Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Religion Belief Begging As Spiritual Path

Religion Belief Begging As Spiritual Path Image
I've done some research, and it looks like we are in good company. Turns out begging is an ancient spiritual practice, accepted and respected in many parts of the world. Not only that, but giving to begggars is also a good thing.

HERE'S WHAT I FOUND ON WIKIPEDIA:


In many, perhaps most, traditional religions, it is considered that a person who gives alms to a worthy beggar, such as a spiritual seeker, gains religious merit.

Many religious orders adhere to a mendicant way of life, including the Catholic mendicant orders, Hindu ascetics, some dervishes of Sufi Islam, and the monastic orders of Buddhism. In the Catholic Church, followers of Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Dominic became known as mendicants, as they would beg for food while they preached to the villages.

In many Hindu traditions, spiritual seekers, known as sadhus, beg for food. This is because fruitive activity, such as farming or shopkeeping, is regarded as a materialistic distraction from the search for moksha, or spiritual liberation. "BEGGING, ON THE OTHER HAND, PROMOTES HUMILITY AND GRATITUDE, NOT ONLY TOWARDS THE INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE GIVING FOOD, BUT TOWARDS THE UNIVERSE IN GENERAL." This helps the sadhu attain a state of bliss or samadhi.

In traditional Shaivite Hinduism, old men, having lived a full life as a householder in the world, frequently give up materialistic possessions and become wandering ascetic mendicants (sadhus), spending their last months or years seeking spiritual enlightenment. Villagers gain religious merit by giving food and other necessities to these ascetics.

In Buddhism, monks and nuns traditionally live by begging for alms, as did the historical Gautama Buddha himself. This is, among other reasons, so that lay people can gain religious merit by giving food, medicines, and other essential items to the monks. The monks seldom need to plead for food; in villages and towns throughout modern Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and other Buddhist countries, householders can often be found at dawn every morning streaming down the road to the local temple to give food to the monks.

For those of you who are also following our first project on prayer - Praying For Prosperity - here's a link to A Work In Progress - the next post in that series.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Mystical Face Of Muhammad

Mystical Face Of Muhammad Image
No religion is complete without an ecstatic dimension. Something in human beings wants to keep religion from being simply ritual, purely rational, solely ethical, and only theology. So a corrective eventually expresses itself in the form of mysticism (tasawwuf). Mysticism is not the religion; it is an inescapable element in all authentic religions. As Paul Tillich used to say, ecstasy and mysticism prevent religion from becoming "moralized love and intellectual faith."

Most religious founders combine these dimensions in their love and thought. They emphasize that our relationship to the divine includes both thinking and acting correctly and experiencing God directly.

This was certainly true of Muhammad, upon him be peace. Sufis base their devotional expression and spiritual direction on the example of the Prophet. Muhammad was the original Sufi! They immediately point to his prayer life; his direct encounter with Allah on Mount Noor; his spiritual pilgrimage in his late thirties, which led to his "Night of Power", and finally to his "Night Journey," a classical mystical experience which took him to heaven to talk with previous prophets and into the presence of Allah Himself. The hadith is replete with spiritual wisdom and meditational guides which were as much a part of Muhammad's legacy to his followers as his political and ethical guidance.

Annemarie Schimmel, in her comprehensive book on Sufism, Mystical Dimensions of Islam, relates how surprised westerners are to discover the mystical qualities in Muhammad. She states that the western image of Islam "emerged during hundreds of years of hatred and enmity in the Christian world." From this tradition has come a picture of Muhammad as, at worst, a sword-wielding religious zealot and, at best, a shrewd and sensuous politician. Yet from the beginning Sufis knew him to be a deeply pious and spiritually earnest man, a man who not only desired to bring Allah's salaam to earth, but also experience direct access to Allah.

Sufis provide the "inner dimension" of Islam, the personal esoteric, inward path (tariqa) as compared with exoteric, public, outward Shariah. The former, "God and the person," is the inner essence; the later, "God and society," is the exterior clothing. The former if the "fire"; the later is the "fireplace." Obviously both are needed for a valuable religious tradition. One without the other would be spiritually self-destructive.

Sufism is not, as often stated by westerners, a sect of Islam. It is, rather, a dimension found in and compatible with all manifestations of Islam, whether Sunni or Shiite, no matter what the Muslims are, intelligentsia or peasant, urban or rural....

In summary, faithful Muslims who are not Sufis obey God and believe that God is merciful and will reward them according to their righteous deeds. The goal is to enjoy life in this world and prepare for the world to come. They diligently perform the five pillars and this aids them in "remembering Allah." However, their self-renunciation and abstinence do not go beyond their expected duties and obligations.

Sufis, on the other hand, passionately yearn for God. Their remembrance is total, a struggle (jihad) to be united with Divine Love. The Sufi's goal is not to perform certain rituals and hope thereby to become closer to God; the goal is to be united to God without any mediation whatsoever. A Sufi does not neglect action but sees action as a completion. There is a sense in which Sufis see themselves as "fulfilled Muslims."

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Agnosticism Religious Norms Conference Berkeley 2011

Agnosticism Religious Norms Conference Berkeley 2011 Image

I just started listening to these, but my interest is piqued. There are 9 parts, a keynote and 8 panels - the keynote is near the end of this playlist, which is presented in the order of the program below the video.

Religious Norms Conference Berkeley 2011


Description: The Religious Norms in the Public Sphere (RPS) international scholarly network will analyze the call by people of all faiths for greater recognition of religious norms by governments, legislatures, and schools.It is a joint initiative of iGov and the Robert Schuman Center. It has been made possible thanks to the support of the Partner University Fund, the Carnegie Foundation and the Social Science Research Council.

Opening Remarks: Heddy Riss, Olivier Roy, David Lieberman.

Religious Norms and Public Spheres: The Challenge

Chair: David Lieberman

Olivier Roy: "Muslim Democrats vs. European Populists"

Silvio Ferrari: "A European Perspective"

Peter Danchin: "Islam in the Secular Nomos of the European Court of Human Rights"

THE DEBATE OF ISLAMIC NORMS IN ARAB COUNTRIES


Chair: Hatem Bazian

Enrique Klaus: "Scandals in Egypt and the Manufacturing of Religious Norms in the Public Spheres"

Belkacem Benzenine: "The Challenge of Secularism in the Political and Religious Spheres in the Arab World"

Discussant: Charles Hirschkind

THE DEBATE ON RELIGIOUS NORMS IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE



THE CASE OF EUROPEAN COUNTRIES


Chair: Leti Volpp

Poland: Genevi`eve Zubrzycki: "Debating the Place of Religious Symbols in the Public Sphere in Poland, 1989-2010"

UK: Matthew Francis: "Return? It never left. Exploring the 'sacred' as a Resource for Bridging the Gap Between the Religious and the Secular"

France: Val'erie Amiraux: "Burka Bashing in the European Union: the Racialization of Muslims"

Romain S`eze: "Standardization of the Exercise of the Islamic Religious Authority in France"

Christian Joppke: "Limits of Restricting Islam: The French Burqa Law of 2010"

Discussants: Prof. Sarah Song, Berkeley Law

NORTH AMERICAN COUNTRIES CASES


Chair: Ron Hassner

USA: Pasquale Annicchino: "Mosques Controversies in the U.S.: Emotions, Politics and the Right to Religious Freedom"

Canada: David Koussens: "Catholic Rituals and Symbols in Government Institutions: Juridical Arrangements, Political Debates and Secular Issues in Quebec"

Discussant: Sr. Marianne Farina

ASIAN COUNTRIES CASES


Chair: Pradeep Chhibber

Sophie Lemi`ere: "Cracks in the Mosaic: The Rise of Right-Wing Ethno-Religious Groups in Malaysia"

Marco Ventura: "You Shall Go to Hell: Legal Arguments on Forced Conversions Before the Supreme Court of India"

Discussant: Nargis Virani

KEYNOTE LECTURE


Ebrahim Moosa "Norms in the Madrasa-Sphere: Between Tradition, Scripture and the Public Good"CONCLUSIONS PANEL: "How to face the Challenge of Religious Norms and the Public Sphere?"

Olivier Roy


Naomi Seidman

Ebrahim Moosa


Marianne Farina

Imam Faheem Shuaibe


PARTNER UNIVERSITY FUND'S "TRANSATLANTIC NETWORK OF SCHOLARS ON MUSLIMS' RELIGIOUUS IDENTITY, SECULARISM, DEMOCRACY, AND CITIZENSHIP" PRESENTATIONS

Chair: Mahan Mirza

Elise Massicard: "When heterodoxy Challenges the Public Place of Religion: The Case of Alevism in Turkey"

Munir Jiwa: "E Pluribus Umma: Secularism and the Mediation of Islamic Norms"

Soraya Tlatli: "The Separation of Cult and State in Colonial "Algeria."PUF PRESENTATIONS CONT.

Jo Gardner: "Religious Nationalism and the Westphalian State"

Alexander Rosas: "Diversification of the Republic: Cultural Diversity in Contemporary France"

Sheherazade Kahil: "Institutionalization in France of the pilgrimage to Mecca"

Mary Hoopes: "Asylum Claims Before the Federal Courts of Appeals: Considering the Role of Religion"

Akasemi Newsome: "Immigrants Before German Administrative Courts: Do Islam and Gender Matter for the Application of Foreign Legal Regimes in Germany?"

Zehra Sahin: "The Diyanet -Program of International Theology: Adjustment to Western Norms or Aggiornamento from Inside?"

Tags: Religion, Norms, Conference, Berkeley, 2011, Religious Norms in the Public Sphere, iGov, Robert Schuman Center, Carnegie Foundation, Social Science Research Council, UC Berkeley, Olivier Roy, Naomi Seidman, Ebrahim Moosa, Marianne Farina, Imam Faheem Shuaibe, Mahan Mirza, Pradeep Chhibber, Sophie Lemi`ere, Marco Ventura, Nargis Virani, Religion, society, public sphere, Politics, law, ethics, Islam, Charles Hirschkind, Muslims, Asia, Europe, North America, Heddy Riss, David Lieberman, Arab countries, Europe

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