Sunday, 2 September 2012

PRAYER - The heart of Religion and Faith

God has taught us that part of our piety to Him is to have faith in the Revealed Books. These Revealed Books refer to the Psalms of King David (“Kitab Zabur”), the Old Testament (“Kitab Taurat”), the New Testament (“Kitab Injil”), and of course the Quran being the last Revealed Book. In the last sermon of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), he mentioned that there shall be no more prophets forthcoming. This means that God has revealed all His words for mankind on earth.

As you know, prayer is the heart of religion and faith for the children of the Revealed Books. In other words, for each religion and faith, prayer is fundamental for its followers. In this regard, let me share with you within the scope of the Revealed Books what PRAYER means especially in the context of initial invocation.

The biggest Surah (Book or Degree) in the Quran (“Al-Fatihah” or the Opening Chapter) teaches us the perfect Prayer by revealing the following verses:

• In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
• Praise be to Allah, The Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds
• Most Gracious, Most Merciful
• Master of the Day of Judgement
• Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek
• Show us the straight way
• The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, Those whose portion is not wrath and who go not astray. Amen

This Surah is recited over and over again at the beginning of each stanza of the prayer. Thus, on a daily basis, Muslims would have recited it at least 17 times in their daily invocation of prayers or Solat.

During the time of the Messiah, Jesus Christ (PBUH), approximately 600 years before the Quran was revealed through our last Prophet and Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (PBUH), the followers were taught the Lord’s Prayer. The Book of Matthew 6:9-13 (Chapter 6, Verses 9 to 13) and the Book of Luke 11:2-4 (Chapter 11, Verses 2 to 4) vividly describe the Lord’s Prayer as follows:

• Our Lord 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 debts, as we forgive our debtors
• And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one, for Yours is the kingdom of power and glory forever. Amen

You can draw the similarity between the verses of the two Revealed Books with regard to Prayer. Clearly, only the way of God is the right way to all the followers and that everything else comes from Him and will go back to Him as well. Both Revealed Books emphasize and acknowledge God to be Omnipotent, Omni-benevolent, and Omniscient. As a former child of the Revealed Book of the New Testament, I saw the beauty of the verses prescribed in the Lord’s Prayer. Today, the beauty of the verses in Al-Fatihah clearly shares the existence of God in this whole wide universe and beyond. Just imagine this: how could two significant prophets with such different backgrounds and lived 600 years apart from one another say the same thing about God? The penultimate prophet was a Jew and the last prophet was an Arab; together, they both prostrated, praised, and sought the same God.

This is one of the reasons why I decided to follow the last prophet in my journey back home again to the Almighty.

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