An update on this story. Imam Yusuf Kavakci, like Husham Al-Husainy at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting in February, echoed the Fatiha, the most common prayer in Islam and the first sura of the Qur’an — a prayer which has been traditionally understood as condemning Jews and Christians. And Kavakci followed its wording more closely than did al-Husainy, referring to it explicitly.
“Texas Senate prayer excludes Christians: Pro-Khomeini imam seeks protection from ‘those who have lost the way,'” from WorldNetDaily.com, with thanks to all who sent this in:
A controversial Texas imam who at one point participated in a “tribute to the great Islamic visionary” Ayatollah Khomeini, has offered a prayer to open the state Senate that excluded both Christians and Jews.
“Oh, Allah, guide us to the straight path, the path of those whom you have favored, not of those who have earned your wrath or of those who have lost the way,” prayed Imam Yusuf Kavakci of the Dallas Central Mosque….
The imam introduced what he was going to do: “We will pray by reading from first chapter, opening chapter, Al-FÃ£tehah, from holy Quran, followed by recitation, traditional way of recitation of text from holy Quran, with an addition.”
The he prayed:
In the name of god, Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. All praise is for Allah, our lord, the lord of the worlds, the compassionate, the merciful, master of the day of judgments. Oh, god, Allah, you alone we worship, and you alone we call on for help. Oh, Allah, guide us to the straight path, the path of those whom you have favored, not of those who have earned your wrath or of those who have lost the way. Our lord, have mercy on us from yourself and guide us in our efforts, strivings, and works.”
Officials said a recording of the prayer was available at this link by clicking ‘You can hear the opening ceremony, including the prayer, here.’
The Fatiha asks Allah: “Show us the straight path, the path of those whom Thou hast favoured; not the (path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray.” The traditional Islamic understanding of this is that the “straight path” is Islam — cf. Islamic apologist John Esposito’s book Islam: The Straight Path. The path of those who have earned Allah’s anger are the Jews, and those who have gone astray are the Christians. The classic Qur’anic commentator Ibn Kathir explains:
Allah asserted that the two paths He described here are both misguided when He repeated the negation `not’. These two paths are the paths of the Christians and Jews, a fact that the believer should beware of so that he avoids them. The path of the believers is knowledge of the truth and abiding by it. In comparison, the Jews abandoned practicing the religion, while the Christians lost the true knowledge. This is why `anger’ descended upon the Jews, while being described as `led astray’ is more appropriate of the Christians. Those who know, but avoid implementing the truth, deserve the anger, unlike those who are ignorant. The Christians want to seek the true knowledge, but are unable to find it because they did not seek it from its proper resources.
This is why they were led astray. We should also mention that both the Christians and the Jews have earned the anger and are led astray, but the anger is one of the attributes more particular of the Jews. Allah said about the Jews,
[مَن لَّعَنَهُ اللَّهُ وَغَضِبَ عَلَيْهِ]
(Those (Jews) who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath) (5:60).
The attribute that the Christians deserve most is that of being led astray, just as Allah said about them,
[قَدْ ضَلُّواْ مِن قَبْلُ وَأَضَلُّواْ كَثِيراً وَضَلُّواْ عَن سَوَآءِ السَّبِيلِ]
(Who went astray before and who misled many, and strayed (themselves) from the right path) (5:77).
It isn’t just Ibn Kathir. Most Muslim commentators believe that the Jews are those who have earned Allah’s wrath and the Christians are those who have gone astray. This is the view of Tabari, Zamakhshari, the Tafsir al-Jalalayn, the Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas, and Ibn Arabi, as well as Ibn Kathir. One contrasting, but not majority view, is that of Nisaburi, who says that “those who have incurred Allah’s wrath are the people of negligence, and those who have gone astray are the people of immoderation.”