Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Lord's Prayer & the Beatitudes through Muslim Eyes

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

If Jesus (a.s.) were not a prophet, he would have been amongst the foremost of the Sufis.  We have only to read the Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer.  I was once asked to recite a du’a for an interfaith function.  I recited the Lord’s Prayer.

The Lord's Prayer, also known as the Our Father or Pater Noster, is the best-known prayer in Christianity.  Two versions of it occur in the New Testament.  One version is in the Gospel of Matthew as part of the sermon against ostentation in worship.  The other version occurs in the Gospel of Luke as part of the Sermon on the Mount.  In the Bible, the prayer ends with “deliver us from evil” or “the trial.”  Many Christians, mainly Protestants, also add the doxology, a non-Biblical prayer, immediately after.  They are treated as a single prayer.

Matthew 6:9-13
9 “Thus, therefore shall you pray, ‘Our Father Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Your Name.  10 Your Kingdom Come.  Your Will be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven.  11 Give us this day, our supersubstantial bread.  12 And Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.  13 And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil.  Amen.’”

Luke 11:2-4
2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say, ‘Father, Hallowed be Your name.  Your Kingdom Come.  3 Give us this day our daily bread.  4 And Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.  And lead us not into temptation.’”

If the prayer is translated into Arabic, it could almost be something you would find in the Qur’an.  This is the du’a that ‘Isa (a.s.) taught his ummah.  There is nothing in it that goes against the tenets of Islam.  It is a beautiful du’a.  First, it addresses Allah (s.w.t.) as ‘Father’.  It is most likely that the term used in Aramaic would be similar to ‘Rabba’.  ‘Hallowed be Thy Name’ may be translated as ‘al-Hamdulillah’.  His Name is Hallowed.  You have praised Him.  The ‘daily bread’ refers to rizqi.  You have acknowledged His Majesty, you have praised him, you have sought Forgiveness and you have sought His Sustenance.  Surely, there is only good here.  This is as complete a du’a as any you would find in the Qur’an and there are many parallels with Surah al-Fatihah, where you begin by acknowledging and praising Allah (s.w.t.) and where is also addressed as ‘Rabb,’ ‘Father’ in that sense.

The Lord’s Prayer as Recited by Christians:

“Our Father, Who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom Come.
Thy Will be Done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread.
And Forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And Lead us not into temptation,
But Deliver us from evil.
Amen.”

The Beatitudes is Latin for “Blessings.”  They are a set of eight blessings contained in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel according to Matthew.

Matthew 5:3-12
2 And opening his mouth, he taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  4 Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.  5 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be Comforted.  6 Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.  7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain Mercy.  8 Blessed are the pure of heart: they shall see God.  9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.  10 Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  11 Blessed are you when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: 12 Be glad and rejoice for your Reward is very great in Heaven.  For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you.”

Four of the beatitudes also appear in the Sermon on the Plain in the Gospel according to Luke.  There, they are contrasted with four woes.  Similar sayings are also recorded in a few of the Dead Sea Scrolls and in Jewish sources predating the Christian era.

Luke 6:20-26
20 And he, lifting up his eyes on his disciples, said, “Blessed are you poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.  21 Blessed are you that hunger now: for you shall be Filled.  Blessed are you that weep now: for you shall laugh.  22 Blessed shall you be when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you and shall reproach you and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake.  23 Be glad in that day and rejoice: for behold, your Reward is great in Heaven, for according to these things did their fathers to the prophets.  24 But woe to you that are rich: for you have your consolation.  25 Woe to you that are filled: for you shall hunger.  Woe to you that now laugh: for you shall mourn and weep.  26 Woe to you when men shall bless you: for according to these things did their fathers to the false prophets.”

The Beatitudes speak of the state of the believers and the woes, the state of the hypocrites.  It is meant as a comfort for those who seek the Divine and a warning for those who seek the world.  Jesus (a.s.) is giving a Divine Promise that after every trial, there is indeed a relief and a reward.  It is with this understanding that brought many Christians to Islam.  For those who know their Bible, the message is very much the same.


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