persian and Arabian cultures as the Other? What impact do they have on generating or perpetuating the alienization of Muslim and Christian peoples and cultures? How do they achieve that effect, if there is one? I do not dare to forget that Lewis comes from an educated British background, of which there inevitably would have to be certain facets that colour his view of the people of other nations and ethnic groups, not to mention the different religious beliefs. This colouring is a product of the upbringing and the time period in which Lewis lived. For this reason, I would not dare to call Lewis racist, but at the same time, I cannot read HHB and not see an underlying current of racial tension, subtle as it may be. This is something that I am very eager to explore in the near future.

7. Aslan as God
Some say that Aslan is more comparable to Christ, but the way he was portrayed in HHB, he appears to have more similarities with God. There's a saying that goes, "God works in mysterious ways." This saying came to mind frequently while reading HHB, especially every time the children and horses were being chased by the lion.