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James Fleming (RELG 373): The Eternal and the Ephemeral, Differences in Mystical Approaches

James Fleming (RELG 373): The Eternal and the Ephemeral, Differences in Mystical Approaches

Though all are considered to be vital to nearly all tariqas, or Sufi lines, the poets and mystics Rumi, Hafez, and Sa’di differ in their views on how the mystic concepts behind Sufism should be approached. This can be demonstrated with examples of their works, which for these purposes include, A son leaves his father(…)

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James Fleming (RELG 373): Can We Have Intoxication in the Holy Space?

James Fleming (RELG 373): Can We Have Intoxication in the Holy Space?

  In Islam there is a complex relationship between spirituality, architectural form, and performative prayer. The latter two may seem to be exoteric aspects of the religion, however, as demonstrated in Sufi poetry there are significant mystical aspects to the architecture of mosques and other Islamic structures, as well as relating to aspects such as(…)

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James Fleming (RELG 373): Rumi and the Paradox of the Moment’s Son

James Fleming (RELG 373): Rumi and the Paradox of the Moment’s Son

Although Rumi’s verse in his work Masnavi is laid out in a very clear manner with simple allegorical structure, the content and the underlying meaning is far from being being restricted to any such manner of superficiality. Each poem is extremely multilayered, with many esoteric truths and mystic knowledge being alluded to. As a result(…)

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James Fleming (RELG 373) Mysticism is Essential to Modern Life

James Fleming (RELG 373) Mysticism is Essential to Modern Life

In the contemporary age, Sufism and the paradigms of mysticism are just as relevant as they have ever been. One of the areas this is most apparent is in religious plurality. At the foundation of mysticism is the realization that all religious paths strive for and achieve the same goals on the mystical path. However,(…)

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James Fleming (RELG 373) Foundational Concepts of a Sufi Worldview

James Fleming (RELG 373) Foundational Concepts of a Sufi Worldview

As Sufism is not an organized religion with a central authority the idea of finding foundational concepts is a difficult task, to say in the least. For example, figures such as Ibn al-Arabi are revered by many as introducing practice and concepts that many would consider essential to the foundation of a ‘Sufi Worldview’. However,(…)

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James Fleming (RELG 373) The Path to Existence: Why the Mystical Approach was Essential to Medieval Islamic Societies

James Fleming (RELG 373) The Path to Existence: Why the Mystical Approach was Essential to Medieval Islamic Societies

There may have been socio-political and societal factors for some, but to the greatest extent the spread of Sufism was driven by a desire to escape the purely mundane and to seek knowledge. As was pertinent to the previous response, mysticism has been important to Islam from the time of Muhammad, however, the Sufi mystic(…)

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James Fleming (RELG 373): Necessity of the Role Model

James Fleming (RELG 373): Necessity of the Role Model

The role of a mentor is essential for the Sufi worldview, for as discussed in class, in this view God is the “first lover” and the most intimate of beings. Therefore transmission of knowledge and practice must be done through contact with another intimate being, just as God revealed the Qur’an to the Prophet in(…)

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James Fleming: The Influence of Faith on Political Concepts in the Lens of Islam

James Fleming: The Influence of Faith on Political Concepts in the Lens of Islam

The matter of how Qur’anic interpretation shapes how modern Muslims should govern themselves is an endlessly fascinating subject. Even though ideas may contrast each other, such as the ideas of Mahmoud Mohamed Taha and Mohamad Shahrour, this does not mean that they are in competition with each other. Rather it is most beneficial to reconcile(…)

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James Fleming: Community and the Hajj

James Fleming: Community and the Hajj

The Hajj is the essence of community in Islam. That is because there is only one Hajj for Muslims of all denominations and regions. Other than the requirement of all Muslims to make the pilgrimage at least once, it is where both Adam, the father of man, and Abraham, the father of the people of(…)

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J. Fleming: Friendship and Forgiveness in the Qur’an

J. Fleming: Friendship and Forgiveness in the Qur’an

With groups like ISIS committing acts of violence in the name of God, the news often portrays Islam as a force of violence. Every surah of the Quran begins the same, “In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.” Muhammad’s revelations are built on God’s mercy and forgiveness. Reading the Quran on its surface(…)

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James Fleming:  The Eschatology of the Qur’an in Daily Life

James Fleming: The Eschatology of the Qur’an in Daily Life

The aspect of eschatology that captures all of the rest is that justice guides every decision that man makes when engaging with others or with God. Even actions that could be considered neutral can also be considered to be not unjust. Every time one does or does not do something it is recorded, as in(…)

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James Fleming: Quranic Structure in the Context of Virtue and Vice

James Fleming: Quranic Structure in the Context of Virtue and Vice

The most significant aspect of the Quranic structure that Izutsu indicates is that good works and piety are defined as things that are righteous, the concepts of good and evil are never established in a framework where the absolute nature of these abstract ideas is fully defined. This is largely because the terminology of the(…)

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James Fleming: Intertextuality, Because We Need It

James Fleming: Intertextuality, Because We Need It

There do not seem to be many things in this sura that cannot be found in other parts of the Qur’an, which is true for many suras. Content is not what drives the word of God but rather when these things are mentioned in relation to one another in their suras and for what purpose.(…)

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James Fleming: The Nature of Nature in the Quran

James Fleming: The Nature of Nature in the Quran

It is interesting to note that although creation, best experienced here on earth through nature, makes up the majority of experiences on Earth, is not the ultimate source of life, but rather God is. Rahman references the Quran in this assessment, “Come hither, voluntarily or involuntarily” (41:11). The laws and mandates do not come from(…)

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James Fleming Relg 272: Muhammad the Prophet and Role Model

James Fleming Relg 272: Muhammad the Prophet and Role Model

The most significant part of the Prophet Muhammad’s role to me is the nature of his presence as a prophet. As is indicated by Rahman other prophets of the Abrahamic traditions, namely Abraham and Moses, were known for performing miracles through God’s permission which demonstrated a connection that they had with the divine. However, in(…)

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Mysticism in Poetry: James Fleming

Mysticism in Poetry: James Fleming

My favorite poems in this selection of Sufi mystics were the Tales from Sa’di because of their ability to encompass many important themes of Sufi beliefs, such as the effort of nothingness in attempt to be a mirror of God’s creation, the importance of wisdom and knowledge, the de-emphasis of materialism, and attempting to understand(…)

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