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Claire Kotarski: Poetry Response

Claire Kotarski: Poetry Response

In “Spiritual Journey,” by the 13th century Persian poet Rumi, the speaker romanticizes and impatiently awaits death because they associate dying as means to return to God. The poem opens with a hierarchy of beings: “I died as mineral and became a plant/I died as plant and rose to animal/I died as animal and I(…)

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Claire Kotarski: Islamic Art

Claire Kotarski: Islamic Art

Overall, Islamic art enforces divine unity. It is serene, and not smothered by raw emotion. The pieces in Rice have primarily decorative purposes, but some pieces (such as the prayer beads) have practical use. Even the rings on display, which carry verses of Quran, are worn by Muslims for blessing and protection. The majority of(…)

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Claire Kotarski: Form, Performance, and Spirituality in Mosques

Claire Kotarski: Form, Performance, and Spirituality in Mosques

The mosque is the ultimate representation of the intersection between Islamic artistic forms, performance, and spirituality. The physical form of the mosque is highly symbolic. The top level is the dome, representing the divine. The second level contains a hectagonal structure, both personifying the angelic world and referencing the hadith stating that paradise has eight(…)

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Claire Kotarski: The Gunpowder Empires

Claire Kotarski: The Gunpowder Empires

During the early modern era in Europe, three major Islamic empires emerged. The Ottoman Empire and Safavid Empire (which ruled in Persia and Afghanistan) set the stage for our modern conception of the Middle East, while the Mughal Empire ruled in India. With these three empires came a cultural renaissance and an expansion of Islam(…)

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Claire Kotarski: Islamic Values and Vices

Claire Kotarski: Islamic Values and Vices

Morality deals with the private life, instructing Muslims on what they ought to do with respect to their worldview. Overall, the macro perspective of Islamic morality is to act accordingly to the best of what is revealed to you. Muslims will be rewarded according to the best of their deeds and ability. We are presented(…)

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Claire Kotarski: Key Features of the Islamic Worldview

Claire Kotarski: Key Features of the Islamic Worldview

Muslims have a dynamic and unique worldview: one based on the three dimensions of islam (activity), imam (having faith) and ihsan (a focus on human intentionality). Jurists, philosophers, and Sufis are all designated to focus on one of these three dimensions. To the convenience of Muslims, Islamic law and ethical leaders have clearly outlined one’s(…)

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Claire Kotarski: The Foundations of Renaissance Under Abbasid Rule

Claire Kotarski: The Foundations of Renaissance Under Abbasid Rule

Muslim scholarship contributed immensely to the discoveries of the European Renaissance. The Abbasid caliphate greatly encouraged piety and patronage to the arts and sciences. Under Abbasid rule, Baghdad took over for Medina as the center of religious activity and intellectual growth. What began as a search for a deeper understanding of sacred texts spurred a(…)

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Claire Kotarski: Maryam’s Morals

Claire Kotarski: Maryam’s Morals

Sura Maryam is unique in many respects. Often cited as a feminist text, it is the only chapter of Qur’an with a woman’s name as a title. Maryam also provides us with strong arguments for Islamic morals. From the text, one can gather that many actions are valued by God, including but not limited to(…)

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