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Common Word, Common Lord

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring 

We are natural allies, Muslims and Jews. We worship the same God. We honor the same Prophets. We have very similar theology and religious law. We both harken to the same patriarch, Abraham. 

Yet, for some reason, and for many years, Muslims and Jews were not always standing together. I suspect it had a lot to do with the conflict in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians. While unfortunate, it was nevertheless reality.

But recent events may be changing this reality. 

In the wake of the election of 2016, there has been a shocking wave of threats directed toward the Jewish community. Most recently, it took the form of bomb threats to JCCs and Synagogues and the desecration of Jewish cemeteries. Muslims, too, have also been the target of repugnant acts of hatred and violence. This includes multiple arson attacks on mosques across the country.

And in response, the Muslim and Jewish community have stood up for each other. 

The Religion News Service detailed how Jews in Florida rallied to help local Muslims who had their mosque attacked by arson. It also outlined  other instances of interfaith support:

When vandals damaged headstones in a Missouri Jewish cemetery last month, Muslim activists raised more than $125,000 to fund repairs.

When a Victoria, Texas, mosque was razed by vandals in late January, members of a local Jewish congregation allowed the displaced Muslim worshippers to worship in their synagogue.

And when vandals toppled more than 100 headstones in a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia last weekend, Muslims and others traveled from other states to repair them.

The Muslim Student Associations of Florida State and Florida A&M universities delivered bouquets of flowers to campus Jewish organizations and local synagogues in a show of solidarity after the two cemetery attacks.

Muslim veterans have offered to help guard Jewish sites.

Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, an anti-Semitism watchdog group, received a standing ovation when he said at a conference that if U.S. Muslims were forced to register with the government, he would register as a Muslim, too.

This truly warms my heart to see, and I pray these recent actions sow the seeds for deep and lasting cooperation and friendship between American Jews and Muslims for many years to come. 

And while I am sad that it took repugnant acts of hatred against the Muslim and Jewish community to motivate this wonderful interfaith work, it is better late than never. And may any differences between Muslims and Jews, either real or perceived, never let them forget who they really are: Children of Abraham who must always stand together. 

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring 

And it came to pass, that, as he [Jesus] was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he [Jesus] said unto them, When ye pray, say, 

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. (Luke 11:1-4)

This is one of my absolute favorite passages of the Bible. It encompasses all the values which I strive to live each and every day as a Muslim. The beginning of the Lord’s Prayer, as it is known, starts with “Our Father in Heaven.”

This “Father in Heaven” is the God whom I worship. Now, of course, I don’t call Him “Father.” Most if the time I call Him “my Lord,” or “my Beloved,” or simply “God.” There are times, however, when I do call him “Allah.”


Now, there are those who claim that “Allah” is some sort of foreign god, not the same God of Jews and Christians. In fact, former Senator and Presidential Candidiate Rick Santorum once said,

“Where do you think this concept of equality comes from? It doesn’t come from Islam. It doesn’t come from the East and Eastern religions…It comes from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that’s where it comes from.” 

Well, the God of Abraham is my God. The Quran says so:

Say: “We believe in God, and in that which has been bestowed from on high upon us, and that which has been bestowed upon Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and their descendants, and that which has been vouchsafed to Moses and Jesus; and that which has been vouchsafed to all the [other] prophets by their Sustainer: we make no distinction between any of them. And it is unto Him that we surrender ourselves.” (2:136)

When a “certain ruler” came to Jesus and asked him, “Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18), Jesus replied: “Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God” (Luke 18:19). The “only thing that is good” according to Jesus is the God Whom I worship.

When, according to the Gospel account in Mark, Jesus was on the cross, he cried out, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). The “El” upon Whom Jesus called is the God that I worship.

The overwhelming majority of Muslims call this God by the Arabic name “Allah.” The word “Allah” comes from the same root word that forms the basis for the words used for God in the Bible: “Elohim,” “ha Elohim,” and “ha Eloh.” Pick up an Arabic translation of the Bible, and you will find that the word for God is none other than “Allah.”

What’s more, the very name that Jesus Christ, who spoke Aramaic and not Greek (the original language of the New Testament), is none other than “Alaha,” which is the Aramaic name for God.

The God that I worship as a Muslim is the God of us all. His name has changed from epoch to epoch and people to people, but He is the self-same God of the universe, our Loving Creator Who gave us life and sustains it for us.

Muslims may call Him “Allah,” many Christians may call Him “Father”; to me, there is no difference. What is most important is this: for people of faith, our common belief in a common Lord should serve to help us work together.

Even for those who don’t believe in God, the fact that I do doesn’t alienate me from them. Because of my belief in God, I want to live and work with everyone: to make my America and my world a much better place for all.

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring


It happened again today: more bomb threats targeted Jewish Community Centers all across the country, including right here in my home town of Chicago. As reported on CNN’s website:

“I’ve been in the business for 20-plus years, and this is unprecedented,” said Paul Goldenberg, national director of the Secure Community Network, which advises Jewish organizations on security. “It’s more methodical than meets the eye.” No bombs have been found, but Jewish leaders hesitate to label the calls “hoaxes.” The chaos and terror the calls have caused are real, as are more tangible consequences.

This comes on the same day as an attack on a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis. As the Huffington Post reports, “There have now been at least 67 incidents at 56 Jewish Community Centers in 27 states and one Canadian province since the start of 2017…”
This is wrong. This is un-American. As an American Muslim, I must speak out against this unprecedented wave of anti-Semitic hatred just as much as I speak out against Islamophobic attacks across our country.
There is no room in our country for religious hatred, no matter the faith of the perpetrator or the victim. A bomb threat against a Jewish Community Center, or a Synagogue is an attack on all houses of worship. I am just as offended when a Sikh Gurudwara is attacked as when a mosque is vandalized. An attack on any religious institution is an attack on all. We stand together, or we all fall down.
My sister, Eman Hassaballa Aly, penned an important piece in Patheos about the urgent need for Muslims to stand with all and forge alliances with other communities in the wake of the new Administration:
It’s time to make alliances with folks we don’t typically ally with. It’s time to have difficult conversations about difficult subjects. It’s time to recognize who has stood up for us and stand up for them as well, even if we don’t align theologically — we align as humans. It’s time to really be honest about how we can improve and where we failed. It’s time to say sorry for being not so nice to one another. It’s also time to stop criticizing people openly and so frequently.
Let me do my part and say to the Jewish community: I stand with you. May God protect you and all your community centers and places of worship. And may God protect us all from the hatred that has reared its ugly head in our country. Amen.

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring 

A while back, I discussed the fact that the new Trump Administration seems to espouse a “dark view of Islam,” in the words of the New York Times, and this “dark view” colors every thing with respect to terrorism, extremism, and some aspects of foreign policy.

Yet, Trump and other members of the new Administration are not the only ones who have a “dark view” of Islam.

The savages who act in Islam’s name – such as ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda – also espouse this  “dark view of Islam.” They espouse a satanic, violent interpretation that is alien to the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the world.


What’s more: many Muslims, including this one, have insisted time and again that these savages “have nothing to do with Islam,” and I know that, when we say this, so many people react to this statement with utter disbelief.

This is because it is absolutely true that, for every act of sheer barbarity committed by savages such as ISIS, an Islamic text can be found to buttress it. It is absolutely true that the savages who act in Islam’s name can point to something in Islamic tradition that can justify their crimes.

So, how can Muslims like me say that ISIS has “nothing to do with Islam”?

It is because – while indeed Islamic sacred text can be cited to cover for horrific atrocities – the understanding of these texts by the overwhelming majority of Muslims and Muslim scholars are completely different than that of the savages. I read the very same texts as the savages and come away with a completely different view.

I, and the overwhelming majority of Muslims, understand that the Islamic texts that seem to justify acts of barbarism have a context: a linguistic, historical, cultural, and textual context. I, and the overwhelming majority of Muslims, read these texts in those specific contexts and comprehend that they do not represent the normative understanding of Islam that has buttressed thousands of years of Islamic civilization.

It is exactly akin to my home town of Chicago. Almost every day, there are headlines of horrific shootings that take the lives of innocent people, including one that recently killed a 2-year-old girl. Yet, those of us who live in Chicago know that this terrible fact does not represent the truth of Chicago, which is a truly wonderful city in which to live and raise a family. 

It is also akin to calling every American who voted for Trump a “racist,” just because there were indeed some of his supporters who openly espoused racist views. The whole can never be smeared by the sins of the few, and this applies to Islam just as much as it applies to Trump supporters or the city of Chicago.

Admittedly, it is a little frustrating having to deal with a President and Administration that seemingly can’t differentiate between all Muslims and the tiny minority of its criminals (case in point: the Muslim ban). But, they are not the only ones who espouse this “dark view of Islam.” 

The savages who commit barbarism in Islam’s name also have a “dark view of Islam,” and as a Muslim, it is my duty to speak out against them, and combat this “dark view” with calm, patience, and peace. 

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

Black-History-Month

 

 

 

 

 

Let us leave aside several facts:

1. African-American Muslims have been an integral part of the civil rights struggle in America for decades. A substantial portion of the slaves brought to America were Muslim, and thus, Black History is American Muslim history. 

2. The Quran exhorts the believer to stand up for justice, even if it means bearing witness against his or her own family or community:

O You who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against your own selves or your parents and kinsfolk. Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, God’s claim takes precedence over [the claims of] either of them. Do not, then, follow your own desires, lest you swerve from justice: for if you distort [the truth], behold, God is indeed aware of all that you do! (4:135)

O you who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of any-one lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. Be just: this is closest to being God-conscious. And remain conscious of God: verily, God is aware of all that you do. (5:8)

3.  The Quran also holds Muslims to a high standard: “Enjoining the good and forbidding evil”:

You are indeed the best community that has ever been brought forth for [the good of] mankind: you enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and you believe in God… (3:110)

4. It is part of our faith as Muslims to stand up for those who are oppressed, no matter who they are. 

5.  Scores of African-Americans (Muslims among them) fought, marched, protested, bled, and even died to give me the privilege to live where I live, work where I work, and vote where I vote. Black History Month commemorates and honors their most important part of our American history. As an American Muslim, I am forever indebted to their sacrifice. 

Let us leave all that aside, as important as that is, for just a moment.

If for no other reason, we American Muslims have to show up and take our place at the vanguard of those fighting for the rights of others, because so many fellow Americans showed up and stood up for us, including African-Americans.

Look at the thousands upon thousands of ordinary Americans who showed up at airports all across our country to object to the Muslim ban. Look at the thousands upon thousands of ordinary Americans who showed up to mosques and show their support. Look at the thousands upon thousands of ordinary Americans who letting this Administration know that discrimination is not who we are as a nation and a people.

It is so very heartening, and I am so very grateful to God for such beautiful neighbors.

Now, this is not to say that American Muslims have not fought for the rights of others. On the contrary, Muslims have been among the leaders of the fight for social justice.

Nevertheless, from this point and forever forward, American Muslims cannot shirk their responsibility to stand up for the rights of all who are oppressed; from this point and forever forward, American Muslims must see the struggles of others as their struggles; from this point and forever forward, an affront to justice against anyone else must be an affront to them personally.

We are already seeing heartening signs of this in the Trump Administration, and it must continue and strengthen over time. If the exhortations of the Qur’an to stand up for justice are not enough, then the extraordinary support that ordinary Americans have shown their Muslim neighbors must motivate American Muslims to stand up for their neighbors who are oppressed. Failure to do so would be a travesty of ingratitude.

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

“Islam is not a religion of peace — Islam is a religion of submission.”

Thus said Steve Bannon, top strategist for President Trump, on a radio show. As the New York Times reported in a recent article entitled, “Trump Pushes Dark View of Islam to Center of US Policy-Making”:

“The hateful ideology of radical Islam,” [President Trump] told supporters, must not be “allowed to reside or spread within our own communities.” Mr. Trump was echoing a strain of anti-Islamic theorizing familiar to anyone who has been immersed in security and counterterrorism debates over the last 20 years. He has embraced a deeply suspicious view of Islam that several of his aides have promoted, notably retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, now his national security adviser, and Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s top strategist.


Out of this view came the recent executive order banning the entry of anyone from 7 Muslim-majority countries into the United States, popularly known as the “Muslim ban.” Other things may follow, and there is no small amount of fear that more draconian measures aimed at the Muslim community are coming in the months and years ahead. 

May God protect us all. 

But, is there something we can do? Is there is something we can do to combat this “dark view of Islam”?

Yes, there is. We can teach. 

We can teach, with patience and love, about our faith. We can teach, with calm and clarity, about how, yes Islam is a “religion of submission,” but not submission to “Sharia law.” But, rather, submission to the will of God. It echoes this verse from the Bible:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3: 5-6)

We can teach, and this is what I am setting out to do. I will teach my fellow Americans, members of my American family, the truth about my faith. And I pray my words can bring some semblance of light in these increasingly dark times. Amen. 

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border.

Thus said President Trump in the wake of the furor over the so-called “Muslim ban,” the Executive Order signed by the President suspending the entry of refugees, especially from Syria, and blocking the entry of visitors from 7 Muslim-majority nations: Libya, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen.

Let me say this: I completely agree with his statement. We absolutely have to protect our citizens and our borders from everyone – Muslim or not – who seeks to do our people and our country harm. We have to know who is coming into our country and what they intend to do. That’s just common sense. No one would disagree with this.
The issue is this: banning everyone from Iraq – or Iran, or Yemen, or Somalia –  because there are some Iraqis – or Iranians, or Yemenis, or Somalis – who are terrorists smacks of discrimination. It demonizes the whole for the sins of the few. No community deserves this. What’s more, it will probably do more damage than good, as one case in point illustrates:

U.S. diplomats in Baghdad complained the ban would keep a top Iraqi general in the ISIS fight from visiting family in the U.S., stop General Electric from hosting Iraqi delegates in the U.S. as part of a $2 billion energy deal, and send the wrong signal to some 62,000 applicants being considered for relocation for aiding the U.S. during the war. That was among the possible fallout of the new policy, listed in a letter obtained by The Wall Street Journal, sent Saturday from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad to the State Department.

Yet, there is something else. Shutting the door on visitors from only Muslim countries – again, because some Muslims in those countries are terrorists – is simply un-American. It is not who we are as a people. It is not who we are as a country. Yes, there are Muslims who hate us. But we are better than they. Our values are better than their sick, twisted ideology. As our former First Lady said, “When they go low, we go high.”

Now, while I believe that our country is a beautiful secular republic wherein people of all faiths, or no faith, can live and work together in peace and brotherhood, let us grant the contention of some that America was founded upon Judeo-Christian values.

This ban on refugees, therefore, is wholly un-Christian.

Here are just some of the Biblical verses that talk about the stranger and refugees (thanks to United Church of Christ for this list):

 

Exodus 22:21 – Moses gives God’s law:  “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien; for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

Leviticus 19:33-34 and 24:22 – When the alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien.  The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt:  I am the Lord your God.”

Deuteronomy 1:16 – “Give the members of your community a fair hearing, and judge rightly between one person and another, whether citizen or resident alien.”

Deuteronomy 10:18-19 – “For the Lord your God…loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing.  You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Deuteronomy 27:19 – “Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien…of justice.”

Jeremiah 7:5-7 – “If you do not oppress the alien…then I will dwell with you in this place…”

Jeremiah 22:3-5 – Do no wrong or violence to the alien.

Matthew 5:10-11 –“Blessed are those who are persecuted.”

Matthew 25:31-46 – “…I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

Luke 4:16-21 – “…Bring good news to the poor…release to the captives…sight to the blind…let the oppressed go free.”

Romans 12:13 – “Mark of the true Christian: “…Extend hospitality to strangers…”

I John 4:7-21 – “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God…”  We love because God first loved us.”

 

The Islamic tradition has a very similar exhortation to protect the stranger. Whichever way we look at it, this ban on refugees and visitors from some Muslim countries – the list of which will likely grow over time – betrays our true values as Americans and believers in the One God of Abraham. I pray that our leaders are given the wisdom to see the error of this decision.

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

It is no secret that the result of the election was not one for which I was hoping. That said, I am not going to go as far – with all due respect and admiration – to say that Donald J. Trump is not a legitimate President. He is our President, and he was chosen by our people to lead our country. And so, as he is set to take office on January 20, I offer this prayer, imagining what I would say if I was asked to pray at the Inauguration:

Inaguration Photo

Precious Beloved Lord our God:

By Your Eternal Grace and Mercy and Love do we all stand here today

By Your Eternal Grace and Mercy and Love does our democracy flourish

Whereas in so many other places in our world, with people just as honorable as we, there are “Presidents for life,” or “Presidents for one billion years,” or election results with 99.9% of the vote going to one candidate, we stand here today – in Your Grace and Mercy and Love – witnessing, yet again in our nation’s history, the peaceful transition of power.

This is a Grace that cannot be understated, and for this, our Lord, we thank You tremendously.

And so, Precious Beloved, as the new Administration takes the reins of our most beautiful nation, I ask that you bless all of those standing here.

Endow our leaders with wisdom and forbearance; endow them with grace and poise; endow them with the ability to always see each other as brothers and sisters, even if they vehemently disagree.

Bless our leaders with the vision and foresight to do what is right for all of us. Let them always remember that right is might, and not the other way around. Let them always remember that the power they wield is a trust from You, and Lord always keep in their mind’s eye that this power should never be abused.

Beloved Lord, there is much division in our country today. Beloved Lord, there is much that tears apart at our fabric as a nation and a people. Please, O Lord, heal us of rancor toward our American brothers and sisters. Protect us from never seeing the humanity of the other, despite our disagreements. Keep away from us the Evil Whisperer, whose very aim is to destroy our unity by making hatred reign supreme among us.

And finally, O Lord, please let us never forget that we, despite all that makes us different, are still one American family, shining ever so brightly under You, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

In Your Most Holy Name do I ask these things. Amen.

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

All throughout my life – in various months of the year, in various mosques across the world – I have heard, in beautiful and melodious Arabic, the story of Christmas:

AND CALL to mind, through this divine writ, Mary. Lo! She withdrew from her family to an eastern place and kept herself in seclusion from them, whereupon We sent unto her Our angel of revelation, who appeared to her in the shape of a well-made human being. She exclaimed: “Verily, ‘I seek refuge from thee with the Most Gracious! [Approach me not] if thou art conscious of Him!” [The angel] answered: “I’ am but a messenger of thy Lord, [who says,] `I shall bestow upon thee the gift of a son endowed with purity.'” Said she: “How can I have a son when no man has ever touched me? – for, never have I been unchaste?” [The angel] answered: “Thus it is; [but] thy Sustainer says, `This is easy for Me; and [thou shalt have a son,] so that We might make him a symbol unto mankind and an act of grace from US. And it was a thing decreed [by God].

At one time, I did not understand the Arabic being recited. As I became older, however, God opened up to me the doors of Arabic understanding, and my admiration and love for the passages in the Qur’an about the birth of Christ only grew in strength. The verse quoted above is only a small part of a longer passage that details the birth of Christ and the scandal it engendered among the people at the time. And that passage also includes the miracle of a newborn Jesus speaking to the people in defense of his mother: 

[But] he [Jesus] said: “Behold, I am a servant of God. He has vouchsafed unto me revelation and made me a prophet, and made me blessed wherever I may be; and He has enjoined upon me prayer and charity as long as I live, and [has endowed me with] piety towards my mother; and He has not made me haughty or bereft of grace. “Hence, peace was upon me on the day when I was born, and [will be upon me] on the day of my death, and on the day when I shall be raised to life [again]!”

These verses occur in the 19th chapter of the Qur’an, aptly named “Mary,” and it isn’t the only place in which the story of the birth of Christ is recounted. There are dozens of verses in the Quran that speak about the miracles of Jesus (5:110), the Last Supper (5:113-115), among many others. His mother, the Virgin Mary, is the only woman mentioned by name in the Qur’an. Christ, in fact, is mentioned more times in the Qur’an than the Prophet Muhammad himself. 

If only more people knew this truth about Islam and its deep love and honor for Jesus Christ. If only more people knew that belief in, and love for, Jesus Christ and his mother is an essential aspect of Islamic faith. If only more people knew that no devout Muslim would dare attack and malign Jesus Christ or his mother as some purported followers of Christ have done with the Prophet Muhammad. 

In the aftermath of a brutal election, in which the rhetoric against Islam and Muslims was so toxic solely for craven political gain, Christians and Muslims need to come together on areas in which they agree: a common love for Jesus Christ. Ideally, Christians, Muslims, and Jews should be the closest of religious communities, for they have so much in common as the living spiritual children of Abraham. 

Yes, there are savages (“barbarian” is too nice a word) who claim to act in Islam’s name that commit horrific crimes against Christians, including the recent attacks in Cairo and Berlin. These satanic monsters betray both the letter and spirit of Islam, which teaches deep love for Jesus Christ and respect and honor for his followers. 

Peace was upon me on the day when I was born,” the infant Jesus says in the Qur’an. As we approach December 25, the day Christians celebrate this momentous occasion, I pray that this very same peace reigns over our world and over all of us who live on it. I pray that this very same peace reigns over all communities of faith, so that the forces of hatred and division do not win the day. And I pray that this very same peace reigns over our country in the months and years ahead, and that we emerge an even greater people than we already are. 

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

 

Beautiful Beloved Lord my God,

You know, better than anyone in this universe, how I would quickly gloss over the horrific images coming out of Syria and Aleppo

You know, better than anyone in this universe, how I would try to always put the thoughts of what’s happening there out of my mind

And You know, better than anyone in this universe, that it was because I was ashamed; ashamed at my inability to do anything to help them

There is plenty of blame to go around for the carnage in Syria.

We, the entire human community, failed the innocents in Syria

Yet, worse yet, we – the Muslim community – failed the innocents of Syria even more

You told us that they are our sisters and brothers; You told us that You made their lives sacred

Yet, the Muslim world failed them. And it failed them miserably.

What’s worse, as You know, Muslims were actively involved in the carnage.

Savages – posing as Your “warriors” – committed horrific atrocities in Your name

And others – who claim to rule by Your law – fuel the fires of conflict on both sides

The shame of this horrible war is too ugly to bear, O Beautiful Lord, and there is nothing left to say.

Except, O Lord, I am sorry.

Forgive me for my inability to help.

Forgive me for my indifference.

Forgive me for not doing more to help the innocents who suffered so much.

Please, O Lord, do not judge me harshly for my failures.

Please, O Lord, look upon me with Grace, Mercy, and Love, despite my weakness

Please, O Lord, accept me into Your Presence despite the ugliness of my conduct on earth

And please, O Lord, shower Your Grace, Your Mercy, and Your Comfort on all those who are suffering, not only in Syria, but all over the world.

Please, O Lord, grace us with Your Mercy, otherwise we will all be forever lost.

Amen.