August 27, 2006.

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya Prayer on Sunday, August 27, 2006 from 3pm-4:30pm in the small chapel in St. Paul's Parish Center. Please join us in person or in spirit as we pray for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East and especially in the Holy Land, in Lebanon and Iraq.

My dear friends, as you all know the summer has seen an increase in violence in Lebanon, Gaza and Iraq. As much as we might succumb to the feelings of helplessness in face of such devastating realities, we are called more than ever to join our hearts and minds in prayer for peace and reconciliation of our three Abrahamic religions. It seems that the Holy Land, where our three great traditions were founded, remains the center of our hope for humanity.

To renew our spirit of Badaliya prayer I am turning to a lived and current example of it in our world today for our reflections this month. This is followed by two quotations from the Qur'an that are a source of hope for all of us. By now most are aware that from the time of the Crusades, a thousand years ago, religion has been used for economic and political reasons to wage war on our neighbors by fueling the rage of radical and extremist elements in society. Despite this there are Imams, Rabbi's and active groups in all three faith traditions working for peaceful resolutions and bringing people together all over the world.I am including an article about one of these here as well.

Guyonne de Montjou, one of our Badaliya members in Paris, quotes Paolo Dall'Oglio in her book of interviews with him. Paolo Dall'Oglio is a Jesuit priest who for the last twenty years has been re-creating the Monastery community in Syria called Mar Musa, in the spirit of Louis Massignon. Paolo speaks about the spirit of the Badaliya in Islam and Christianity:

"Abdâl is the plural of Badal, the Arabic word that Louis Massignon drew from for the name of the prayer of the Badaliya. Abdâl in Islam are the hidden and suffering souls who are joined to God and who, through their approach to intercession, like Abraham, save the world. The abdâl are good Muslims and for me they can also be good Christians; they take part in the same school of mysticism, the school of unconditional love. In order to become an abdâl one must work without letting up on one's soul. We don't declare ourselves as abdâl. The abdâl are chosen by God to heal the wounds of the world through the gift of themselves, through patience, humility, silence, through the smallest task taken on with love...I myself, consecrate and compel my soul to pray and to love, without judging God. That is to say that we do not ask of God, "Why is there suffering?" We understand that question from within ourselves. We are already solidly with God. The souls as abdâl come to help God, they represent God's comfort.
I think there are those of the Church who are called to a mysterious intercession. These persons, who must be the most humble, arrive at convincing divine mercy not to stop at the gates of hell... but to remain entirely caring of it".
(de Montjou, Guyonne. 2006. "Mar Moussa" Albin Michel p.96-98).

Quotes from the Qur'an available at
(The Islamic Computing Centre, 73 St. Thomas's Road, London N4 2QJ U.K.)

Sura 8:61 Al-Anfal (Spoils of War, Booty)

"But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in Allah: for He is One that heareth and knoweth (all things)". (trans.YUSUFALI)

Sura 2:11 Al-Baqara (The Cow)

"And when it is said unto them: Make not mischief in the earth, they say: We are peacemakers only".

Peace to you.


Final statement

Seville, Spain, March, 22nd 2006, Safar 21, 1427, Adar 22, 5766

In the name of the One Creator and Master of the Universe, the Compassionate and All Merciful, we Muslim and Jewish leaders and representatives, gathered for the Second World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace organized by Hommes de Parole in Seville, in the region of Andalusia - recalling the past era in which Jews and Muslims lived together here in harmony and mutual enrichment - and aspiring for such relations today and in the future.

We accordingly affirm that contrary to widespread misrepresentation, there is no inherent conflict between Islam and Judaism, on the contrary. While modern politics has regrettably impacted negatively upon the relationship, our two religions share the most fundamental values of faith in the One Almighty whose name is Peace, who is merciful, compassionate and just; and who calls on us human beings to manifest these values in our lives and to advance them in relation to all persons whose lives and dignity are sacred. Therefore we reiterate the message we sent from our first congress, that we deplore bloodshed or violence in the name of any ideology everywhere. Especially when such is perpetrated in the name of religion it is a desecration of religion itself, and the gravest offense against the Holy Name of the Creator.

Thus, in addition to calling upon all our co-religionists to respect all human life, dignity and rights, to promote peace and justice, we call upon them and the governments of the world and international institutions to show respect for the attachments and symbols of all religions, as well as their holy sites, houses of worship and cemeteries, particularly in the Holy Land, due to its special sensitivity.

Accordingly, we condemn any negative representation of these, let alone any desecration, Heaven forbid. Similarly, we condemn any incitement against a faith or people, let alone any call for their elimination, and we urge authorities to do likewise.

We recognize that there is widespread misrepresentation of our religions, - one in the other's community as well as in the world at large.

We affirm therefore the urgent need for truthful and respectful education about each other's faith and tradition in our respective communities and schools; and call upon those responsible to promote such essential education for peaceful co-existence.

Solemnly we pledge ourselves to the abovementioned, continue to seek out one another to build bridges of respect, hope and friendship, to combat incitement and hostility, to overcome all barriers and obstacles, to reinforce mutual trust, serving the noble goal of universal peace especially in the land that is holy to us all.