Kargador at Dawn

Kargador at Dawn
Work in the Vineyard

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ramadhan Khutba...

Ramadhan Khutba (exhortation)

“Oh people! The Month of Allah the High has come with blessings, mercy and forgiveness. To Allah, this month is the best month. Its days are the best days. Its nights are the best of all nights. Its hours are the best of all hours. And this is the month which you have been invited to be the guests of Allah and you have become the graced ones by Allah.
Your souls in it [month of Ramadhan] are glorification [of Allah]. Your sleep in it is worship. Your deeds in it are accepted. Your prayers in it are answered.
So ask your Lord with truthful intentions and pure hearts that He would grant you success in fasting and reading His book.

For that the unfortunate is the one who forbids Allah's forgiveness in this great month. With your hunger and thirst remember the hunger and thirst of the Day of Judgment. Give to your poor and needy. Respect the elder. Have mercy on the younger. Be nice and keep in touch with your relatives. Protect your tongues.

Cast down from what is not Halal (licit) for your sights to see and what is not halal for your ears to hear. Be compassionate and caring for the orphans of other people, so that your orphans would be taken care of and receive compassion.

Repent from your sins. Raise your hands towards Him in dua (prayer of invocation) during the hours of prayers, those hours are the best hours and Allah-azza wa jall- looks at His servants with mercy; answers them if they ask for help; answers their call if they call upon Him; answers their dua if they ask Him.

Oh people! Your souls are hostages by your deeds. So let yourselves free by asking Allah's forgiveness. Your backs are heavy with loads, so make it light by prolonging your sajdas (prostration in prayer). And know that Allah-jalla zikruh- has vowed to His Dignity that He would not punish those who pray and those who make Sajda. And He would not worry them with Fire on the day which people rise to the Lord of the Universe.

Oh people! Whoever feeds a fasting believer during this month, to Allah, it is as if he has freed a slave. And his past sins are forgiven. Then he, peace be upon him and his family, continued: ".....whoever does one 'fareedha' (a religious deed) during this month it is as if he has accomplished doing 70 good deeds in other months. Whoever increases sending blessings on me, Allah will make his rewards heavy on the day which people's rewards are light. Whoever recites one ayat (verse) of Qur'an, will receive the reward of finishing the whole Qur'an in other months.

Oh people! The door of Heaven in this month is open, so ask your lord not to close it on you. The doors of Hell are closed, so ask your Lord not to open it for you. The devils are in chains, so ask your Lord that they do not rule you." (A summary of a khutba by Prophet Muhammad - peace be upon him - on the Holy Month of Ramadhan: (A summary of a khutba by Prophet Muhammad on the Holy Month of Ramadhan got online)

Friday, September 29, 2006

Ramadhan is a season of prayer... The small boy respectfully watches his folks pray... Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Badaliyya Prayer Session...

During my stay in Cairo in the early 80’s, my Dominican mentors, Frs. George Anawati and Jacques Jomier, invited me to join the Badaliyya prayer session. It was my first introduction to the group. I heard a lot about it through the professors during my studies at the Pontifical Institute of Islamic and Arabic Studies in Rome.

The Badaliyya prayer begins in silence. Then the Blessed Sacrament is exposed; and adoration follows. The silent adoration is devoted to “standing before God” as an “offering” for and in behalf of our Muslim brothers and sisters.

It is during the prayer of adoration that one strives to become the “ransom” or a “substitution” for whatever is lacking or inadequate in Islam.

In some Badaliyya circles the prayer of adoration is followed by intercessory prayers that includes, among others, a plea for peaceful resolution to the crises in the Middle East and for conversion of hearts of all those whose hatred leads them to violent actions.

This is followed by a concluding prayer that asks for the courage to forgive the offenses and the wrong inflicted on each one by offering one’s self as a “ransom”/”substitution” in the place of those to be reconciled to a benevolent God. The prayer closes the Lord's Prayer.After about an hour of adoration, a light snack follows – a sort of a light passage to the second part of the monthly session.

The second part is devoted to sharing of significant events that affect Muslim and Christian relations. I remember the discussion on Mother Theresa’s visit to Cairo. It was the time that Egypt was being rocked by religious violence… the months prior to the assassination of Pres. Anwar Sadat.

The discussion ends always with a positive note and a short prayer… until the next session.

It is a monthly prayer session that is usually done on any Friday of Thursday evening… preferably the first Friday of the month. (Bapa Jun Mercado, OMI)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Pope Says Dialogue with Islam Vital for Future...

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 25, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI met with Muslim leaders of Italy and diplomats from 21 Islamic countries and stressed that the dialogue between Christians and Muslims is decisive for the future of humanity.The Pope said he called today's meeting to "strengthen the bonds of friendship and solidarity between the Holy See and Muslim communities throughout the world," in the wake of controversy over his Sept. 12 address at the University of Regensburg in Germany.

The Arab-language broadcaster Al-Jazeera carried the papal speech live."In this particular context, I should like to reiterate today all the esteem and the profound respect that I have for Muslim believers," said the Holy Father.He recalled the Second Vatican Council declaration "Nostra Aetate," which expresses officially the Church's "appreciation" for Muslims who "worship the one God."Benedict XVI's address, delivered in French, was also distributed among the diplomats in an Arabic translation, in addition to the English and Italian versions.The Pope did not address the issue of the interpretations of his address at Regensburg.

On two occasions last week he clarified his quotation from the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus as a means to present the problem of the relationship between religion and violence. The quotation sparked violence and drew criticism from some Muslims.To dispel doubts, the Holy Father said that "I have had occasion, since the very beginning of my pontificate, to express my wish to continue establishing bridges of friendship with the adherents of all religions, showing particular appreciation for the growth of dialogue between Muslims and Christians."Not an option"Interreligious and intercultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is, in fact, a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends," Benedict XVI said.

Thus he confirmed what he explained on Aug. 20, 2005, in Cologne, Germany, when meeting with representatives of Muslim communities.He continued: "In a world marked by relativism and too often excluding the transcendence and universality of reason, we are in great need of an authentic dialogue between religions and between cultures, capable of assisting us, in a spirit of fruitful cooperation, to overcome all the tensions together."Continuing, then, the work undertaken by my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, I sincerely pray that the relations of trust which have developed between Christians and Muslims over several years, will not only continue, but will develop further in a spirit of sincere and respectful dialogue.

"This dialogue, Benedict XVI added, must be "based on ever more authentic reciprocal knowledge which, with joy, recognizes the religious values that we have in common and, with loyalty, respects the differences. Interreligious and intercultural dialogue is a necessity for building together this world of peace and fraternity ardently desired by all people of good will."

Faithful to the teachings of their own religious traditions, Christians and Muslims must learn to work together, as indeed they already do in many common undertakings, in order to guard against all forms of intolerance and to oppose all manifestations of violence; as for us, religious authorities and political leaders, we must guide and encourage them in this direction."

Among the common challenges faced by Muslims and Christians, the Holy Father mentioned "the defense and promotion of the dignity of the human person and of the rights ensuing from that dignity."He added: "When threats mount up against people and against peace, by recognizing the central character of the human person and by working with perseverance to see that human life is always respected, Christians and Muslims manifest their obedience to the Creator, who wishes all people to live in the dignity that he has bestowed upon them."

Friday, September 22, 2006

Ramadhan Observance...

Ramadhan is the 9th lunar month of the Islamic calendar. The celebration of Ramadhan is characterized by fasting (Sawm) from sunrise to sunset for the entire month. Because, the fasting aspect, many think that this month can be compared to the Christian season of Lent.

The theology behind the Islamic fasting during the month of Ramadhan is not akin to the penance and fasting of the Christian Lent. If comparison would be made, the closer “spirit” is the penance and fasting of Advent that is characterized by the joyful expectation for Christmas of the birth of Jesus the Lord.

The month of Ramadhan is annually celebrated by fasting, penance and feasting to commemorate the coming down of the Qur’an – the Word of God. Every Muslim upon reaching the “age of reason”, unless sick or unable to fast, must observe the obligation of fasting prescribed by the Qur’an and the Shari’a.

For the year 2006, through scientific reckoning (not through the traditional actual sighting of the new moon), Ramadhan begins on the evening of the 23rd of September and ends on the evening of the 22nd of October. Believers, until now, reckon the beginning and end of the Ramadhan on the basis of actual sighting of the new moon.

Everyday at sundown, the Muslims celebrate the “breaking of the fast”. In many Islamic countries, the rich people erect tents where food and refreshments overflow for the whole month of Ramadhan for people to break the fast together. All, especially the poor are invited to partake of the daily feast.

The highlight of fasting would come about during the celebration of the “night of power”. This is the “most holy night where the Qur’an is revealed. The Word of God becomes the Qur’an. The Night of Power (Lailat ul-Qadr), is generally taken to be the 27th night of the month. The Qur’an states that this night is better than a thousand months. Therefore many Muslims (Submitters) spend the entire night in prayer.

In many spiritual circles, one recognizes this particular night when Muslims “light” candles or torches are lighted in their homes and yards and people spend the whole night in the recitation of the Qur’an until the banquet before the rising of the sun.

The sighting of the new moon marks the end of Ramadhan. This is the Feast of ‘Idul Fitr” (Breaking the Fast). Every one has to break the fast; and they prepare themselves to “parade” towards the publicly designated public prayer. In many places, the people go by groups from all direction towards the stadium while continuously proclaiming the “takhbir” (Allahu Akbar). In Islamic cities, the takhbir creates a sound akin to “thunder”!

For the whole moth of Ramadhan, I invite every believer to journey in prayer and solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters as they devotedly observe the sacred duty of fasting. (By Eliseo Mercado, OMI)

Qur’anic verses on Ramadhan fasting…

O you who believe, fasting is decreed for you, as it was decreed for those before you, that you may attain salvation. [2:183]

Specific days (are designated for fasting); if one is ill or traveling, an equal number of other days may be substituted. Those who can fast, but with great difficulty, may substitute feeding one poor person for each day of breaking the fast. If one volunteers (more righteous works), it is better. But fasting is the best for you, if you only knew. [2:184]

Ramadan is the month during which the Qur’an was revealed, providing guidance for the people, clear teachings, and the statute book. Those of you who witness this month shall fast therein. Those who are ill or traveling may substitute the same number of other days. God wishes for you convenience, not hardship, that you may fulfill your obligations, and to glorify God for guiding you, and to express your appreciation. [2:185]

When My servants ask you about Me, I am always near. I answer their prayers when they pray to Me. The people shall respond to Me and believe in Me, in order to be guided. [2:186]

Permitted for you is sexual intercourse with your wives during the nights of fasting. They are the keepers of your secrets, and you are the keepers of their secrets. God knew that you used to betray your souls, and He has redeemed you, and has pardoned you. Henceforth, you may have intercourse with them, seeking what God has permitted for you. You may eat and drink until the white thread of light becomes distinguishable from the dark thread of night at dawn. Then, you shall fast until sunset. Sexual intercourse is prohibited if you decide to retreat to the Masjid (during the last ten days of Ramadan). These are God’s laws; you shall not transgress them. God thus clarifies His revelations for the people, that they may attain salvation. [2:187]

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Badaliyya Tradition...

The Badaliyya Tradition…
By Dorothy C. Buck

In 1934 a renowned French Catholic Islamic scholar and an Egyptian Christian woman also prayed together before the altar of a Franciscan Church in Damietta, Egypt. In a passionate plea to the God of Abraham, father of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, they made a vow to dedicate their lives to pray for the Muslim people, to stand before God for them.

As a young man, Louis Massignon had lost interest in his Christian heritage. After an unusual conversion experience while on an archeological mission in Baghdad he became a devout Roman Catholic believer. Through years of research in the Arab world he came to
love his Muslim friends and colleagues.

Mary Kahil was a Melkite Christian who grew up in Cairo, Egypt where she became active in the Muslim women's political and social causes.

Louis discovered the roots of his spirituality and his faith life in his belief that to be a follower of Christ we must substitute our own lives for the salvation of others as Jesus did.

Thus the vow that Louis and Mary made in Damietta on February 9th, 1934 was grounded in a deep conviction of the heart, a call to what Louis named the Badaliyya, an Arabic word meaning substitution.

In 1947 Louis Massignon and Mary Kahil received official approval from Rome for the statutes of the Badaliyya. They attracted many members in Cairo as well as those joining in solidarity with them, like Cardinal Montini, the future Pope Paul Vl, and many others in monasteries and church communities around the world.

In the statutes they agreed to pray for the Muslims, to treat them with respect, affection and kindness, and to personally live the gospel message of love in their daily lives. Like Mary they devoted themselves to the Muslim community by volunteering in organizations where they could live out the spirit intended by the Badaliyya.

They met once a week for an hour. Guided by his relationship with Charles de Foucauld, Massignon invited them to begin their gatherings with a prayer in solitude before the altar called adoration. Then they read the spiritual writings of Foucauld or others, and ended by praying together.

Louis Massignon's understanding of what he called mystical substitution traced back to earlier church traditions. The many saints who were often martyrs for their faith were said to unite their sufferings and death with the passion and death of Christ. In the medieval church some extraordinary mystics felt called to pray to take onto themselves the physical and emotional afflictions of those who came to them for healing.

These examples seem far from our contemporary experience of faith and appear exaggerated and foreign. Yet, Louis Massignon's vision of such immense love of
God, even at the expense of one's own life or health, evolved into a profound and intense spirituality of compassion for others.

In a letter written on January 16, 1955 to Mary Kahil he described the spirit of the
Badaliyya: (All Massignon references are from L'Hospitalité Sacrée, Ed. Jacques Keryell, 1987. Author's translation.)

"...They say that the Badaliyya is an illusion because we cannot put ourselves in the place of another, and that it is a lover's dream. It is necessary to respond that this is not a dream but rather a suffering that one receives without choosing it, and through which we conceive grace. It is the visitation [by the spirit of God], hidden in the depth of the anguish of compassion, which seizes us as an entrance into the reign of God. It certainly appears powerless, yet it requires everything, and the One on the cross who shares it with us transfigures it on the last day. It is suffering the pains of humanity together with those who have no other pitiful companion than us."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Benedict XVI Apologizes for Muslim Offense

Benedict XVI Apologizes for Muslim OffenseMakes Invitation to Dialogue CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 17, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI said that he is "deeply sorry" for the harsh reaction to his recent remarks about Islam, and invited Muslims to open and honest dialogue.In the Pope's first public address since his trip to Bavaria, he said today: "I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims.""These in fact were a quotation from a Medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought," the Holy Father said from the balcony of the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo to the crowds gathered in the rain to pray the Angelus.

In his address on Tuesday in Regensburg, the Bishop of Rome quoted a dialogue on Christianity and Islam between Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and a Persian, which took place in Ankara around 1391.The Pontiff quoted what the emperor said regarding the question of the jihad (Holy War): "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."ClarificationToday Benedict XVI pointed to the statement released Saturday by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone "in which he explained the true meaning of my words."

"I hope that this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect," the Pope said.In his statement, Cardinal Bertone explained that "the Holy Father did not mean, nor does he mean, to make that opinion his own in any way.

"He simply used it as a means to undertake -- in an academic context, and as evident from a complete and attentive reading of the text -- certain reflections on the theme of the relationship between religion and violence in general, and to conclude with a clear and radical rejection of the religious motivation for violence, from whatever side it may come."The Arab television channel Al-Jazeera transmitted live the Pope's words during the Angelus.

7 Aspects of Remembering God...

Tradition has it from some of the “Knowers” of God that dhikr (remembrance of God) has seven aspects:

· dhikr of the eyes, which consists in seeing & weeping (buka');
· dhikr of the ears, which consists in listening (isgha');
· dhikr of the tongue, which consists in praise (thana');
· dhikr of the hands, which consists in sharing & giving (`ata');
· dhikr of the body, which consists in work & fidelity (wafa');
· dhikr of the heart, which consists in love and hope (kawf wa raja');
· dhikr of the spirit, which consists of utter submission and acceptance (taslim wa rida')."


O my Lord!
Make me abundantly thankful to You (shakkaran laka),
abundantly mindful of You (dhakkaran laka),
abundantly devoted to You (rahhaban laka),
perfectly obedient to You (mitwa`an ilayka),
lowly and humble before You (mukhbitan laka),
always crying out and turning back to You (awwahan muniban)!...."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Shayk - A Spiritual Mentor on our journey to God! Posted by Picasa

Dhikr Lesson 1: Remembrance of God

In the tradition of the “tariqa (t)” (path), Dhikr is a revered practice during the day. It is the remembrance of God with the tongue according to one of the formulas taught by the Shayk (guide). In time, through meditation, Dhikr becomes a remembrance of God, too, in the heart and in good works.

The first stage of the practice of the Dhikr reminds us of the Quranic verse that says” "The believers are those who, when they hear the names of Allah mentioned, their hearts tremble" (al-Anfal).”

The meaning of remembrance through the heart, as in the verse: "The men and women who remember God abundantly" (S. 33:35). The constant remembrance of God is the meaning of being single-hearted.

Dhikr is both inner remembrance and outward mention, as in the verse "Remember Me and I shall remember you" (S 2:152). This is read in the light of the hadith qudsi (Traditioni, "Those that remember me in their heart, I remember them in my heart; and those that remember Me in a gathering (i.e. that make mention of me), I remember them (i.e. make mention of them) in a gathering better than theirs." (Bapa Elisha “Jun” Mercado, OMI)