November 15, 2015.
We will gather together for our Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute faith sharing on Sunday, November 15, 2015 from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm at St. Paul Church in Cambridge, in the small chapel located in the Parish Center. Please join us in person or in spirit as we encourage Inter-faith relations and pray together for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East and especially in the Holy Land.
The Prophet Muhammad received the first words revealed to him by God when he went on a retreat to the Mountain of Light (Jabal-al nur) known as Mt. Hira outside of Mecca in the year 610 CE. For the next twenty-two years he received these revelations and passed them on to his companions and followers. The Qur’an is the collection of these revelations organized according to their length and revered by Muslims as the authentic word of God in Arabic as they were originally revealed to the Prophet.
A science of Qur’anic commentary developed over time that includes how the Surah, or ayat in the Qur’an itself, provide clarification of their meaning, as well as the Hadith, a collection of the sayings or interpretations of the Qur’anic verses by the Prophet himself, and his actions. The foundation for the science of Qur’anic understanding known as Tafsir, also includes the interpretations of the Qur’an that came from the Prophet’s own knowledgeable companions and later generations of scholars. The Qur’an along with the Hadith became the source for Islamic traditions, values and Islamic law. It was important to make sure that the chain of oral transmission of the Hadith went all the way back to the Prophet himself through careful analysis and study. The two most authentic collections are recognized today as Sahih al-Bukhari compiled by Imam Muhammad al-Bukhari (d. 256 AH/870 AD) and Sahih Muslim compiled by Imam Muslim al-Hajjaj al-Naysaburi (d. 261 AH/874 AD) . Sahih means true or correct.
In examples of the Hadith we find sayings that remind us of the Hebrew Wisdom tradition and parables that remind us of the parables of Jesus. Christians know that the Gospels were compiled by the evangelists between the year 70 CE and 100 AD and were written for different communities as they struggled to form their identity and eventually became known as Christians, or followers of Christ. Scholars have identified what are considered the authentic letters of St. Paul and those that were written in his name by pupils and followers. Other letters that are included in the canon of the New Testament were written later to address the needs of individual communities as they matured in the Christian faith. The Christian Bible includes its foundation in the Hebrew Scriptures, the four Gospel accounts and the letters of St. Paul and others, all considered to be inspired by God. Catholic Christians call the Biblical writings, “Salvation History” words that in themselves give us pause for reflection.
We can see by these few paragraphs that there are distinctions and similarities in our two faith traditions and a great deal of study and scholarship. It is not within the scope of this introductory letter to explore the vast history of either the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad or the sayings and parables of Jesus but rather to wonder together how these sayings and parables that have been given to each of our communities are a means of transformation in our own lives. We can find both psychological and spiritual growth through listening to, and reflecting on, the meaning of these sayings of the Prophet of Islam and of Jesus. They have been a source of inspiration for generations of spiritual seekers and followers. Here are just a few.
That person who shall pursue the path of knowledge, God will direct him to the path of Paradise; and verily the superiority of a learned man over an ignorant worshipper is like the full moon over the stars. He who knoweth his own self, knoweth God.
Shall I not inform you of a better act than fasting, alms and prayers? Making peace between one another; enmity and malice tear up heavenly rewards by the roots.
The best of alms is that which the right hand giveth and the left hand knoweth not. The best of almsgiving is that which springeth from the heart, and is uttered by the lips to soften the wounds of the injured.
A young man came before the Rasul with a carpet and said, "O Rasul! I passed through a wood and heard the voices of young birds; and I took and put them into my carpet; and their mother came fluttering around my head, and I uncovered the young, and the mother fell down upon them, then I wrapped them up in my carpet; and there are the young which I have." Then the Rasul said, "Put them down." And when he did so, their mother joined them: and Muhammad said, "Do you wonder at the affection of the mother towards her young? I swear by Him who hath sent me, verily God is more loving to His creatures than the mother to these young birds. Return them to the place from which ye took them, and let their mother be with them." (twf.org examples of Hadith)
Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves; Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give and there will be gifts for you. A full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap, because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.
No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter will see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care, then, how you hear. To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.
At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst and said, “ Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.”
(Matthew 18: 1-5)
At this time we are mindful of the many families of Muslims and Christians who are suffering and trying to escape from war, oppression and persecution in the Middle East. We offer our prayers for all who are working towards peaceful resolutions and offering physical aid. May our interfaith gatherings be a small witness to peace and harmony and good will in our world.
Peace to you.
(See all past Badaliya USA letters posted at www.dcbuck.com)