This is wonderful. When will the imam of the mosque Remona Aly attends invite a Christian woman to read from the New Testament during mosque prayers? Anyway, while we are waiting for that invitation, I hope the chaplain of Royal Holloway University has Remona Aly back for more Qur’an readings during church services. Here are some more lovely and inspiring Qur’an selections she could read:
Qur’an 98:4-6: “Nor did those who were given the Scripture become divided until after there had come to them clear evidence. And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, [being] sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give zakah. And that is the correct religion. Indeed, they who disbelieved among the People of the Scripture and the polytheists will be in the fire of Hell, abiding eternally therein. Those are the worst of creatures.”
Qur’an 5:14: “And from those who say, ‘We are Christians’ We took their covenant; but they forgot a portion of that of which they were reminded. So We caused among them animosity and hatred until the Day of Resurrection. And Allah is going to inform them about what they used to do.”
Qur’an 5:17: “They have certainly disbelieved who say that Allah is Christ, the son of Mary. Say, ‘Then who could prevent Allah at all if He had intended to destroy Christ, the son of Mary, or his mother or everyone on the earth?’ And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them. He creates what He wills, and Allah is over all things competent.”
Qur’an 4:157: “And [for] their saying, ‘Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.’ And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain.”
Qur’an 4:171: “O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, ‘Three’; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.”
Qur’an 5:116: “And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, ‘O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, “Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah?”‘ He will say, ‘Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen.'”
Qur’an 19:35: “It is not [befitting] for Allah to take a son; exalted is He! When He decrees an affair, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.”
Qur’an 9:30-31: “The Jews say, ‘Ezra is the son of Allah’; and the Christians say, ‘The Messiah is the son of Allah.’ That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved [before them]. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded? They have taken their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah, and [also] the Messiah, the son of Mary. And they were not commanded except to worship one God; there is no deity except Him. Exalted is He above whatever they associate with Him.”
Qur’an 9:29: “Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.”
“Qur’an Recitation in Christmas Carols?,” by Remona Aly at OnIslam, December 24:
As the procession of clergy and choir singers made its way down the aisle towards a candle-lit altar, solemnly following the cross and Bible held high, there was one thing that looked out of place”¦ It was me, a hijabi Muslim girl in a Christian service!
The last time I stood at a church lectern reading out from Holy Scripture, I was at primary school, a timid girl reciting words from the New Testament. Over two decades later, I find myself again at the lectern of a beautiful 19th century chapel, this time invited by the chaplain to read translated verses from the Qur’an.
I felt a sense of both honor and humility, as I read the account in Surah Maryam (Qur’anic chapter 19) relating how the Angel Gabriel appears to inform the blessed Virgin that she is to bear a pure son. I was not here to convert the masses, but to confirm where our faiths overlap, to feel a connection –, one of spirituality, one of humanity.
As a child, I attended service every Monday at my Church of England school — to this day, I know the Lord’s Prayer by heart along with countless hymns, as do many British Muslims of my generation. We had a plastic Christmas tree at home and we ate halal turkey in Christmas occasion. Both my brother and I were in nativity plays; as the only Asian in his school, he was of course the black king. I was an angel, or possibly a sheep. For most Muslim families in the eighties, it was normal for their children to take part in festivities while for some others, it was tantamount to blasphemy….
That the chaplaincy of Royal Holloway University chapel sought to include a reading from the Qur’an embedded in this Christian service is testament to a more embracing and open approach that can only be admired. “Christmas is a joyful celebration of God’s love made real among all people,” the chaplaincy stated, “so it is with particular pleasure we welcome representatives of the Jewish and Islamic faiths, which have so much shared heritage with Christianity.” Now that’s what I call peripheral vision.
It is fitting that I gave a reading in the chapel of my alma mater, as it was here that I began life as a hijabi, here where my faith deepened. During the moving choral song, I remembered my father, who in a similar experience gave a reading from the Qur’an in a church service some thirty years ago. My father may have departed this world, but his attitude and vision, one that sought to build community relations through mutual respect and understanding, lives on in me.
Our beliefs, our creed and our faith expressions are different, contrary, worlds apart even, but this only makes the common ground that we stand upon all the more sacred.