Interfaith Lunch at The Village Church
Isma`il (a) is the father of Prophet Muhammad (s), and his father is Abraham (a), who left her [Sayyida Hajar (r)] there (in the desert) with her son and went back to the land of Shaam; at that time Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan were all called Bilaad ash-Shaam, the land of Shaam. If we simply think we are three [faiths, i.e., Judaism, Christianity, Islam] converging into one, we will realize there is no need for us to be enemies or to hate each other as we come from the same father, Abraham (a), ‘Avraham’ in your language.
Jewish, Christian and Islamic communities, let us look at our father Abraham (a): what did he represent, who was he? When he was little, since we are talking about the light, his mother hid him in a cave because the king of that time knew his kingdom would perish with the birth of a boy. It was the same with Sayyidina Musa (a): they knew among the Israelis a baby boy would be born and destroy the kingdom of Pharaoh. So his mother hid him from the king and went to the cave to breastfeed him and then she left. When Abraham (a) was a toddler and walking, he came out of the cave by himself at night and looked for something; the Holy Qur’an says he went out at night, saw the stars and said, "This is my Lord."
فَلَمَّا جَنَّ عَلَيْهِ اللَّيْلُ رَأَى كَوْكَبًا قَالَ هَـذَا رَبِّي فَلَمَّا أَفَلَ قَالَ لا أُحِبُّ الآفِلِينَ
When the night covered him over (with darkness), he saw a star. He said, “This is my Lord,” but when it set, he said, “I do not love those that set.” (Surat al-An`am, 6:76)
I don't know if this is mentioned in your Holy Books, but it is mentioned in Holy Qur’an. A star represents light in the night sky, and Abraham (a) was looking for the light. The stars moved, the Moon came out and Abraham (a) said, "The stars went away. My Lord does not go away, does not vanish, my Lord is always present, so the stars are not my Lord even if they carry light. I am looking for this one, the Moon, this is my Lord."
فَلَمَّا رَأَى الْقَمَرَ بَازِغًا قَالَ هَـذَا رَبِّي فَلَمَّا أَفَلَ قَالَ لَئِن لَّمْ يَهْدِنِي رَبِّي لأكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الضَّالِّينَ فَلَمَّا رَأَى الشَّمْسَ بَازِغَةً قَالَ هَـذَا رَبِّي هَـذَآ أَكْبَرُ فَلَمَّا أَفَلَتْ قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ إِنِّي بَرِيءٌ مِّمَّا تُشْرِكُونَ
When he saw the Moon rising in splendor, he said, “This is my Lord,” but when the Moon set, he said, “Unless my Lord guides me, I shall surely be among those who go astray.” When he saw the Sun rising in splendor, he said, “This is my Lord, this is the greatest (of all)!” but when the Sun set, he said, “O my people! I am indeed free from your (guilt) of ascribing partners to Allah!” (Surat al-An`am, 6:77-78)
The Moon’s light was much stronger but it also disappeared. After a while the Sun came out and Abraham (a) said, "O, this is much, much brighter, haadha akbar, this is greater.” The great love we were talking about equals ‘greater light’. He said, "This light is much greater, this should be my Lord," but when it set he again said, "I don't like those that set and go away. I have turned my face toward The One that created Heavens and Earth.”
Abraham (a) knew that Allah exists, but he could not yet see Him. He said, "I turned my face to The One that created Heavens and Earth and I am not from those that make partners with Him. I only will look at that One, He is my Lord, the source of Light.”
The Arabic is a little different from English, but the symbolism of God, Allah, the first letter of ‘God’ in Arabic is ‘A’ for ‘Alif’, and the first letter in Hebrew is ‘Adonai,’ also ‘Alif’, which I heard for the first time today. The word ‘God’ in your language starts with an ‘A’ and Abraham’s name starts with ‘A’. Here we have to look at the symbolism as nothing is random; it means he represents his Lord, Allah, Adonai, which are the same, The Creator of Heavens and Earth, because he said, “I turned my face to Heavens and Earth.” And of course in the Christian faith, in Arab countries they refer to God as “Allah” in the Arabic Bibles, because it is the Arabic name of God.
Another thing I heard from your sermon today that immediately caught my attention, which you just mentioned is, “Eternal God! Open my lips and my mouth will declare Your Glory,” or “Greatness,” “Lordship,” in praise of your Lord. In our Holy Book, it is mentioned that God gathered all of us in front of Him before we came to Earth and He said, “Am I not your Lord?” and we all said, "Baala," which in Arabic means “yes”, we all said yes. Also, when we read our Holy Book, we must start with “Bismillahi 'r-Rahmani 'r-Raheem.” I am talking about the letter ‘B’ and Abraham (a) in Arabic, English and a little bit different in Hebrew. Pay attention to that letter, I would like you all to close your lips and then open them forcefully. [‘B’ is heard from the audience]. “Adonai [utters the sound ‘B’], open my lips.”
I will stop here. Thank you for listening.
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