1.) As a person of goodwill, explain the necessity of establishing rapport, amity, and concordance among the various religions in Asia and the world; and more specifically among Muslims and Christians in the Philippines. Why is religion a positive contributor towards peacemaking but at the same time can be a source of societal turmoil? In what way can Asian religions transcend divisiveness by standing side by side with other religions, without losing their very own unique creeds or belief-systems? Based on the films about Muslim Filipinos shown in class, please explain in what way Christians and Muslims can utilize their respective religions for peace and harmony in Mindanao? Answer these questions by citing concrete cases to prove your point (30 points).
It is necessary to establish rapport, amity, and concordance among the various religions in Asia and the world more specifically among Muslims and Christians in the Philippines in order to better understand their systematic beliefs, values, and behavior, acquired by people as a member of their society. These patterns are systematic because their manifestations are regular in occurrence and expression: they are shared by member of a group. It is also necessary to build friendship and connection among diverse religions in Asia and the world to build a better society and to have peace in every nation. In such a society it is very important to have harmony and respect amongst the different religions. We must distinguish between belief and respect.
Belief refers to total faith, which you must have in your own religion. At the same time you should have respect for all other religions. This tradition of believing in one’s own religion and having respect for others. In every religion, there are transcendent things that are beyond the grasp of our mind and speech. For example, the concept of God in Christianity and Islam and that of wisdom truth body in Buddhism are metaphysical, which is not possible for an ordinary person like us to realize. This is a common difficulty faced by every religion.
It is taught in every religion, including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, that the ultimate truth is driven by faith. As far as the Muslims are concerned it is appropriate for them to have complete devotion to Allah while praying in the mosques. This is also the same with Buddhists who are completely devoted to the Buddha when they pray in Buddhist temples. A society, which has many religions should also have many prophets and sources of refuge. I want to emphasize that it is extremely essential to sincerely believe in their respective religions. Usually, it is very important to distinguish between “belief in one religion” and “belief in many religions”. Religion is a positive contributor towards peacemaking but at the same time can be a source of societal turmoil because religion is a perennial and perhaps inevitable factor in both conflict and conflict resolution.
Religion, after all, is a powerful constituent of cultural norms and values, and because it addresses the most profound existential issues of human life (e.g., freedom and inevitability, fear and faith, security and insecurity, right and wrong, sacred and profane), religion is deeply implicated in individual and social conceptions of peace. To transform the conflicts besetting the world today, we need to uncover the conceptions of peace within our diverse religious and cultural traditions, while seeking the common ground among them. Traditionally many people focus on how wars and conflicts are seemingly undertaken for religious reasons, or at least undertaken in the name of religion.
A significant problem with organized religion and belief, as this relates to peace and conflict, is individuals and groups often confuse the map (their socially-learned version of reality or culture or religion) with the territory (or ultimate reality). Thus people believe that their personal or subjective version of reality or religion is valid, while other views are invalid. Instead it can be argued that the many maps are different, but possibly equally valid interpretations and attempts to understand the same underlying reality or territory. Asian religions can transcend divisiveness by standing side by side with other religions, without losing their very own unique creeds or belief-systems through banding together in interfaith dialogue, cooperation, and religious peacebuilding.
The first major dialogue was the Parliament of the World’s Religions at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, which remains notable even today both in affirming “universal values” and recognition of the diversity of practices among different cultures. The 20th century has been especially fruitful in use of interfaith dialogue as a means of solving ethnic, political, or even religious conflict, with Christian–Jewish reconciliation representing a complete reverse in the attitudes of many Christian communities towards Jews.
Christians and Muslims can utilize their respective religions for peace and harmony through sharing the main morals and conducts that are for the benefit of humanity and nature. They believe in the same basic morals that are important for people to follow in order to live in peace, harmony, and love in communities with different faiths and cultures. And to through tolerance, respect and cooperation with respect in each other’s religions.
2.) Explain why Islam is considered the “most misunderstood religion”. What are some historical, sociological and cultural reasons that paved the way for a misunderstanding of the true nature of Islam among non-Muslims and even among Muslims? Islam means “submission to the will of God in all areas of one’s life”. Muslim means, “One who submits to God’s will”.
These Arabic words are actually non-sectarian terms if we look at the context of these words in the Qur’an. Can we use the term “Muslim” in its universal implication to include all believers in One God? Can we use the term “Muslim” to any person (irrespective of religions) who strives sincerely to submit to the will of God in his life? [Hint: Consider the Islamic doctrine of Risalah (Progressive Revelation) and the Islamic view of the universality of God’s calling of prophethood] (30 points).
Islam is considered the “most misunderstood religion” because most of the time it is considered as a violent religion and is likely “to encourage violence among believers”. And there is also some outright falsehood for example, “God sent prophets to every nation for their guidance.” But, According to the “Doctrine of Progressive Revelation”, Islam is very universal since it admits that Allah sent prophets to everyone whereas Jews believe that prophets only come from them because they are the “chosen people of God.” Another example, “One of the missions of the Prophet of Islam was to bring peace and unity to the feuding tribes, the Jahiliah or the ignorant Arabs of the pre-Islamic days. This he succeeded in doing as narrated in several verses of the Qur-an”.
The message of Allah were brought by one Prophet and recorded in one holy Qur-an. There is no other Qur-an, or versions or it, or editions which carry different texts. The hold Qur-an is not in the form of Gospels by Muslim saints or ‘ulama’. The holy Qur-an is just the record of the messages of Allah in the Arabic of the period. Translations of the Qur-an may be different in minor ways, but they are not accepted as the holy Qur-an. Only that in the original Arabic is accepted. So there can be no differing text or Gospels or versions which can result in differences in the messages or teachings of Islam. Yet, clearly there are differences, serious differences, so serious that Muslims are divided sometimes into warring sects. One of the reasons that paved the way of misunderstanding the true nature of Islam among non-Muslims and even Muslims are the “media”.
Media is the greatest factor on how people view their surroundings. Somehow, criticizing the Islam brings them more readers/viewers. We tend to judge and generalize things without knowing the exact story behind those issues. Infact, the worl Islam means peace, purity, submission and obedience. In the religious sense, Islam means submission to the will of God and obedience to His law. Yes, we can use the term “Muslim” in its universal implication to include all believers in One God, as well as, to any person (irrespective of religions) who strives sincerely to submit to the will of God in his life because “Muslim” believe that God is eternal, transcendent, absolutely one (the doctrine of tawhid, or strict or simple monotheism), and incomparable; that he is self-sustaining, who begets not nor was begotten.
3.) Write a “reflective synthesizing essay” that answers the following questions: In the future prospect, will the Asian religions move from rhetoric unity and act as one to solve the common problems affecting humanity? As for Asian countries, will they achieve political independence from the clutches of Western neo-colonialism? Is there a need to abandon our cherished worldview and values in the name of development? How will the Asians reconcile their adherence to Asian ethos and at the same time open to the demands of globalization? How will the differing Asian worldviews and religions be properly harnessed to promote nationalism among Asians and global cooperation among countries in the world? (30 points)
Yes. In the future, the Asian religions will move from rhetoric unity and act as one to solve the common problems affecting humanity to have a better nation, to have a respect on one another, to fix the unjust and destructive situations. There is no need to abandon our cherished worldview and values in the name of development but rather preserve it and continue following those values to build a progressive and advance nation. With their differing Asian worldviews and religions they can create different ideas and new innovations but with respect with one another’s point of view, and to accept what other countries have made, to promote nationalism among Asians and global cooperation among countries in the world.
4.) Explain what made Japanese civilization unique in its approach to establishing a pro-active Asian civilization capable of having positive ethical patterns as fountainhead of their development? Explain why it is not just enough to simply support one’s parents for one to be called “filial”; what are therefore the other requirements to be able to truly say that one has completely conducted oneself as “filial son/daughter” to one’s parents? What makes Indian civilization stuck into conservatism? What are some of the positive role that the caste-system plays in Indian civilization? What are also the negative aspects of the caste system to Indian civilization? Explain in what way did Japan show a purposive and planned-out blueprint for development in their history? (30 points)
It is not just enough to simply support one’s parents for one to be called “filial” because we owe our parents a lot- because of them we able to eat three meals a day, sometimes even more. They give us clothes and sometimes the things that are beyond our needs. They send us to school. But more than simply supporting us in the most basic sense of supporting, our parents loves us. It now becomes something different because when we love them back, we do not do so out of indebtedness. We give our love freely, and not as a payment with a certain interest. Most of all, because of this special filial relationship with them that we had since birth, we also respect and obey them. We not only support our parents, but serve them.
The Indian “caste system” made it stuck into conservatism. The positive roles that the caste-system plays in Indian civilization, provides a sense of community and belongingness. And the two main strands of thought: Divine will- the belief that a hierarchical social structure is part of the divine intention for natural order, and the Purity- the need to emphasize the importance of ritual purity and impurity. But there is also a negative aspect of caste-system to Indian civilization. For example, marrying someone from a different caste, whilst not officially outlawed, is generally discouraged. They only lived, ate, and worked within their group. This was based on the idea that people are different and should have different roles. And a person born into one caste never changed castes and very seldom mixed with members of other castes. Castes were unchanging groups but people from the lowest caste were told that they have to serve the other castes so that they can be reborn into a higher caste in their next life.
Courtney from Study Moose