Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Adam and Eve: Comparing the Muslim and Christian stories

Last Wednesday, Zainab led us in a discussion of the Muslim story of Adam and Eve, which we compared with the Christian version.   Some of the verses we discussed are printed below; we also looked at verses 15:28-15:43 and a few other verses. 
From the Qur'an, verses 2:30-2:39

Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vicegerent on earth." They said: "Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood? - whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?" he said: "I know what ye know not."
And He taught Adam the nature of all things: then He placed them before the angels, and said: "Tell me the nature of these if ye are right."
They said: "Glory to Thee, of knowledge We have none, save what Thou Hast taught us: In truth it is Thou Who art perfect in knowledge and wisdom."
He said: "O Adam! Tell them their natures." When he had told them, Allah said: "Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of heaven and earth, and I know what ye reveal and what ye conceal?"
And behold, We said to the angels: "Bow down to Adam" and they bowed down. Not so Iblis: he refused and was haughty: He was of those who reject Faith.
We said: "O Adam! dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden; and eat of the bountiful things therein as (where and when) ye will; but approach not this tree, or ye run into harm and transgression.'
Then did Satan make them slip from the (garden), and get them out of the state (of felicity) in which they had been. We said: "Get ye down, all (ye people), with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling-place and your means of livelihood - for a time."
Then learnt Adam from his Lord words of inspiration, and his Lord Turned toward him; for He is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.
We said: "Get ye down from here; and if, as is sure, there comes to you Guidance from me, whosoever follows My guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.
"But those who reject Faith and belie Our Signs, they shall be companions of the Fire; they shall abide by them."
We had a fascinating and illuminating discussion comparing this story to the Christian version.  In particular, it was interesting to contrast the Christian idea of original sin to the Muslim view, that everyone has an inherently good nature but it just gets disturbed here on earth or we "forget" about that nature.  Here are some of our thoughts, and feel free to leave any additional comments below:
  • This is a story of hope - regardless of whether the fall from grace in the Adam and Even story is the result of sin or forgetfulness, humans can still continue to do good and receive forgiveness and God's love and grace.
  • A powerful expression of our relationship with God...a reminder that we were created to be in an intimate relationship with God.
  • In both versions, there is a feeling of the legitimacy of man's struggle between doing what's aligned with God and doing what we've learned from the world...and there's always a balance between those two aspects.
  • We were struck by the similarities between the two stories, particularly in regard to the common idea that Christianity and Islam are very different and cannot be reconciled.  While there's a lot to be learned from the differences between the stories, there's also a lot to be gained from the commonalities - that God created us.
  • Good to remember the concept and understanding of God as home, respite, hope, and merciful.
  • The idea of forgetfulness rather than a focus on sin facilitates forgiveness.
  • We also discussed a different interpretation of the Christan story as one of coming of age and choosing wisdom over innocence, rather than one of a fall from grace.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Taize Details and Application

Just a reminder that the deadline for Taize applications is October 29 at 4 pm.  You can download the application and flyer through the links below.  We will also be holding an additional information session on October 24 at 4:30 pm at Westminster House - if you're interested in the trip or would just like to know more, please come by and check it out! 

Taize Application
Taize Flyer
October 24 Info Session

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Evening of Prayer

This past Wednesday, I got the opportunity to lead the group in a discussion about prayer.  We discussed our past experiences with different kinds of prayer, and then read prayers in a variety of styles. Then, we turned out the lights, lit candles, and spent some time writing our own prayers.  Some of our prayers are shared below.


Holy One

I’m so grateful that I have tasted, seen, delighted and been dependent on your presence. But these days I feel blind and bland, ignorant and mindless. Forgive God for I long to be energized, to be connected, to be loving. I want my will to be what creates harmony, that brings affirmation, acceptance and authenticity. I want to feel. I want to bee. I want to serve. May my hands be your hands. My eyes your eyes. My heart your heart. Meet me, mold me, shape me to be the fully alive child you have created me to be.


Dear God,
I want to have the completely generous spirit of Jesus, even though part of me is skeptical, like that's so unrealistic.  Which of course it is, and that's the point.
Give me the ability to work toward unrealistic and unattainable goals because they're too beautiful to give up on.  And forgive my cynicism (that says, what's the point of praying for the world - if it were going to work, maybe it would have worked by now).
So, even if I don't totally believe it:
Be with those who are suffering, and ease it.
Melt hearts that are hard and full of hatred, especially those in positions of power
Let your divine presence fill up the world with something holy and good
Sometimes I feel like the only thing that will "save the world" is a miracle, and so I'll pray for one. 


Fear Not
as I am here,
My blessed child...
You are not alone.
I will be here to guard you and protect you,
Wherever you are,
throughout the passing of time.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Drumming Circle

On Wednesday the 29th, a few of us gathered for a drumming circle. We sat outside in the increasing darkness and many of us commented on the meditative aspect of getting into the rhythm.

Although it was sometimes difficult to stay with the beat, it almost creates a metaphor for school or spiritual troubles: When things get too crazy, calm down, stop for a bit, find the beat again, and get back in rhythm.