Christian and Muslim Perspectives
Publication Year: 2013
Prayer: Christian and Muslim Perspectives is a rich collection of essays, scriptural texts, and personal reflections featuring leading scholars analyzing the meaning and function of prayer within their traditions. Drawn from the 2011 Building Bridges seminar in Doha, Qatar, the essays in this volume explore the devotional practices of each tradition and how these practices are taught and learned. Relevant texts are included, with commentary, as are personal reflections on prayer by each of the seminar participants. The volume also contains a Christian reflection on Islamic prayer and a Muslim reflection on Christian prayer. An extensive account of the informal conversations at the seminar conveys a vivid sense of the lively, penetrating, but respectful dialogue that took place.
Published by: Georgetown University Press
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Participants and Contributors
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This volume presents a record of the tenth Building Bridges seminarfor Christian and Muslim scholars, on the theme of ??Prayer,?? con-vened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, andheld at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, MayFollowing an established pattern, after an opening day of public lectures,the second and third days were spent in private sessions. This volume followsthe structure of the seminar closely. The preface draws on comments made...
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In a sense it is true to say that Doha is the seedbed for the BuildingBridges enterprise over the years. The success of the seminar held here inApril 2003 encouraged all those who took part in it to believe that it waspossible, desirable, and indeed necessary that the conversations we hadbegun should be continued. In the years that have passed since then theBuilding Bridges seminars have built up a very distinctive style, involvingworking together, studying sacred texts together, and above all learning to...
PART I: SURVEYS
Lived Prayer: Some Examples from the Christian Tradition
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The Long Search, a world religions documentary series, included anepisode focused on Christianity in which the host, Ronald Eyre, askeda Benedictine monk, Father Miguel, ??What is prayer??? They were atthe monastery of Montserrat, surrounded by pilgrims lighting candles,attending the services, singing hymns, and kissing the image of the VirginMary long revered there. The pilgrims were also laughing, enjoying the sunand picnic lunches outside the monastery church. The host observed that it...
A Qur'ānic Theology of Prayer
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...??HeistheLiving One. There is no God save Him. So pray untoHim, making religion purely (sincerely) for Him?? (40:65).1 Thisverse may be said to sum up the basic theological attitude towardprayer in Islam. Prayer directed to the one true God is the logical concomitantof the fundamental tenet of the faith, that of tawh.??d: there is no divinity butthe one God,la? ila?ha illa??Llah. Praying to God and eschewing all other would-be partners is to make religion pure (ikhla?s.), purifying it of shirk, belief in and...
Muslim Prayer in Practice
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Prayer in Islam is understood in at least three different ways, witheach linked organically to the others: (1) s.ala?t (ritual prayer), (2) duhalfringleftsuperscripta?halfringrightsuperscript(personal supplication), and (3) dhikr (prayer of the heart, recollec-tion, or remembrance of God). All three forms and the manner in whichMuslims have practiced them derive from the Qurhalfringrightsuperscripta?n and the Sunna (theEssentially meaning to pray, glorify, and bless, s.ala?t occurs in the Qurhalfringrightsuperscripta?nin1. All God?s creation in the heavens and the earth perform s.ala?t. God...
Christian Prayer in Practice
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All forms of prayer necessarily involve particular practices,whether brief or extended, complex or simple, alone or in common.However, from a Christian perspective, practices only make sense,spiritually and theologically, as explicit realizations of something more fun-damental?our relationship with God. For this reason I want to begin witha few theoretical remarks. There are different Christian traditions with dis-tinctive emphases, but what I will say reflects my own Western Catholic...
A Muslim Response to Christian Prayer
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Irecall that on one occasion my mother, a pious Muslim who grew upin a town in central Anatolia in Turkey, asked her professor son the basicquestion, ??Do Christians pray to Jesus??? with a tone of puzzlement and,it must be said, impending disapproval. Her difficulty stemmed from thinkingabout her own daily prayers and supplications to God?forehead on theground or hands raised toward the heavens?and what it would be like todirect those prayers to Jesus. For any Muslim, the substance of prayer consists...
A Christian Perspective on Muslim Prayer
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Whenever one talks about prayer, one is treading on holyground, and that is particularly the case when one is speakingabout others? prayer. One has no access to that secret space inwhich God and the believer encounter one another most intimately, andthere is certainly no question of making judgments. In this chapter I hope toshare some observations about my experience as a friend and admirer ofMuslims who pray, particularly the insights that have been prompted by...
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After the great intellectual and spiritual nourishment of the day,it is a little difficult to boil things down into a few minutes at the end.But I have five words that I have picked up from today?s discussion, onThe first word is friendship. The point was made this morning that ourcommon ancestor in faith, Abraham, is called ??God?s friend,?? and that thereis in all our reflection about prayer a crucial and central element of thinkingabout what it is to be a friend of God. In a text from the Gospel of John...
PART II: PRAYER AND SCRIPTURE
The Lord’s Prayer
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...5And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand andpray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen byothers. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6But whenever you pray,go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and7When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for...
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...7The way of those upon whom You have bestowed Your favour, not of those whoOne cannot speak about Su?rat al-Fa?tih. a without speaking of prayerbecause the Fa?tih. a is used in every act of al-s.ala?t, the Muslim formalprayer. Every Muslim who recites her five daily prayers recites theFa?tih. a seventeen times a day. If one prays the Sunna or supererogatory pray-ers, the number of recitations may be even higher. The Arabic word fa?tih.ameans ??opening.?? The Fa?tih. a is an opening for the Qurhalfringrightsuperscripta?n because it is the...
Prayer in the Spirit in Romans 8
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...1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2Forthe law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin andof death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do:by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, hecondemned sin in the flesh, 4so that the just requirement of the law might be...
In Reverence of the Almighty: Understanding Prayer and Worship in Qur'ān 3:190–94 and 29:45
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...190Indeed in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of191These are they who remember God standing and sitting, and [reclining] ontheir sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth, [and theysay]???Our Lord, You have not created this in vain; glory be to you! And protect192Our Lord, the one whom You cause to enter the Fire has been abased; indeed...
PART III: LEARNING TO PRAY
Learning to Pray with and in the Christian Tradition: Personal Reflections
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Asistosomeextentreflected in the collection of personal reflec-tions at the end of this volume, the Christian tradition offers severaldifferent accounts of prayer, and there are at least as many differentapproaches to learning or teaching to pray. In this chapter I do not attemptto provide a map of all of these or a detailed discussion of any of them. Byway of introduction, I rehearse some of my formative memories and recollec-tions of learning to pray not to privilege my own experience but in the...
Learning to Pray as a Muslim: The Foundational Stage
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In this brief essay I present my observations and experiences of learn-ing and teaching prayer in Islam. As my focus is on the practical side oflearning and teaching to pray at the foundational level, I will say littleabout the theology and philosophy of prayer in Islam. I will also make verylimited use of the Qurhalfringrightsuperscripta?n to support my observations, presenting my under-standing of only a small sample of verses relevant to the subject of prayer.Most Muslims generally understand and approach prayer in two ways: s.ala?t...
Growing in Prayer as a Christian
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For me, prayer is a love affair in which words, gestures, and memory allcome into play. I have read many books on prayer; most of them offeredme little help. Why? Not because their authors are insincere, norbecause their authors have not had considerable experience, but because alove affair by definition is unique. My love affair will not be yours, nor yoursmine. ??Pray as you can, not as you ought?? is a wise saying. I particularly likethe phrase ??love affair?? because it emphasizes that this relationship is unique...
Growing in Prayer as a Muslim: Reflections and Lessons of a Struggler
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Ioften reflect that the prayer-related growth we most need withinthe Muslim community is like a hidden treasure buried beneath or withinthe religious obligation. I say ??obligation?? here because prayer is oftenpresented and taught as a duty, as something we owe God, rather than as away God?in the infinite mercy and love we believe God extends to us?hasopened for us to approach and come close to the One who is the ultimategoal of all our longing and unrest. So in my community teaching and in my...
Conversations in Qatar
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Building Bridges seminars are characterized by what Rowan Wil-liams has called ??appreciative conversation.?? The size of these gather-ings encourages collegiality; so does the methodology. Seminarparticipants are assigned to break-out groups. Because the membership ofeach group is consistent throughout the seminar, it is easy to continue aconversational thread from the previous day. A moderator ensures thateveryone may contribute to these conversations; a scribe keeps a journal. So,...
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Two themes seem to pervade a great deal of the rich material gatheredhere. The first is the inescapable recognition in both Christian andMuslim reflection on prayer that it is not enough to think of prayingas something we do. A lot of the time we may speak of prayer as if it were amatter of human action directed toward a distant God, seeking his attention.Yet as soon as we remember what kind of God we are talking about, such amodel breaks down completely; for this is a God who, for the Muslim, can...
Personal Reflections on Prayer
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Before the seminar each participant was asked to write a short per-sonal reflection in response to this request: ??Imagine someone whoclaims not to understand prayer asking you what prayer means to you.What are your first thoughts? What do you tell this person? Feel free to drawon your own experience.?? This section consists of these reflections.To me, prayer (duhalfringleftsuperscripta?halfringrightsuperscript?supplication), as the Prophet Muh. ammad said, is theessence of worship. In the Qurhalfringrightsuperscripta?n God encourages us to pray and promises...
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Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2013