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Sessions

Allah and the ProphetTruly There Are SignsGather Us TogetherSteadfastness and CompassionStories of the Prophets

Qur'an/Steadfastness and Compassion

Meditation and Reading taken from The Quran, a new translation by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
All other text is by Cynthia Stewart

Today's Themes

One of the lovely elements of Islam is that its instructions for living a moral religious life are so clearly laid out and straightforward to follow. To be a good Muslim, a person must carry out the Five Pillars: recitation of the Shahada, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and pilgrimage. While each is discussed in detail in the Qur’an, they are expressed mush more cohesively in the famous hadith of Gabriel, in which the Prophet explains to Gabriel what constitutes Islam.

In our reading and meditation today, though, we look beyond the Five Pillars to the spiritual intent behind them, as expressed in the Qur’an. The meditation is a call to “steadfastness and compassion”, characteristics that underlie the Five Pillars. The reading lays out five of the six Articles of Faith accepted by Sunni Muslims – belief in Allah, angels, the revelations (including the Qur’an), the Messengers, and the day of judgment (the sixth is a belief in destiny or fate) – but in a context of understanding that true virtue is found in compassionate intention rather than merely in conscientious action. True believers, we are told, must not simply follow the prescribed actions; they must act always in a spirit of generosity and kindness.

In all the sections on the Qur’an, I have substituted “Allah” for Khan’s translation, “God”.

Words used in this session:
hadith – stories of the life and sayings of the prophet, held in reverence in Islam
Shahada - the public statement that “There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet” (for more on this see Session 1)
surah – chapter of the Qur’an

Call To Worship

     We come together in worship to hold up what is worthy – and what is worthy, in our eyes? Is it success and riches, the bigger house, the faster car? Is if fame and accolades, the admiration of our peers? Or is it kindness given, empathy felt, a simple smile offered to another? Our values tell us that it is the latter, but I wonder if our actions say the same.
     As we gather here in beloved community this morning, let us call to mind what is truly of worth in our world, and in our lives, and in ourselves.

Meditation

What will explain to you what the ascent is? It is the freeing of a slave; or the feeding in times of famine of an orphaned relative or some needy person in distress, and to be one of those who believe and urge one another to steadfastness and compassion.

          Surah 90:12-17
          (Wahiduddin Khan translation)

Reading

     Do not mix truth with falsehood, or hide the truth when you know it. Attend to your prayers, give the [prescribed alms] and bow down with those who bow down. Do you admonish others to do good and forget this yourselves?...Seek help with patience and prayer; this is indeed an exacting discipline, but not to the humble...
     Virtue does not consist in whether you face towards the East or the West; virtue means believing in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book and the prophets; the virtuous are those who, despite their love for it, give away their wealth to their relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to travellers and those who ask [for charity], and to set slaves free, and who attend to their prayers and pay the alms, and who keep their pledges when they make them, and show patience in hardship and adversity, and in times of distress. Such are the true believers; and such are the God-fearing.

          Surah 2:42-46, 177
          (Wahiduddin Khan translation)

Benediction

May the value of virtue accompany you this day.
May a commitment to compassion mark your actions.
May a steadfastness of spirit be the sign of your presence.
And may the holy hold you virtuously, steadfastly and compassionately in arms of love.