Friday, December 28, 2012

RIS 2012 notes 3

Mufti Mustafa Ceric
(as usual I came in late, and I took less notes)

The Delicate Balance

1. There must be balance between reformation and conformation. Truth and justice, faith and good deeds, tasdiq and tajdid. No tajdid without tasdiq.

2. When you fly in an airplane, you'd want a pilot whom you do not have to know who he is, but you can trust in him.

3. Ikhtiar - freedom (of religion) to choose what's right, but not wrong.

4. The advent of Islam brings a revolution in mankind. "laa ikraaha fid din".

5. Prophet's last sermon:
- no superiority of an Arab over non-Arab except by your moral credibility
-no racial discrimination
-we are born free with no sins
This is Islam's breakthrough.

6. We have to protect 5 values of an individual, regardless of who he is:
-an-nafs, life
-ad-din, religion
-freedom
al-mal, property
-dignity

7. We need to know how to earn a living and how to live.

8. When there is no water, a ship does not move, but when there is water inside the ship, it also does not move.

9. Suggests men should also have chaperons, their wives.





Habib Ali Al-Jifri
When The Prophet is Mocked

1. We need to cultivate beautiful patience in ourselves.

2. Be careful not to propagate offences (in expressing anger or refusal). Through people protesting, more people become aware of what you are protesting again, which could be a bad thing. eg. defamatory film is unknown until you decided to share it via media and the film garners more views.

3. We should not mix between demanding rights of the prophet with our own demand of rights. The way you stand up for the prophet might give him a bad name.

4. Be self-critical but not self-flagellating.

5. Other negative things like burning bibles, speaking falsely, killing, injustice is a greater offense than a film full of lies. Know which offences are greater and which ones are trivially provocative.

6. Prophet sent to perfect nobility of character. Defend him in a prophetic way. Do not speak of him in an emotional way using "my prophet", he is "the prophet". We should live the reality of the message that he carries to the world. Live as you are, not as how others want you to believe.

7. The believer isn't someone with a foul mouth and coarse tongue.

8. The prophet when faced with enemies even guarantees them with protection no holds barred.

9. Prove insulters they are liars by letting them see something else in you. It's your responsibility.

10. If you find yourself wanting to express anger, you have to struggle with yourself. The strong man is the one who can hold himself in the moment of anger. Turn anger into righteous anger by transforming yourself for the better.





Abdal Hakim Jackson

Imam Al-Qarafi and the Islamic Intellectual Tradition

(I came in a bit late. Yeah I got lazy on the last day and skipped a lot of lectures. There was one by Syakh Abdallah bin Bayyah which is about Sacred Law, but I didn't go in for that one and I'd wished that I had).

1. Differentiate between law and fact.

2. You derive laws from fuqahas, but the fuqahas may not know the facts. You know the law from the fuqaha, but to implement it in a realistic way, you need people who know the facts, the reality of the world the law is to be implemented to.

3. The limitation of fiqh is that there are things in life that will be regulated on the general principles of syariah, but there is no hokum on judging those things on judgment day.

4. Example, there is no such thing as an Islamic speed limit. These things are determined based on factual assessments based on the good of the community.

5. Difference between secular and secularism: secular - this worldly, secularism - there is nothing to consider but this world. Islam is okay with secular, but not secularism.

6. We tend to give syariah a false limit. We can engage in secular logic to determine certain regulations, eg safety.

7. When you don't understand fiqh, you make all issues fiqh.

8. What is the correct view of mazhabs based on customs of sahabahs ? When custom change, are they rendered defunct ? Do we have to make new rulings based on new customs ? Al-Qarafi: Holding on to rulings although customs change is an open display of ignorance religion and a violation of consensus. This is not legal relativism because things mentioned in the Quran that are haraam are still haraam, such as zina, but there are aspects of syariah that are based on customs. eg. in Al-Muwatta', if  a man says triple divorce to his wife, it is considered divorce. Al-Qarafi: this is based on custom, not Quran or Sunnah.





Syed Hossein Nasr
Umran: Reviving the Spirit of Civilization

1. The word civilization is often perceived as singular as an attempt to Westernize the muslim mind as the singular civilization or the word civilized is often associated to the Western culture. It instills the idea of progress that there is only one civilization - Western.

2. Islam is the first civilization to produce thought on civilization, by Ibn Khaldun.

3. No civilization is not rooted in religion. A civilization is created in the presiding idea that it is divine. However the Western civilization now imposes the divorce of religion from civilization. The spirit of civilization comes from the spirit of the religion that created it. The source of this spirit is the Quranic revelation.

4. Tauhid means oneness and integration, and the Islamic civilization is the manifestation of this concept through many aspects, music, art, architecture, calligraphy, textiles, patterns, etc.Multiplicity leads to unity. Why does it manifest this way, because it is the raison d'etre to assert life of laillahaillallah.

5. We come from one and return to one, we cannot escape from this inherent oneness.

6. When we revive the spirit of tauhid within us, we can revive the spirit of civilization.

7. Spirituality consists of faith and intellectual. Faith is immersing oneself in the reality of God, and intellect is applying revealed principles.






Zaid Shakir
(this was the last talk I heard, I didn't stay around for the finale. I went out to have halal beef burger with some friends :p)

1. Islam is confident in itself. It never perceived itself as inferior, and it does not falsely perceive superiority by belittling other civilizations. Muslims were confident.

2. Huntington mentioned in Clash of Civilizations, the threat to civilization is the Sino-Islamic threat. At apex of Islamic civilization, they were in partnership with the Yuan Dynasty.

3. Islam assimilated the best of civilizations to produce distinctive characteristics of Islam, in which at its heart is the concept of tauhid.

4. Physical world is not separated from the metaphysical world. zaalika kitabu la raiba fiih. Those who believe in the unseen and make efforts to understand the unseen is the heart of our civilization and our faith.

5. It is mentioned who are th mu'minun, the first mentioned is the believe in the unseen. The physical and unseen are both emanations from Allah. No separation between the sacred and the mundane because both come from Allah. Ethics is not separated from science. Allah has ordained excellence and beautification.

6. Ibn Battutta was recognized as a scholar anywhere he went. At that time, Islamic civilization was one common unbroken realm, defined by common institutions, common methodology and common worldviews.

7. We need to revive epistemology, methodology and curriculum to cultivate unity.

8. For that we need certain foundations:

- we need to recognize the pervasive hegemonic, material and physical manifestation of Western civilization.
nowadays, even the things that we can't see has physical reality, eg radioactivity

-and that force is a powerful one. why?
Another name for dunya is 'aajilah which means quick and accessible. Which means that it is very quick and accessible to physical manifestations. The akhirah's other name is aajilah which is something that you can't see right now, in contrast to the dunya.

9. If we don't realize the value of reviving epistemology, methodology, etc, there is no motivation. We have to realize the importance of Islamic civilization foundation and manifestation.

10. We have to appreciate the humanities such as theology, philosophy, logic, otherwise there is no means to revive.

11. We have to understand that the fate of the community is rooted in that revival.





Self-reflection/comments

So this concludes our RIS note-taking saga. Just to note: they do mention some Quran verses, but I didn't actually search for them before posting this, but it is searchable, and I highly recommend to myself and you (whoever who reads it, if there are actually anybody who reads this) to do so. Some of my romanized Arabic terms might not be accurate, I apologize for that, I have left the academic study of the Arabic language for years now. There are some terms that I wrote it as it is, so for those who don't understand you can look it up, and I stand corrected if I ever I used the term wrong. The reason why I put up these notes is for preservation sake, I tend to lose them, and I feel that it is nice to have an open discussion. Sharing things, thinking about it, checking it, assessing it, debating about it, and talking about it is constructive behavior, I believe and a positive intellectual culture. I really appreciate it if people could give feedback, and I know my memory's patchy here and there, I might not remember everything as accurately, so it's always good to check.


Secondly, another thing that I'd like to note is the perception of this conference itself, and generally my personal observation of what people perceive when going into this conference, and because it is merely my opinion doesn't necessarily make it true. So, honestly, I went to this convention in first year, basically just for the fun of it, to hang out with friends and they have a bazaar with lots of abayas, halal food and books. I guess it's also for the experience and the fact that I didn't go anywhere out of Toronto. I pretty much enjoyed it, I loved sitting next to a friend of mine whom I could happily discuss what we got out of the talks with. Fangirling over Tariq Ramadan, lol. (Although I feel a bit guilty fangirling over him, because I know that's probably not what he intended the people who hears his talk would behave. He doesn't want you to clap while he's talking because clapping is emotive. He wants people to be thinkers, and listen to what he actually says instead of reactively emotive). I didn't write down notes last year and I don't really remember, so it's really hard to compare in an academic sense of how it was back then and now. This year I went in, also because a friend of mine is going, but this time around I was determined to write notes so that I can actually look back to it and get something from it. The whole term has been stressful for me, and although I was reluctant to go because I already went last year, I still went on ahead, it wouldn't hurt to hear people talk about religion once in a while. So, I went in, treating it more as an informative session, i.e. I might learn something. Well, I have to admit some of the talks were pretty light, in fact, I think a lot lighter than last year's because last year they were speaking about governance, and of course with Hamza Yusuf's you're bound to get all the facts thrown at you, which I particularly enjoyed and regretted not taking notes back then. This year it was a lot more focused on self-change. It was a bit short of what I bargained for, but I kind of told myself, well, I had a hard year, it's good to have something light, but at least also in some way informative, I'd have to say I wish they put in more facts and go in depth, but then again, maybe if I'd really wanted to go in-depth, I'd read the speakers' books or something, which was why I bought Syed Hossein Nasr's book this year. Then, I'd reconsidered hmm, perhaps this conference is to pique interest or at least it has to be light and easy as a baby-step intro to compassionate, community-oriented Islam to people who are new to this, or it could be just some meet muslims all around the world kind of event, but I'm pretty glad that something like this was being organized, otherwise I wouldn't have known Habib Ali, Abdal Hakim Jackson and all these scholars. Someone actually made me think what the motivation for this conference was, well I could easily have checked the website and got my answer there, but I'm sure that if I'd ask different people, they'd have different motivations for going for that. Well, I alone had many different motivations which changed during a short course of time from friend -> shopping benefits -> info -> intro -> and who knows. Some people go in with the "usrah" mindset, so they prefer talks about self-help-oriented and dislike "heavy-weighted" talks that hint of secular issues like politics (although, honestly even the political-themed talks this year was very light and doesn't really touch on the actual political issues, but it was just a preaching to get your priorities right when approaching these issues). And I'm not suggesting all usrah-minded people are like that, and yes, you may have your preferences, I have no qualms with that, but my point is, I'm actually glad RIS has a range of issues. Such that it is not only centred on the self (although this year it is a lot more so than last year) and avoids becoming just another "usrah" party. There's stuff like philosophy, history, politics. I'd hated those three things, but I can appreciate their importance, and when I give it a go, they are actually interesting, and I do feel that, RIS is trying to promote a muslim intellectual culture, while also offering, okay, in words of a certain individual "invoke" religious motivation in a person. I feel that one way to promote intellectual culture is to have a well-rounded or diverse interest in different fields, even if you can't find yourself to like all fields, at least give it a go, or know what's going on, and I do believe interest can be cultivated, especially when most of the talks do mention that we need muslims who specialize in these different fields. I do have to admit I was a bit disappointed with Karen Armstrong's talk because I felt that she could have delivered more of her expertise had she talked on a different topic, like I mentioned, akin to her book that I half-read, but it also kind of disappoints me when people say things like "I don't like her talk because I can't "feel" it when she talks about Islam because she's not muslim." Not exact words, but sort of implies that way. I guess some people just like learning about religion in the usrah surrounding, but I love learning religion in the academic surrounding, which I feel, personally, is more fair and intellectual than in an usrah. I don't want to go on criticizing usrahs, and I have to admit I am biased against usrah, which I will explain if I have to, or if I am compelled to in another post, but I will leave it at that. So yeah, for this lengthy paragraph, my point is, people go in with different intentions and take home different messages and cultivate different perspectives. What I put up in my blog posts is what I got from my perspective, (although I do feel my notes feel a bit usrah-y, but can't be helped, I am certain it's more usrah-y this year than last year) so other people might actually write different things or write the same things in a different way. I try my best to stay true to what the speakers say, but you know, I might've left out some things and heard it differently.

So, as commentary on day three's speeches. Okay. I have to admit I skimped on this the most, but here's what I think so far.

Mufti Mustafa Ceric's speech was of course as entertaining as his first, and it's pretty good about the way he talks about social justice. It's easy to follow. The funny thing right at the end was his commentary on women having to have chaperons everywhere they go for "protection", and he mentions that Khadijah, a woman, was the first muslim, so in all fairness, he suggests that men should have chaperons too, their wives, for "protection", but of course a different kind of protection, if you know what I mean.

I did go to Yasmin Mogahed's halfway, people are crazy about her, but to me she's a poet. Her talk is mostly about consoling hearts who feel low in their lives, who need a motivational boost, so I wasn't too crazy about her as other people are, but I have to say I respect her as a wordsmith. Her book was also on sale and was sold out, I took a look at it, but it was basically a compilation of her blog posts, I think, on the surface, and I figured being the stalker that I am, I think I've read most of what she posted on her blog.

Habib Ali's just hit home. Every time I see someone get worked up on FB, that includes me, I should be reminded of that. FB just makes it easier to sensationalize trivial issues and you'd go all out and become keyboard warriors for Islam. It's a good reminder.

Abdal Hakim Jackson's was the most interesting of the day, it kinda made me want to read this Imam Al-Qarafi's books despite not really being interested in the field of jurisdiction and legislation. And his statement of the secular versus secularism, I kind of already know inside what the difference was, and I needed that reaffirmation, and I guess I just needed someone to talk about it. At the mention of secularism in Malaysia people stare daggers at you.

Syed Hossein and Zaid Shakir spoke on the same thing about civilization. I've heard the term Islamic Civilization gazillion times, from youtube videos, from Sejarah textbooks, from Islamic Studies during my Taylor's time but usually I just brush it off, but when I heard it again, it was kind of interesting of how they mention that the civilization is a manifestation of tauhid. It makes me imagine a show on discovery channel talking about how the patterns symbolize a certain theological meaning. I don't know if there really is such a show as of now, but it'd be really cool if there such a discussion of the topic.

So you see, it's not so much that I'm not aware of the intellectual role that we have to play as youths that is constantly being reminded of during all the talks, which sometimes I feel is a waste of time in which they could actually fit in more facts, but then again, it is the REVIVAL of Islamic SPIRIT, so I guess, suited to their audience, they kinda have to do that, and if I'd wanted the in-depth facts, I should go to the books. But my point is, I'm more interested in knowing the facts that they throw about and I guess that is my way of responding to said call for youths to play an intellectual role. I like to know things, and it makes me feel that I'm putting myself to use when I know things, even in a trivia sort of way.

So, yeah. I guess that's all for the RIS saga 2012. I should probably go somewhere else next winter. It's not that I'm deterring you from going for it, I highly recommend it though for the experience, but be prepared to face the deluge of people, and be warned that if you're looking for facts, like me, you're better off reading the books, but if you just want to do something for the holidays, or you want to go for something that makes you think, RIS is a good start, plus, go for the bazaar as well, lots of books, clothes and food food food. Oh glorious food. Okay, till then.

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