1) What do you learn about Islam from the Koran selections you read?
The Koran is the collection of speeches given by Muhammad, the founder of Islam. It is believed by Muslims that Muhammad is not the author of the Koran, but the author was God, Allah, who directly gave the word to Muhammad. The Koran is divided into chapters, or surahs, the selections provided in the lesson were from surah 1, and surah 47.
In the selections of surah 1, it is stated that Allah is the sovereign being. It is straight to the point, it immediately communicates to the reader that Allah is God, who possesses absolute sovereignty.
In surah 47, the author poses that one must believe in, and worship Allah, to attain life. One that does do the will of Allah, will receive freedom from their sins, and from my understanding, his followers will receive eternal life. It states that in battle, if a Muslim is confronted with someone who does not believe, the Muslims have the right to kill the non-believers. It is also stated that those who kill in the name of Allah will essentially be pardoned. Allah is protector of his followers, and those who do not follow him, do not have protection.
Overall, the message I take from these selections of the Koran, is that Muslims are general peaceful people–mainly among themselves. They are permitted by Allah to kill people who do not believe in their religion. The only instances in which they are not peaceful, is when confronted, in a battle atmosphere, with non-believers, or civilizations of non-believers.
2) What kind of person emerges from the Procopius portrayal of Justinian?
Procopius was a Greek-Byzantine historian, who wrote a portrayal of the most well-known Byzantine emperor Justinian (r.527-565). This is the most accurate account of Justinian that we have today.
He begins by describing the physical characteristics of Justinian, not a bad looking guy. Then, goes on to describe Justinian’s personality, in which he made him sound like an easy-to-manipulate, dishonest man; a moron. He describes Justinian as someone that would be difficult to be friends with, he was two-faced, he was deceitful, and he lied. He was described as too ignorant to fully hear out accusations, and too quick to punish. This description does not exactly portray him as someone who would be a good, or even decent emperor, however, he did make significant impact.
Upon gaining the office of emperor, he turned a lot of things around. He changed law codes, he removed old political offices and introduced new ones. He did however, have good ambitions, and he wanted to recapture and unify Africa, Italy, Spain, Gaul and Britain with a single religion, orthodox Christianity. He had some successes in this, but he did not achieve all of his goals.
The kind of person that emerges from the Procopius portrayal of Justinian, is somewhat of a crude individual, however, also an individual with goals and ambitions to help serve his people.