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Making sense of islam with tarek Elgawhary

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Episode 17: Islamic Spirituality, pt1

One of the richest traditions Islam has is its spiritual tradition, or Sufism as it is more commonly known. In this 5 part series I introduce the richness of this tradition from a bird’s eye view perspective and offer some practical tools in later episodes that I have found to be tremendously useful in all aspects of my life.

Episode Notes

3:52 the hadith of Gabriel as a framework for the Islamic sciences
8:02 this hadith explains the entirety of religion, which contains these four categories
8:41 “islam” in the hadith is about correct actions or orthopraxy
9:18 definition of the Shari‘a as a human enterprise
12:05 definition of “iman” (faith) and orthodoxy
15:34 definition of “ihsan” or spiritual excellence
16:49 signs of the Final Hour and eschatology
19:35 eschatology as part of theology within the Islamic intellectual framework
20:17 Islam’s spiritual tradition and the importance of personal experience
24:02 How the Islamic sciences developed after the Prophet’s time
25:40 the hadith of Sulayk as an example of plurality in interpreting the Quran and Hadith
37:02 the diversity of Islam’s spiritual tradition
46:13 why this series is important and what we’re not going to talk about

 

Selected Links
Nostradamus
Zoroastrianism
Hinduism
Buddhism
Manichaeism
Zarathustrta
Vedas
Peripatetic philosophy
Tahafut al Falasifa
Tahafut al-Tahafut
Neil DeGrasse Tyson on al-Ghazali
School of M’arifa

 

Quran Mentioned
“Our minds cannot comprehend God”, 6:103
“Nothing is like Him”, 42:11
“People that belief in the unseen”, 2:3

 

Hadith Mentioned
The Prophet was given eloquence of speech, Muslim
“No harm and reciprocal harm”, Muwatta’ of Imam Malik
Gabriel hadith, Muslim
“Destiny is whatever hits you was meant to hit you”, Ahmad and Abu Dawud
People wearing musical instruments on their ears, Nisa’i

 

People Mentioned
Sayyida Nafisa
Imam Shafi
Ibn Arabi
Al-Kindi
Al-Farabi
Ibn Sina
Ibn Rushd
Mulla Sadra

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One of the unique features of Islam as an intellectual system is that it possesses a mechanism for renewal and revival within itself. This mechanism is the instrument of ijtihād- independent legal reasoning- that allows a trained and licensed jurist to develop new rulings and judgements for situations that are unprecedented, nuanced, and, in a way, of a troublesome nature. There is a lot of literature within Islamic legal tradition that explains the vast contours of ijtihād. Familiar discussions outline the common set of must-know legal rules and principles, interpretive tools used to unlock meanings within the primary texts, and auxiliary disciplines needed in order for one’s ijtihād to be effective and within the broad limits of orthodoxy. These are standard in any work that discuss the instrument of ijtihād. There are other discussions, however, that one comes across from time to time that shed a little more light on the phycology and mindset behind the person engaging in ijtihad, namely the mujtahid. One interesting description, courtesy of Imam Ghazali (d. 505/1111), is the need for the mujtahid to have vast amounts of creativity. The more creativity a mujtahid has, the more creative thinking they can bring to bear on a particular issue, the better they will be able to come up with right solutions and right answers; especially solutions that will last the test of time. To be creative in this context, therefore, is to think outside the box and dare to be innovative. It is to ask the right questions, not just memorize standard answers.

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