Welcome to Week 5, Section 1, Introduction and Overview to Islam and Ecology where we will discuss formation and figures. Islam is a religion of over a billion and a half people. Here we see the range from Morocco to Indonesia. The differences of culture, of style, of dress is vast, including sectarian differences of Sunni and Shiite and Sufi. Its geographical sweep then is global, ranging from Morocco in North Africa to Indonesia in the Pacific. Indeed Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world with over 200 million people. This cultural expression then we can see in the water here in Indonesia that's so significant and the reflection of the divine in water. Then we go to one of the most famous mosque in the whole Islamic world, the Umayyad Mosque in Syria. The splendor and difference and yet of course the similarities of practice are what we will touch on lightly here. There are nearly 180 million Muslims in India alone and an estimated 50 million in Central Asia. When we took a trip across the Silk Road from China in the West from Xi'an all the way across to Kashka on the border of Pakistan, the varieties of the Muslim world in Central Asia are just stunning. As well in North America and Europe, there are an increasing number of Muslim communities as immigration opens up economic opportunities and tensions with the immigration. Historically, Islamic art then manifests this culture diversity ranging from the architectural forests of the Alhambra in Granada in Southern Spain, a truly magnificent overpowering work. This reflects the period of Convivencia when the three western religions coexisted in relative harmony. This period in Spain is said to have lasted for over six centuries until the Muslim and Jewish communities were expelled in the late 15th century after the Christian reconquest. Here we have the image of the Imam Mosque in Isfahan in Iran. In this ancient capital city, there's this splendid example of Islamic architecture was built in the Safavid dynasty in Persia in the early 17th century, Persia being the ancient name for Iran. It dome is considered an artistic masterpiece and the site is still an important place of pilgrimage. Indeed John and I went there in June of 2005 after we were at a conference in Tiran sponsored by the Iranian government and the United Nations on World Religions and Ecology. We went again in 2005 for a conference again sponsored by the Khatami government, he was president at the time and all of his cabinet, including Madam Ebtekar, a remarkable environmentalist who was vice president and the head of the Environmental Program in Iran. All of these leaders were deeply concerned to reach out to the international community for issues regarding water and drought. The water here in Isfahan had dried up the major river when we were there in 2001. There was only water for eight hours a day in Tehran. Khatami said for them the issues of the environment are even more critical than the conflict with the West. Here in Northern India, we have one of the most iconic architectural displays in the world of Islamic art. This is of course the Taj Mahal, a tomb built by Shah Jahan in the mid 17th century to memorialize his wife, a great tribute to love. Today it is also one of the most visited sites in the world and a UNESCO heritage site. Here you can see the water that is so clear in reflecting the beauty and the intricacy of this magnificent tomb. But behind the Taj Mahal is the Yamuna River, one of the most polluted and degraded in the world. Several years ago, we did a conference on the Yamuna River which brought together the religions of India of Hinduism and Islam valuing this river, but also the scientific community working on how it could be cleaned up and protected. This kind of work with religion and ecology on the ground is something that is happening in many parts of the world. The formation then of Islam begins with this text of the Quran with the magnificent Arabic script, which is an art in itself. All of this magnificent religious architecture was inspired by a vision of a transcendent and unifying God, namely Allah. This enduring vision was expressed by the prophet Mohammad and was recorded in the sacred scripture of the Quran. Two parallel approaches can be used in examining the formation of Islam. The first draws on an understanding within Islam itself, namely that the tradition was revealed through successive profits culminating in Mohammad in the 7th century. In this interpretation, Islam manifests a return to a religion that has an ancient lineage and is embedded in the nature of the cosmos itself. Here we have a picture of the Arabesque that so characterizes these mosques. In the understanding of the Arabic term Islam or surrender, submission, this is not unique to humans as Muslims, but applies to all of creation. According to Islam, all of creations pouring forth its praise of the transcendent creator, Allah, as such even nature as a created being is submitting Allah, thus a comprehensive religious cosmology is at the heart of this tradition. The Quran; the revealed scripture of Islam says the seven skies, the earth, and all that lies within them, sing hallelujahs to Him. There is nothing that does not chant His praises, but you do not understand their hymns of praises. According to Islam then, nature pours out its inherent intelligence and praise of the creator without reflection, whereas the human who has reflective consciousness may not perceive that praise and frequently fails to recognize the transcendent creator. Nonetheless, this radical transcendence of a law is the keystone idea in the whole structure of this religion. Indeed the name of Allah appears over 2,500 times in the Quran. However, Islam prohibited images of Allah or any human person. This is why the mosque of Islam are filled with intricate geometric designs and floral patterns that reflect the beauty and complexity of the natural world. Here we see it within the mosque of the Imam Mosque in Isfahan, the magnificent and intricate floral designs, geometric designs, the calligraphy at the top, mosaics done painstakingly year after year, the colors, the light shining through. These are stunning examples of both transcendence and creation as revealing the power Allah. In the Quran then, all natural phenomena are called signs or ayat that point towards Allah. Interestingly, the verses in the Quran are also called ayat; more on this later, but let's consider two verses in the Quran that illustrate this relationship between God's transcendence, nature as signs of Allah, and human intelligence. Do they not then ponder how the clouds were formed; and the heavens, how it was raised on high; and the mountains how they were fixed; and the earth, how it was spread out. Here is another one. We will show Our signs to them in the horizons of the external world and within themselves, until it becomes clear to them that it's the truth. Is your Lord not sufficient? He is a witness over all things. Nature thus points towards the radical other, Allah, who has created the conditions for interdependence throughout the web of life. Moreover from the very outset, Islam affirms human inquiry and the study of nature in its intricacies and complexities. The presence of Allah in nature is affirmed by the signing or pointing of nature towards its maker. Again illustrated in this magnificent Arabesque. Significantly, and Allah is firm on this point, the divine is not located in nature rather the natural world depends for its existence on the sustaining command namely Amar, and the mercy of God namely Raman. Intimacy and distance can be said to mark this first pathway for grasping the foundation of Islam. Embedded in this approach is a religious cosmology whose implications reverberate throughout the religion of Islam. This religious cosmology of radical transcendence and creaturely dependence establishes a religious ecology encouraging empirical study and respect for nature. For these reasons, science and the investigation of nature came early to Islam. Indeed there was a great flourishing of it in the Middle Ages, and this was passed on later to Western Europe and became the basis for the Renaissance. Yet there are striking historical theological and legal turns in the pathway of Islam that later diminish these orientations to the natural world. We will consider those turns in another lecture, but let's consider a second, perhaps more familiar approach to the formation of Islam, a historical approach. I'm pleased to enter into this second approach which tends to be more historical and it follows from Mary Evelyn's opening remarks which tend to situate formation and figures in Islam within the tradition itself. The tradition sees itself as an eternal religion, a religion which is not simply revealed by Mohammad at all, but rather is a long lineage into early historical times. This second approach as I've indicated tends to locate Mohammad within a historical context. In that sense, we also have to address the question of images in Islam, and especially images of Mohammad. We have two in this presentation, and I simply wanted to say that these come out of the Islamic world itself so that there are moments in Islam when Muslim artists would depict pictures of Mohammad. It's very unusual and in this academic context, we want to acknowledge that and indicate a respectful image here of the angel Gabriel, suggestion of the regulatory moment, and only that a suggestion. This second approach and its historical orientation stresses the founders of a religion and the times in which they were born and develop their religious ideas and practices. You can see where this historical approach stands in contrast to the first approach to Islam that emphasizes that Islam is an eternal or a religion which was revealed in the very processes of the cosmos itself. In this sense, the first approach emphasizes nature was pointing towards its creator long before the earth even existed. This historical approach then focuses on Mohammad Ibn Abdullah born it's thought in 570 of the current era who is known in Islam as a prophet. The term prophet is a much broader concept in Islam than it is in Judaism and Christianity. Islam recognizes a long list of such prophets and refines that list by the further actions of these religious leaders. For example, Mohammad is also considered the last of a long line of warners to whom the message of the transcendent God had been revealed as a warning to a specific people. Another description of Mohammad is as a messenger. You can see how Islam refines the prophetic character and that lineage and the lineage of warners and also lineage of messengers. Mohammad is also called a reciter. That's a significant refinement of this lineage because the message of the reciters is that message which then can be written down. The message as a reciter was a multi-year oral revelation of the Quran. Quran itself indicates a recitation. This revelation, like selected others, was eventually recorded in a book in the Arabic language, thus the Arabic people became a people of the book like Christians and Jews. The Quran, as the literal word of Allah according to the tradition, stood above creation, for it assisted Muslims in their efforts to understand the ayat of nature through the ayat or verses of the Quran. Again ayat refers to signs pointing towards the transcendent divine Allah. For many Muslims, the first Quranic verse revealed to Mohammad was this. Pictured here in Arabic, we have the English translation. Recite in the name of your Lord who created, created man from an embryo; recite, for your Lord is the most beneficent, who taught by the pen, taught man what he did not know. There is a strong affirmation here of the materiality of all creation, namely the embryo origins of the human and the appropriateness of investigating both creation and what has been revealed in the recitation. The call to Mohammad to recite or read what is being written in the Quran is likened to what is written in the heart of all creation. That call is for humans to come into relationship with a transcendent Allah and with all reality. Mohammad reported that he first received his revelations when he went alone into the mountains outside Mecca, generally dated at around 610 of the current era. In solitary nature then, Mohammad first heard the angel Gabriel's revelations of God's words. For 12 years, Mohammad unsuccessfully presented his recitations to his fellow Quraysh tribes people. This Arabian Quraysh tribe was led by merchants who maintained a flow of trade from Yemen into the former Roman world from the South to the North. Most importantly, the Quraysh were also guardians of the Kaaba. The Kaaba, imaged here, pictured here, was a pre-Islamic cubed shape square structure in which a sacred black stone imaged here underneath this hanging curtain, the black stone and images then of the many gods of this region were housed. Mohammad's call for the worship of one God flew in the face of the multiple gods being worshiped. In fact, there was included within the Kaaba an image of a singular divine deity, but it was simply one among other deities. In addition, Mohammad's message upset the Quraysh elders who profited from the lucrative pilgrimage trade that flowed into the Mecca because the Kaaba was located there. In reclaiming the Kaaba, Islam described this site as the place where Abraham was called to sacrifice his son, Ishmael. Early Muslim believers were aware of the Abrahamic story and the Jewish and Christian commitments to an ethos or style of life that was totally committed to following the divine will. Moreover, an ethic or behavior was also motivated by that story that emphasized divine law or in the Arabic context, Sharia, as the integral binding force of the community. During this early period then, the revelation of community law in the Quranic verses was an ongoing revelation. Indeed the earliest revelations from Mohammad's time in Mecca are the more terse and eschatological chapters or surahs of the Quran and placed towards the end of the book. The emergence of community is crucial in the formation of Islam as we see in the move to Medina. The longer surahs, these surahs then composed in Medina begin to address concerns for guidance through a range of issues, including the roles and treatment of women. In 622 then, Mohammad was invited by the elders of Yathrib, later renamed Medina, to come and bring order to their multi-ethnic city. This slide pictures the early House of Mohammad, which is the first mosque, and this House of Mohammad then will be situated within the mosque at Medina, the Central Mosque which also houses the grave site of Mohammad. Because Mohammad felt he was not being heard by Meccans, he agreed to this proposal to come to Medina. This emigration or Hijra begins both the Islamic calendar and the establishment of the Ummah, the Islamic community. This transformation in Islam from simply individual believers to a community, an Ummah marks the birth of Medina in Islam as the religious theological political ideal. Thus, the founding of Islam is marked not by the birth of Mohammad nor by the time of his visions, but by this founding of the community of believers in Medina. It is in Medina that political leadership was woven into social life committed to the straight path or sunnah of the prophet. Islam in Medina became the base from which Mohammad commanded the faithful in battle overcoming the Meccans and establishing this religion in the Arabian Peninsula during his lifetime. Mohammad transmitted the revelation given to him and his life became the exemplar of Islam. The stories of Mohammad's life were eventually collected and became known as Hadith. Again this image from the Islamic world itself pictures Mohammad in his night journey, this incredible moment when Mohammad journey's in a night vision from the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem into the highest heavens. These stories of Mohammad and his close followers, they became a major source for understanding the Quranic verses that articulated law for the community. These stories are considered the guide for sunnah or the straight path leading to the divine. Many of these stories tell of Mohammad's concern for justice in the way lands were distributed for the pasturing of animals. Here we see one of the major collections, the Bukhara Hadith, one of the six major collections, and other Hadith. They tell of the stories of his sensitivity towards animals, and especially the treatment of animals. While we can't say that these are environmentally oriented, these stories gathered in the Hadith that have an environmental implication give us a picture of a religious leader who had to address community interactions with the natural world. The range of community issues in Medina brought Mohammad into consideration of the equal sharing of water among humans, and other than humans, about the needless destruction of vegetation during the war, about his own treatment of his horse as a military leader. One of the most significant Hadith stories tells of his experience of being away from the urban settings of Medina during the times for prayer five times a day. Initially in Mecca, the direction of prayer was towards Jerusalem, but after coming to Medina, the direction of prayer change towards Mecca and the Kaaba. When encamped in the desert at one point, Mohammad affirmed the earth itself as a sacred place of prayer. In one of the six most authoritative collections of Hadith, it is reported that Mohammad said "The earth has been created for me as a mosque, and as a means for purification." In these insights, Mohammad presented a living example of Haqq, namely truth or law. Following the guidance of the Quranic revelation, Mohammad took everything created as having its Haqq or true lawful reality. Consequently, the soil and desert sand of the earth could purify a person before coming into the presence of Allah in prayer. Moreover, the implication for a religious ecology is that there is a need for ethical thought before interacting with nature to determine what it is due. Humans are called then in Islam to interact with creatures motivated by a realization of that Haqq within themselves and within all reality. So central is this understanding that one of the names of God is Al-Haqq, and this term is even extended to the Quran itself, the truth or the true. That is the revelation is law for the community. The challenge then, then as well as now, is for the Islamic community to determine what the scriptures are telling them about a changing world and how to act ethically in that dynamic process.