dispatches to and from

nathan f. elmore

Dispatches to and from faith, culture, and things in between

Ramadan Renderings/Day 20

I am a Christian pastor who works as a collegiate minister with the Virginia Baptists at Virginia Commonwealth University. One of my areas of vocational interest and spiritual work is Christian-Muslim relations, including text-centered dialogues or conversations. During Ramadan 2011, I read through the entire Qur'an, in English, via Tarif Khalidi's 2008 translation (Penguin Books). What follows is a personal, meditative rendering of the Qur'an portion of the day. This rendering is devotional in nature, not scholarly. And it comes in the form of textual observations, spiritual reflections, theological questions or poetic responses.

 

A detainee in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba [Photo by mpraonline via Flickr]

 

Day 20 || Reading: Qur'an 27:56 - 29:45

 

Rendering from Qur'an 28:4-6

http://quran.com/28/4-6

 

It is through the humility (read: humiliation) of weakness that God comes and draws near.

According to Tarif Khalidi's translation, God is said to favor precisely this humbled position of the earthling: "We wish to bestow Our favour on those held to be weak on earth." For the Children of Israel in the Bible, as with us, God's character is revealed to be in profound contrast to most powers-that-be. And this is an empire-sized relief for the powerless person so desperately in need.

In fact, look carefully: in this scripture text, there is an encouraging illustration of what God can do with powerlessness. It's a very unsuspecting thing. His capacity to transform weakness feels almost like a secret.

So why do our religions or religious leaders clamor to death for power? Why are they afraid to be weak? Why are you?