The Loudmouth Protestant

September 30, 2007

A Call to Prayer

Filed under: God,Islam,Muslim,prayer — nickisym @ 10:02 pm

Yesterday evening I was in the area known as–at least to me–as Little Islam. Like many “Littles” in major cities, it is an area concentrated with merchants that sell goods intrinsic to the culture. For this area, hijabs, burkas, abayas, incense, uncut oils, dates, foodstuffs and other products were the de riguer. This isn’t the first time I walked through the area, but on this day it had different meaning.

As I walked through this “Little,” I heard something hauntingly beautiful. It started out as a mere jumble of words that I heard about every 45 seconds and I couldn’t get it out of my head. As the chant–formally called adhan–continued, I saw people shutting down shop and running toward the call. Suddenly I stopped, turned around and started to walk toward the ahdan.

After walking a couple of inches I found the place from which the ahdan originated. It was a mosque set into the Brooklyn landscape. It was a “blink and you miss it” edifice but the people that needed to find it would know exactly where to go. I stood in front of the mosque while the muadhin–the person responsible for the adhan–chanted, I was entranced.

I was amazed because of the amazing ways God shows himself to me and lets me know what I need to do. You see, what I picked up from that moment is that God indeed calls us to pray during times other than our normal morning and evening prayers but we aren’t always listening. He wants us to pray more and maybe it doesn’t mean you increase the number of times you pray in a day but you can increase the amount of time you spend in one prayer.

To bring it back to the faith, this morning a pastor preached from II Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” He [the pastor] said that we must do our part by humbling ourselves, pray and seek God’s face.

So we must do our part. How will you?

August 16, 2007

You Could Call Him “Allah”

Filed under: Allah,christianity,God,Islam,Muslim,the catholic church — nickisym @ 4:08 am

Or you can continue to call him God, but one Roman Catholic Bishop in the Netherlands by the name of Tiny Muskens seems to think that calling God “Allah” will ease relations between religions.

Muskens believes that “Allah” is a very beautiful word for God and I agree, but not to the point where I will call him “Allah” for the sake of religion relations. One man that was polled on Bishop Musken’s suggestion cynically said “Sure. Lets call God Allah. Lets then call a church a mosque and pray five times a day. Ramadan sounds like fun.”

His response was strange and it was mainly because I think we do need to embrace some of what our Muslim brothers and sisters consider spiritual practice, if only conceptually to make our walk better. We should in essence treat our churches like mosques, but for some reason we have gotten too used to coming in any way we please with the least amount of reverence we can muster up after dragging ourselves out of bed. Instead of respecting the sanctity of the space as many Muslim respects their mosques, we come into the Lord’s house ready to feign interest during sermons while text-messaging, eating, passing notes and doing other random acts of rudeness during what is supposed to be the most reverent hours of our week.

And what is wrong with praying five times a day? I fully respect this tenet of the Muslim faith and wish that I had the discipline to drop everything I am doing on any given day of the week to pray to God and thank him for giving me another hour on this earth. Matter of fact, I might have to try this…

And Ramadan, the ninth month on the Muslim calendar, a time for great fasting and prayer, is no different from the seasons that we all must spend in fasting and prayer–if we will–and I’m not just talking about Lent.

I acknowledge that the solution to religious relations is not going to be in ascribing God some universally accepted. But somehow I feel that attempting to understand the spiritual practices of other faiths might help us along further. I personally would love to engage in the spiritual discipline that Muslim take part of by praying five time daily. Can you imagine what our relationship with God and our lives would be like if we prayer to him five times daily? Talk about going to another level. Or what about if we really took our worship seriously on Sunday? And that means from the moment you hit the door you go straight to the altar and pray until worship begins and you stay in a constant state of prayer and worship through service and stay in the zone with God.

This has really got me thinking about the benefits of blending spiritual practices. Is it wrong if it is done for the betterment of my relationship with the one true God? Can I take a little from the meditation practices of Buddhist, the dietary habits of Jews, the yogi habits of Hindus??? Hmm…

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