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.
Photo by Samir T via Flickr
*Day 27's rendering was postponed due to weather. Hurricane Irene did what she did.
Day 28 || Reading: Qur'an 58:1 - 66:12
Rendering from Qur'an 62:9-11
Here is a famous sura (chapter) on the matter of the congregational prayer.
In this matter there is something toward which to move quickly ("the remembrance of God") and something a person must forsake as he or she makes their way toward this remembrance ("leave your commerce aside"). It's an arresting image: prayer as a divine disruption -- especially to business and markets, and their almighty inclinations.
This is, of course, not the first time that faith has spoken truth to the power of money. It won't be the last. And we certainly feel these extraordinary tensions every day, not merely on the days that are ritually prescribed.
Does my heart hasten to pray? I ask myself. What does it mean for us smartphone-toting modern-world dwellers to leave our commerce aside?
The scripture sounds proverbial when it says, "What is with God is better than frivolity or commerce" (Khalidi's translation). I nod, naturally, hoping my actions can keep up with the intentions.