Discovering the Humanities
Discuss the role of the mosque as serving as the “umbilical cord” of Islamic civilization and the different social, political, religious and social purposes that it served
The origin of Islam can be traced to Arabia and some of the practices adopted by Muslims can be traced to the culture of Arabs who used to live mainly in the desert. During this era, the traditions and ways of life and worship were passed from one generation through the use of drawings, poetry and narratives from teachers and elders. Mosques played a crucial role in the preservation of Islamic culture and passing of teaching to future generations. The mosques served as a common ground where Muslims could meet to listen to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) who stressed a lot on the value of education. The mosques thus served as schools and a common place for worship and dissemination of information concerning various issues. (Sayre, 2015)
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) equated the regular visit to the mosque to learn to pilgrimage which is a major pillar in Islam. The mosque where the prophet worshiped had some unique features that have shaped modern society. The mosque was open to all people both Arabs and non Arabs and anyone who wanted to enquire about Islam was welcome. Also, there was a common room for all to worship rather than the practice being used currently where women pray differently and are not allowed in the men’s area. According to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) the mosque was a place to socialize, to celebrate and a hospital for soldiers wounded in wars. (Sayre, 2015) The major contribution of the prophet’s mosque to Islamic civilization was the fact that it was a place whereby the illiterate would learn to read and write. The mosque was a major educational institution and this has led to the preservation of the many hadiths which were used by the prophet. The mosque would also function as a war room where battle strategies were discussed and established.
Prophet Muhammad was also a political leader and conducted the successful invasion of Mecca and other parts of Middle East. The army of believers who followed and practiced the Prophet’s teachings can be traced all over the Middle East. It was in Mecca that the first mosque was built formally and the design was largely motivated by the Prophet’s courtyard. It was during this era that Islam spread out wide and far because people viewed it as a freer and welcoming religion. This is because of the fact that whenever the army of believers conquered a territory, they allowed the local to continue to practice their religion without fear. The conquering of Byzantine and Persian armies was a great relief to many especially the citizens who had been heavily taxed by their governments. However, the conquering of regions by Prophet Muhammad was aimed to spread Muslim rule and Arab culture rather than Islamic faith and this has continued to affect world peace. (Sayre, 2015) A good example of this is the conflict being witnessed in Nigeria between the North which is occupied mainly by Muslims and the Christian’s south.
Describe the Reformation, its aims and objectives and discuss how religious art has changed
During the 16th century, a new wave of change was taking over Europe. During this period, the Catholic Church enjoyed huge following. However, some people were dissatisfied with some of the practices being adopted by the church and this led to the formation of the Protestant Reformation group. Some of the great leaders who spearheaded this revolution were Martin Luther and John Calvin. The approach of the Catholic Church to deal with sins was raising controversy since it was against the teachings of the Christian faith. Martin Luther held the view that the death of Jesus Christ on the cross was the only way to salvation contrary to the practice being adopted by the church of selling indulgences. (Sayre, 2015) Indulgences acted as a free ticket to get one out of hell to salvation. Luther questioned the ability of the Catholic Church led by the Pope to sell these free tickets. The sale of indulgences had led to massive corruption and abuse of powers of the Papal office which deviated a lot from the Christian faith.
In 1957, Pope Leo who was came from a wealthy family wanted to built a church and he decided to sell indulgences to raise the money and poor families would use their life savings to buy these tickets with the hope of a happy afterlife. This move did not settle well with Martin Luther who was a devote Christian. This led him to come up with 95 complaints which are currently known as the 95 theses to critique the corrupt activities of the Church. The general view of the theses was to critique three main vices being adopted by the church. He aimed to inform fellow Christians that the pope had no authority over purgatory and the sale of indulgences was contrary to teachings of Jesus Christ and a threat to individual salvation. Luther argued that “if the pope does have power to release anyone from Purgatory, why in the name of love does he not abolish Purgatory by letting everyone out?”(Sayre, 2015) In another example, Martin Luther argues that “”Indulgences are positively harmful to the recipient because they impede salvation by diverting charity and inducing a false sense of security. Christians should be taught that he who gives to the poor is better than he who receives a pardon. He who spends money on indulgences instead of relieving want receives not the indulgence of the pope but the indignation of God.” (Sayre, 2015)
This led him to attract huge followings across Europe and the 95 theses were being posted on many Church doors. The Protestant Reformation was founded which deviated from the controversial teachings of the Catholic Church. These differences that occurred during that period still define the way of worship adopted by both the Catholics and Protestants. These differences are cultural and still form the basis through which worship is structured with the Protestant Reformists being open and flexible compared to the Catholics. The Reformation revolution led to mutual benefits especially since it led to the re-organization of the Catholic way of worship to the commonly agreed notion that it is only through grace, reading the Bible and practice of the teachings of Jesus Christ that one is guaranteed of salvation.
Name and describe the main contributors to the scientific revolution with special regards to the achievements of the empirical method, heliocentrism, the telescope, the microscope and the individuals who contributed to these achievements. Also, discuss Hobbes and Locke’s contribution to this era
The period between the 15th century and the 17th century was a defining moment in understanding the complex relationship between religion and science. For many years before this era, religion and the faith in a supernatural being was the answer to all the supernatural things that were happening. It was not until the enlightenment period that people started to question the answers that were being provided by religious beliefs. The discovery of gravity by Isaac Newton marked the start of intellectual change in Europe. However, the church was not welcoming to these people who believed that the earth and everything was more physical and material rather than spiritual. (Sayre, 2015) Scientific innovations were hindered by the church which held firm beliefs in religion and spiritual solutions. Philosophy pioneered by the works of Plato and Aristotle was also met with lots of resistance since it provided contradicting beliefs to what was being taught by the church.
However, science had been in existence for a long period of time especially amongst the Egyptians and Babylonians. Egyptians applied empirical methods in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Rational theories to explain different phenomenal were first used by Thales of Miletus (a Greek) who said that every event was caused by something and did not happen randomly. Other scientists such as Galileo who first proposed Heliocentrism, Roger Bacon and Ibn al-Haytham made significant contributions in advancement of science. Between 17th century and 18th century, Europe was experiencing rapid urbanization and this brought about a new group of scholars and free thinkers who proposed great theories to explain different aspects of humanity and the universe. The discovery of the microscope led to a major leap in medicine and biology since the cell later came to be identified as the origin of life which was contrary to the religious view held by the church. Galileo’s telescopes view that the earth was round and in circular orbit of the sun led to his imprisonment by the church that was of the view that the earth is flat. (Sayre, 2015)
Political and social theories were also being formed and the social contract theory by Thomas Hobbes influenced the current United States of America Constitution. Hobbes proposed the formation of a central government who would act as custodians of the people’s interests. John Locke’s who proposed free thinking which was not tied to instilled views can be appreciated for the religious tolerance being enjoyed today. According to Locke, reason was the only religion that he wanted to be identified with.
Despite the many hurdles placed by the church to discourage scientific advancements and free thinking, great scientists rose to reject the mediocrity and simple solutions which were being proposed by the church. The current societies are shaped by their great innovations which have led to better understanding of different phenomenal.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Sayre, H. M. (2015). Discovering the Humanities (3rd ed.). London: Pearson.