“Allah bless us and bless our families and bless our Lord. Lead us on the straight path – the path of all the prophets: Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad,” and so went the prayer offered up by Wajidi Said, from the Portland Muslim Community, as part of the “first order of business” during the opening plenary session of the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Wajidi was taking part in the assembly’s scheduled time of remembrance for those killed in the recent Orlando terrorist attack and those killed last year in the shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, S.C.
“In the days leading up to this assembly we all know that our nation’s peace has once again been ripped apart by an act of mass violence,” said Heath Rada, moderator of the 221st General Assembly, when introducing it.
The violence, he said, “tore at each of our hearts as it reminded us of too many tragedies and too many victims. We are all touched by the tragedy of violence in some way. Being from North Carolina, I am reminded of the Chapel Hill shooting of Muslims, and I am concerned of course as I recognize that yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the shootings at AME church in Charleston.”
Rada said that Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons requested the staff leadership of the PCUSA’s ecumenical and interfaith ministries — Robina Winbush, Laurie Anderson, Rick Ufford-Chase and Laurie Kraus, — “ to provide for us as a first order of business an opportunity to lift up these tragedies that are so much on our minds.”
Taking part in the time of remembrance was Donnie Woods, general presbyter of Charleston-Atlantic Presbytery, Dan Williams, general presbyter of Central Florida Presbytery, Terry McCrae Hill of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Portland, and Eliana Maxim of Seattle Presbytery.
“Allah bless us and bless our families and bless our Lord. Lead us on the straight path – the path of all the prophets: Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Peace be upon them all Amen.
“In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful, let us praise the Lord. The creator of the universe, the most merciful, the most compassionate and the Lord of the universe who has created us and made us into nations and tribes, from male and females that we may know each other, not that we might despise each other, or may despise each other. Incline towards peace and justice and trust in God, for the Lord is one that hears and knows everything and the servants of God, the most compassionate, the most merciful, gracious are those who walk in the earth in humility and when bigots and hateful and Islamaphobes address them, they say peace. Peace be upon them and peace be upon Allah.”
The video of the time of first plenary session can be viewed here. The time of remembrance begins at the 6:45 mark and the prayer to Allah starts at the 14:04 mark.
UPDATE: At the conclusion of the afternoon plenary on Wednesday, June 22, the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Rev. Gradye Parsons, offered an apology. He said that he had become aware that some had found the prayer on Saturday offensive. Parsons said that sometimes mistakes can be made in ecumenical relationships and stated it was not intentional. “It was never the intention to offend anyone, and we offer an apology to those who were offended.”