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HINDUISM (Indus valley civilization)

Hinduism is considered to be the most ancient religion on earth. It originally comes from the
Sanskrit word for Indus River (Sindu). It is not only a belief system but also includes the people
and the culture (Similar to Judaism, the only difference is that they had a divine image). For
Hinduism, the sacred is not a superhuman but an impartial cosmic spirit, a belief known as
Pantheism. Pantheism is the idea that the universe is sacred and there is an oneness of spirit, but
the worship of this one spirit was through a multitude (several) of Gods, these Gods were
perceived (originated) from the divine. There is a saying in Hinduism: "truth is one (divine), but
the wise call it by many names (Gods)".
Hinduism is based on a group of sacred texts called the Vedas, considered sacred knowledge; it
includes their prayers, their sacrificial formulas and their hymns. Some of their Gods include:

Indra and Rudra/Shifa (Gods of the skies)

Agni (God of fire)
Vishnu (God of sun)

Some of their sacred texts contain 250 pose commentaries of abstract form, known as
Upanishads, and were orally transmitted, they include the Vedas

The official job of the Vedas is to teach worship through prayers and sacrifice.
The Upanishads emphasized enlightenment through meditation (Example: Yoga).

The truth for them is Brahman, a cosmic force, infinite, formless, impersonal and unknowable.
He is the uncaused cause and the ultimate reality; they believed he is in each and every one of us.
He is the self or Atman. Meditation allows individuals to achieve unity between the two
(Brahman and Atman).
Hindus anticipate a succession of life, what they call the return of the Atman (the self) in a
physical form. This physical form could be animal or human, and is determined by the level of
spiritual purity that the person has achieved at the moment of death (Theres accountability in
Hinduism; a person is rewarded/punished according to his actions). If you're good, you come
back as a human, if not; you come back as an animal.
The Law of Karma:
What they believe is the collective spiritual energy gained from accumulated deeds and actions
which determines the physical state of the person in the next life (like adding points).
Reincarnation is the faith of Hindus until they achieve Nirvana (The ultimate climax, the
extinction or release of the self into absolute spirit). Through Nirvana, Hindus are liberated and
absorbed into the spirit. Their most popular religious writing is the Bhagavad-Gita (Sound of
God), based on the longest epic poem in history.

Originally the Shiites (a big sect in Islam) got divided in two sects:
1) The Twelvers (Al Ithnaashariyya).
2) The Seveners (Al Sabiya) or the Ismaelis.
They were based in old Cairo. They were part of Shiites faith. The Fatimids were Ismailies, in
1021, Al Khalifa Al Hakim (a Fatimid Caliph) disappeared at that time (he was believed to be
kidnapped). In Ismaeli doctrine he was not only the Khalifa but the divine leader and the
guardian and the giver and the guide of the faith. He had claimed that he was the incarnation of
the divine himself. From that started to grow up a cult of Al Hakim (Cult: the belief in a person)
of which the Druze faith is a continuation of.
The name Druzes originates from Al Darazi, who was the first one to proclaim the cult publicly.
He made Al Hakim a spiritual leader and a supernatural being. Then later on came Hamza Bin
Ali who gave a form to the new faith, by stressing that, Al Hakim was identical with the divine.
He believed that the divine has always been present in the world through a series of past
incarnations of which Al Hakim was the last. Al Hakim was the one who would initiate
judgment day.
Hamza Bin Ali considered in a way, denigrated the prophet Mohammad and Imam Ali Bin Abi
Taleb as teachers of false doctrines. Therefore, the Druzes were persecuted as Heretics (people
who do not believe in the Ismaeli sect God and Islam) and then fled Egypt to the mountains of
Lebanon, Syria and the area (Wadi Al Taym/Jabal El Druze/Houran).
The Druze had scriptures of their own, 111 pastoral letters, known as Rasael Al Hikma. They
believe that both the Bible and the Koran are inspired books. With time they became a much
closed and secretive community with their own laws. They did not believe in conversion of
religion, also they do not allow outside marriage, and their most principle doctrines were kept
secret. The Druze does not know their secrets until they are 50 to 55 years old, to be sure that
they are mature enough and wont convert.
The basic moral codes in the Druze religion consist of 7 commandments enunciated by Hamza
Bin Ali of which the most important was to always tell the truth.
Dissimilation in Druze faith was permitted in case of danger or threats or in any hostile
environment (when you are faced with the threat of death). But once the threat is gone, you go
back to your original faith.
The Druzes also believe in reincarnation.

Islam is the religion of the followers of the prophet Mohammad. It means submission, surrender
and commitment to God. In the 7th century AD Mohammad received revelations and he asked his
fellow Arabs to submit or surrender to the will of God.
Pre-Islam is the period known as Al Jahiliya (that period was only known through poetry). We
call it Al Jahiliya because we have no idea what kind of life they had. The Arabs were tribes or
nomads (people who settled in the desert). Islam came and united the tribes and nomads (Islam
as a uniting force). It created a new calendar (Al Hijra calendar) that marked the start of a new
historic period.
These days 1/7 to 1/6 of the world population follow Islam. The largest Islam country is
Indonesia, second comes India (of course theres Pakistan, China )
Mohammad born somewhere between 570 - 580 AD grew up with his uncle Abu Taleb and he
married a very wealthy widow called Khadija who was older than him. She bore him many
children but none of the males survived. Between the age of 30 and 40, he received his prophetic
call, the appearance of angel Gabriel who asked him to recite the word of God. He was scared in
the beginning thinking he was possessed or that he was becoming insane, but later he became
convinced that he was chosen like the prophets before him.
After that he started to preach, reforming and prophesying. Initially he was bitterly and strongly
rejected by his own people, the very powerful tribe of Quraysh, and when his uncle died, he was
forced out of Mecca (he was allied with the Jews and Christians at that time) and traveled to the
city of Yathreb (Al Madina Al Mounawara). And thus started the Islamic calendar known as the
Hijra calendar which is eleven days shorter.
Mohammad is represented in the Koran as the seal (last) of prophets. According to developed
Islamic thought, God in his mercy gave prophecy to Adam to show his followers the proper way
but his guidance was ignored and man became corrupted and lost, so God deemed it necessary to
send another prophet to renew this prophecy among them Noah, Abraham, David, Jesus the last
in which was prophet Mohammad with his divine book the Koran, he is considered to be not
only the last prophet, but also its confirmation. He expected support from Jews and Christians
but later they rejected him.
The Koran (sacred book for Muslims) is composed of the revelations to Mohammad. In the old
days, it used to be recited. It is the foremost authority for Muslims in all matters of faith and
practice. It is approximately the size of the New Testament. It is divided into 114 chapters; each
one is called Sura bearing the name taken from something mentioned in it. The Second Sura
(Surat Al Bakara/The Cow) for example talks about a slaughtered cow (the Sura held its name).

Each Sura starts with "In the name of god" () . Some of the names go back
to the Prophet Mohammad himself. 29 of them have some mysterious and unexplained letters of
the alphabet, which became object to a lot of commentary.
The Suras were further divided into Verses or Ayat. Aya means, sign that is the evidence of
God's existence which include not only revelations but also natural phenomena. Example: the
miracle of life
THE SHARIA (The Islamic law)
This is simply the path that god wants man to walk. It is the standard of right and wrong in
human affairs. It provides an inclusive scale of religious value for conduct. Every human deed or
action falls under the perspective of the Sharia (law) without exception.
The actions in the Koran are classified as:
Fard (Obligatory)
Mandoub (Recommended)
Mubah (Indifferent actions that brings neither reward nor punishment)
Makrouh (Reprehensible, not punishable necessarily, but disapproved of)
Haram (Forbidden)
It is therefore a complete pattern of human conduct considered the most complete for Muslims.
These are considered external signs that show one's loyalty to the community and his desire to
fulfill the will of god.
1) Al Shahada:
There is no God but the one God and Mohammad is his prophet. If it is said publicly, it is
enough to gain an individual recognition as a member of the community. (If you say it
three times in front of a religious leader they consider that you have converted to Islam)
2) Al Salat:
Five times a day. At dawn, midday, mid-afternoon, evening and after nightfall. They do it
while facing Mecca. Salat in Islam is preferred in a community but also valid on a
personal basis (if a Muslim prays alone). The most important prayer is on Fridays which
usually is an assembly in the Mosque (Masjid) led by a religious leader (el Imam) who
talks about subjects that concern the community and the people (political, social )
Summons to prayer are given by the Muaddin calling from the Minaret.
3) Al Zakat (Almsgiving)
Charity work, its a payment which is very important by believers who are required to
contribute a fixed percentage of his property or income for the poor and the needy. In
todays world, states and governments are creating laws and institutions for this purpose.
4) Al Sawm (Fasting)
The idea is to clean your body, purify the soul. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims
refrain from all food and drink during daylight hours (from dawn to sunset). There is a lot
of recitation of the Koran and prayer during the month of Ramadan. Travelers, pregnant
women, sick people (who do not have physical strength) and manual laborers are usually

exempted from fasting. At the end of Ramadan there is obligatory feasting (Al Fitr) it
goes on for several days. During Al Fitr, Muslims visit each other, they exchange gifts
5) Al Hajj (The pilgrimage)
When Muslims visit the holy shrines of Mecca and Medina and especially Al Ka'aba. It is
where the black stone is (it existed in pre-Islamic times, specifically to the days of
Abraham and Ishmael). It is the holiest place for Muslims on earth and every Muslim
should go to Hajj at least once in his lifetime to visit the black stone. The Ka'aba is
around 15 meters high. Several ceremonies take place during Al Hajj which includes
special dresses. It also includes circulating the Ka'aba seven times and kissing the black
stone. There is also the climb of Jabal Arafa to see where Angel Gabriel gave the
revelations to Mohammad. On the way down, they pick stones and throw them around as
a symbol of chasing evil spirits away. On the 10th day of the ceremonies, a sacrifice of an
animal takes place. Following the end of the Hajj period is the Adha.
After the death of Mohammad Islam was left without a successor, therefore the succession came
first to (the enlightened Caliphs)
1- Abu Baker Al Siddiq (he expanded Islam)
2- Omar Bin Al Khattab (he was assassinated)
3- Othman Bin Affan (he started moving the center of power away from Mecca towards
Damascus and Baghdad, he also got assassinated)
4- Ali Bin Abi Taleb (married the daughter of the prophet) (Shiites of Ali).
Ali Bin Abi Taleb was challenged by the Mouawiya Bin Abi Sifyan (ruler of Damascus) saying
that he should be the 4th Caliph. They met outside Aleppo in the battle of Siffin, neither one
could win, so they called for an arbitrator to decide. Because Ali accepted arbitration, parts of his
followers grew very angry (the Shiites). One of them ends up assassinating him (there came the
schism in Islam).

They became called Al Khawarij (Which has ended now).

Mouawiya then became the founder of the Umayyads (Sunnis).
Imam Hasan became the leader of the Shiites. He was believed to be poisoned. Then
came Imam Hussein, who dies in a huge battle in Karbala by Mouawiya's followers
(Sunnis) they attacked Hussein and his family (60 of his people) in an uneven battle.
From there came the Ashoura. (They feel that they didnt protect him, thats why they
feel his pain nowadays)

The Shiites were split into two sections:

1- The Seveners are the minority; there was disagreement on who is the 7th Imam.
2- The Twelvers believe in a series of 12 different Imams, the last of whom has disappeared.

The Sunnis themselves were also divided:


Al Shafeis
Al Hanafis
Al Malikis
Al Hanbalis

Islamic mysticism. Sufi comes from the word wool, the clothes worn by the first Sufis as a
uniform of protest against the worldliness (moving away from religion) of Islamic society under
the Umayyad dynasty. Its most mystical character was based on the cultivation of ecstasy of the
intimate union with God.
Sufi theory was based on two directions:
1- The Sufi theorists (what they talked about) the stations (Maqamat) and states (Ahwal).
These two were very important to the mystical process towards the union with god.
The Maqamat are reached through the mystics own disciplined efforts.
The states are graces given by god when the mystic has reached the end of
his own spiritual ability.
These two experiences end up in the experience of Al Fana'a (extinction) in the reality of
God, the mystic is instinct and his soul is in union with the Necessary Being (God, like in
Hinduism/Nirvana). And even beyond that into the still more valuable experiences of Al
Baqa'a which is a form of subsistence in the divine through living in the phenomenal
2- The creation of complex metaphysical and cosmological schemes to explain the relation
between the divine and the world. These Sufi philosophies spoke of a symbolic relation
between the ordinary world and a higher realm to which it points.
IBN TUFAYL (1105-1183)
He was a Muslim philosopher, doctor, physician, and scientist. His ideas on Sufism were clearly
show in Hay Bin Yakzan. He talks about a story of a man who matures from infancy on a totally
deserted island and is able to achieve the highest intellectual and spiritual awareness. Soon
enough he comes face to face with a gentleman called Asal who is coming from a traditional
society. Ibn Tufayl concludes that mankind in general cannot escape orthodoxy and ritualism.
Ibn Tufayl took in regard all sufists to be elite philosophers (This was an elitist philosophy).
1- Sufism is a reflection of anxiety and impatience with life on earth in the middle ages.
2- Knowledge in Sufism is gained through meditation and indulgence in understanding the
truth. Internal (through the self) vs. external (though the Mosque/Assembly).
3- A continuous search and quest for the truth.
4- Sufism is a spiritual experience led by the heart since the mind alone is unable to reach
the truth. The mind they believe is very important and we trust it but in itself its not
5- Body and soul dualism.
6- No importance for the material things in life.

7- Sufi way to faith vs. their way to faith.

8- Knowledge is acquired and not innate or given to us (it is not born with us).
9- Isolation is fought with knowledge of things and especially of the truth (the Necessary
NB: Number 7 is very important it symbolizes order and perfection. In this case it is a symbolic
number of years where man is able to go from one phase of life into another.
Hayy Bin Yakzan was born and his parents put him in a wooden basket and put him at sea. He
ended up in a deserted island. No one on the island, Hayy was brought up by a Gazelle. Soon
enough the gazelle dies. From his curiosity, he opened her up to find whats the cause of death,
he finds the heart and he saw that there was heat coming from the heart and that this heat is going
upwards. He reasons that the case of death is the departure of a vital principal in the heart, this
leads him to think that the body is an instrument of a life supporting principle (Dualism of the
body and the soul) without which the body is nothing.
He walks around the island and one day he saw a fire breaking somewhere. He takes it to his
cave and kept it alive. He realized that the fire radiates warmth and points upward. He related the
fire to the life supporting principal (he remembered the gazelle). He later killed an animal and
compared the warm heat with the flame. He recognized that what gives unity to the body, in spite
of different body parts, is the animal spirit that uses the body as an instrument.
By his 21st birthday he knew how to cook, dress, use knifes, build refugees and domesticate
animals. He then started looking around at everything (motion or motionless) he saw that these
things moved alike or contrary, they are similar in things and different in others. He realized that
the need for food was a function of the animal spirit. From seeing these things around him, he
concluded that the body is a three dimensional extension (meaning the body is made of matter
extension and form). He realized that if a body changes (if a matter receives different forms) this
implies to the presence of a giver of forms, but he realizes they are all produced which convinced
him of the existence of a producer.
On his 28th birthday, he started looking upward into the sky and realizes the stars and comes to
the conclusion that the sky and everything in it is material. Since it has length, width and depth
(3D), he came out to the conclusion that the sky is spherical in shape, composed of different
spheres. Because of the distance (Up there, down here). He started believing that there is a
necessary being who is the creator of all other beings who is freed of all physical qualities and is
unreachable to the senses or the imagination. He sees him as superior.
When he reaches his 35th birthday, he is completely absorbed with the necessary being. He wants
to find out how he came to know him. He could not know him through the senses alone, so he
must have come to know him through something else which is the soul (the only thing he thinks
is not corruptible). He now starts to understand that in order for him to perfect his soul; he needs
to use his reason constantly. If one does not use his reason, he believes the soul becomes nothing
after death. He tried to concentrate fully on the necessary being but he kept being distracted by
his necessary needs.

He understands that to reach what he wants to reach he has to emulate (Imitate) the actions of:
1- Imitate/Emulate Animals
2- Imitate/Emulate the heavenly bodies
3- Imitate/Emulate the necessary being
Emulating the animals
Preservation of the animals is necessary for him. He decided that he should not eat animal food,
because he would have to kill them, so he started to look at food in a different perspective. He
looked at:
1- Plants and vegetables
2- Fruits
3- Meat
He was convinced that this type of food was made by the necessary being, and each one of these
have intended purposes, He thought that the best thing for him to do was not to eat altogether,
but he also realized he cannot survive without food, so he decides every time hes going to eat a
vegetable hes going to plant its seeds. Or whenever vegetables are out of the sun he will put it
back in the sun, he will help the animals. He decided that he cannot stop eating completely and
decided to eat his subsistence (just enough to survive).
Emulating the heavenly bodies
Celestial bodies were pure, brilliant, and luminous. They had a link between the upper world and
the lower world (connection). They were circles (Sun, moon). He believed they were in relation
with the Necessary Being and they were under his will and under his command. So he decided to
imitate those, by washing himself, cleaning his teeth, nails, clothes until he himself started to
shine with vitality, beauty, cleanliness just like the stars. Now more important, he started to
emulate the celestial bodies, he started with all of his power to walk around the island in circle,
then run faster, making his path smaller every time (around the island, around a rock, closing it
in) until he started to do circular motions around himself. This is when he realized that he was
losing contact with the sensible world around him.
Emulating the Necessary Being
Hayy started to concentrate his thoughts on the necessary being and isolating himself totally
from the sensible world. As his spinning increased, everything around would disappear, his
imagination will weaken and fade away gradually and so would all the faculties that depend on
his body, until he would be able to see briefly the Necessary Being. He was disappointed because
he couldnt stay longer in this state because his physical needs would snap him out of it. He
started to really practice perseverance in a way to stop eating for several days. He becomes
happy when reaching this state, so he would keep himself in this state as long as he wished and
would only come back to attend to his bodily needs. In time it became easier to reach that state
and attain it.

Then, a gentleman Asal comes to the island. Hayy was terrified of him. Hayy introduces Asal to
Sufism. Asal then became like Hayy he asks him to come see their way. Hayy was extremely
disappointed because people were very materialistic. He tried to preach Sufism but people
rejected him, in their society man resisted change, he also realized that in their society there was
sin, indulgences. He concludes at one point that heaven was for him and hell was for them
(Destiny and fate). Asal agrees and decided to live with Hayy on the island.
KNOWLEDGE IS ACQUIRED and doesnt stop but it increases and improves in Sufism, and
it is derived from:
1. Observing and realizing (animals how they acted, plants etc)
2. Discovery by chance (knowledge by accident) as happened with the fire and with the
gazelle when she died.
3. Knowledge by imitation and emulation from animals, celestials, Necessary Being
4. By necessity: to protect himself, tools, subsistence of food (eat only what is needed to
remain alive).
5. Knowledge by Trial and experimentation: fire heart of the gazelle killing an animal to
see relationship with the gazelle autopsy of the animals.
6. Through Comparison, measurement and conclusion: length, width, depth, things that are
three dimensional, body composition, the animal spirit (autopsy)
7. Intuition, the presence of the Necessary Being (reason alone is not enough).
1- Destiny and Fate (Heaven was for us (Rational religion) and hell was for them (Mass
2- Search and quest for the truth (like in Oedipus)
3- Role of the hero (he helped animals and plants. He preserved what the necessary being
4- Reward and punishment.
5- Role of reason.
6- God/man relationship (focusing on the necessary being and only him)
7- US Rational religion vs. THEM (mass religion)
Rational religion (for them seek God and seek
him alone)
Tries to know God
Man can know God
Religious truth open to all
God can be known through human reason and

Mass religion is a social religion assembled by

doctrines and ritual.
Wants to serve him
Man must know God
Offers the truth to some
God is known through revelations (based on

The three great civilizations profound historical foundations to the bible.

First civilization (Babylon)

The bible is inspired by the first civilization, discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, found by two
shepherds which include the Torah in the Old Testament (five Books)
Discovery of the Black stone, discovered by Nomads but they destroyed it, because they thought
there was gold in it (Seeking gold)
Babylon attacked the Jews, there started the Jewish exile, they became slaves but the
Babylonians were liberal, so the Jews were free to maintain their religion, they kept their
religion, they were free to write (Thats when the Old Testament was written).
There was exchange of cultures; the bible contains information about Babylonian culture (The
architecture, rituals )
The Jews were impressed with the written code of Hammurabi, these were the first laws written,
and theses laws affected the ten commandments of the bible.
Second civilization (Assyrian)
The Assyrians were tyrants and invaded the Jews, It was the strongest civilization at that time,
before the Roman civilization appeared, and they left tablets that confirm the stories in the bible.
(Women didnt have their rights back then).
Third civilization (Sumerian)
We can notice the story of the flood in Gilgamesh which is similar to the story of Noah, and in
the story of Gilgamesh we can notice similarity between the serpent who grabbed/stole the plant
of youth from Gilgameshs hand and the serpent representing evil in Adam and eve. Likewise
Utnapishtim and his wife were the only survivors of the flood living in the Garden of Eden
similar to Adam and Eve.
Important discoveries as the wheel and the solar calendar were founded by the Sumerians at that
time. Also they developed a way of writing which helped in the process of writing the Bible.