Theology professor discusses human capacity

By Chelsey Taylor-Vaughn

Amir Hussain, Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University and editor of the journal of the American Academy of Religion, discussed religious ethics and Islamic law with humanities teacher Malina Mamigonian’s Ethics class on Nov. 29.

Hussain showed a clip from Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” that mocked people for overreacting to anything that is Muslim, including Oklahoma banning Sharia Law, the traditional code of Islam. Retired humanities teacher Martha Wheelock laughed as the show mocked people making a distinction between eating under the rules of Halall versus kosher, which are virtually the same with the only distinction being that under Halall animals are killed while saying Allah.

Hussain suggested that people have relationships with animals if they live on the land, but as people become urbanized they lose this connection. He used an example relating to meat preparation and consumption to illustrate this loss of relationship between humans and animals.

“I’m a city kid,” Hussain said. “Meat comes the way God intended — wrapped in plastic on Styrofoam trays. You give me a cleaver and a cow, [and] I have no idea how to kill this animal. You give me a New York strip, I can do wonders with that, but I don’t know how to get from Bessie to the New York strip.”

Hussain discussed the distinction between animals and humans and why humans believe that they are superior, referring to a story from the Quran.

“Animals are better Muslims because the animals can only obey God,” he said. “We tend to think of free will as a good thing but it means we have the capacity to obey or disobey that will.”

“The Quran talks about human beings being the best of God’s creation because we do things that other created things don’t do,” Hussain said.