Friday, 4 March 2011

Egypt’s Religious Future

The political unrest in Egypt that resulted in the removal of long-time leader Hosni Mubarak has also left the country’s religious future in question. Will a new leadership include the voices of Coptic Christians, the largest minority population? What will the outcome be of the latest revolutions in other Islamic countries such as Yemen and Libya?

Daniel Alvarez, M.A., M.T.S., Florida International University
Cyra Choudhury, J.D., LL.M., Florida International University
Amanullah De Sondy, Ph.D., University of Miami
Fr. Timotheus Soliman, St. John the Baptist Coptic Orthodox Church

Thursday, 3 March 2011


Rabbi David Hartman on Religion

Professor Karen Mathews came to speak to my Intro to Islam class at the University of Miami on 'What is Islamic about Islamic art?'

This excerpt taken from Demystifying the Middle East By Ivette M. Yee

"Mention the Middle East and Karen Mathews gets excited about the region’s artwork. The UM art history lecturer teaches “The Art and Culture of Early Modern Islamic Dynasties.” Through the study of dynasties such as the Safavids in ...Iran, the Ottomans in Turkey, and the Mamluks in Egypt, her students learn how these empires used patronage of art and architecture to impress their subjects and rivals. Thus many of their cultural achievements manifested themselves in architecture and the decorative arts. Moreover, “the art of the Islamic world is some of the most beautiful and powerful that I’ve seen as an art historian, and that’s what I share with my students,” Mathews said. “This is artwork that many wouldn’t ever see otherwise.”

The Islamic art examined in Mathews’ course includes metalwork, ceramics, wall paintings, tomb architecture, and intricate textiles and jewels. Each medium has much to say about the society’s class structure and historical events, said Mathews, and the topic is an area of research that continues to attract scholars.

It attracts students, too, and exposes them to a whole new world of art. “I absolutely loved the class,” said student Elizabeth Fregien, “and the material was very different from what we art-history majors are used to studying.” The course offered some broad revelations as well. “Probably the most surprising thing I learned is how early and often the Islamic/Eastern world had contact with the Christian/Western world,” she added. “The interaction resulted not only in political exchanges but also in cultural advancements on both sides.”"

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Justin Antweil on Sufism

One of my students taking the Introduction to Islam course here at the University of Miami, Justin Antweil, very creatively wrote a poem expressing his conclusion and analysis of Sufism. A proud teaching moment for me!

The Islamic culture contains Sufi poetry
I must read this or I may not get my degree
I’ll also talk about Muslim music
This will be more informative than a chick flick

Sama is a component of Sufism
This is simple, it’s not Darwinism
Sama literally means the word audition
The music and melody allows Muslim views to come into fruition
It’s a type of meditation focusing on musical melody
Using instruments and mystical songs which are holy

There are three components to the audition
They are: Right time, place, and brethren
One must be in the spiritual mood and mystical state
Otherwise God won’t be able to determine your fate

In the British Forum for Ethnomusicology by Leonard Lewisohn
There is a comparison that sets the perfect tone
Music constitutes the poem’s emotional body of water
Without music the poem will expire on dry land and falter
I hope this method was a unique way of entertaining you
This was my much anticipated participation debut