Course: Introduction to Islam (2020)
Faculty: Nesreen Akhtarkhavari, Necati Alkan
Editor’s Note: What follows is Jeannie Denniston’s Learning Self-Assessment, submitted in August 2020 for the above-mentioned course.
Summarize material learned.
All of this material was new to me. I learned a basic history of the Arabian Peninsula, northern Africa, and the Middle East. My previous experience with world history in the past has been limited to European history. I learned about the culture into which Muhammad was born. I learned the major events of Muhammad’s life that shaped how and to whom he taught. I learned the tenets and beliefs of Muhammad’s teachings and how the Qur’an was created. I also learned what happened to Islam after Muhammad’s death, specifically how Islam was spread and how it split into various groups. There was also information on the impact that Islam made on the world (math, science, art) and the struggle that the religion has faced in modern times.
Summarize skills acquired and improved.
I realized that, at 69, I am still able to read new material and absorb the information, which is crucial in keeping the mind active and alert (I am also still working part time). It has given me the confidence to take on other new information. I am also able to discuss Islam with others on a more factual basis.
Summarize new feelings or attitudes experienced.
I am more open to Muslims and feel that I am more able to talk to them with an understanding of their core beliefs. I have been able to shed some misinformation and minor biases that made me hesitant to discuss the Muslim religion with Christians. It also gave me a great appreciation for the Bahá’í Faith, as I could see a lot of the context leading up to the establishment of our Faith (such as fasting and genuflection during prayer).
Summarize changes in values and beliefs.
I am better able to comprehend the concept of progressive revelation. The jump from Christianity (I was raised Presbyterian) to the Bahá’í Faith was an 1,850-year leap. Understanding the practices and beliefs of Muslims opened my eyes to the progressiveness of God’s revelation, and it seemed more logical for me.
Summarize ways you can apply or use what you have gained in the future, now that the course has ended.
I am looking forward to preparing a simple PowerPoint presentation to provide to local Bahá’í groups to share the history of Islam and the strong connection that it has to our Faith.