Sunday, January 24, 2016

Asalaam alaikum

Imam Tahir Anwar Preaching, 1/24/16

Imam Tahir on Compassion and Mercy

A bright day of hope on the Central Coast

"God spoken here"
On Saturday afternoon, I attended a heartbreaking prayer service, on campus, for two UCSC students.  The two had died last Monday when huge waves broke unexpectedly on the beach they were walking north of town.  Both were Muslim, active leaders in the Muslim Student Association on campus; and both were natives of San Jose.

Before the testimonials of family and friends, at least 200 paused to say afternoon prayers, laying out mats and turning toward Mecca.  Others of us stood at the edges, in grief and silence, doing what we could to hold a protected space for prayer and sadness.  It was one of the most poignant memorials I've ever seen.

By chance, we'd invited Imam Tahir Anwar (also of San Jose) to preach at Peace United this morning.  Before Tahir's teaching, we paused to remember Solaiman and Shireen and their grieving families and friends.  There's no way to express, in words, a community's grief for two college students who die so tragically, so young.  But together, an imam from San Jose and a pastor from Santa Cruz, we could demonstrate what solidarity in the face of such sadness looks like.  And we could pray together.  And this we did.

I'd asked Imam Tahir to speak on compassion and neighborliness, and the core teachings on these things in Muslim and Qur'anic tradition.  He did so brilliantly, beginning with the Qur'an's urgent call for compassion for one's own parents, and continuing on to include children, relations, neighbors, even to the 40th home in each direction.  What this means, he said, is that we must take the time, and make the effort, to know one another.

And this we did.  In grieving.  In learning.  In praying.