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This morning a strange thing happened! I have occasionally opened our group discussion with a reference to Mohammed’s opening prayer. In English a rough translation is – In the Name of Allah, The Merciful, the Compassionate, Praise be to Allah the merciful the compassionate, the Master of the Day of Judgment. You alone we seek to please, You alone we beg for help. Direct us along the proper paths, the paths of those whom you do favor, Away from those you hate, Away from those that lead us astray.

Being of a Western civil society and a Christian-controlled religious background most of the people present were not aware of the Opening Prayer. When it was recited as above there was a discussion of its meaning, and how those ideas should be applied. The tone was one of inquiry and wondering what the proper paths, or path, should be. We covered several possibilities, but being a self-motivated and personally seeking group of people, the question arose as to whether that prayer could be referring to oneself as the guiding spirit.

The Opening was then recited again with each person thinking of themselves as the guiding spirit, the one that should be trusted, the one that should be followed. It reads well that way, but we all agreed it didn’t appear to be what the Muslims who are seen on TV were doing. After a brief discussion we moved on to other topics, but it leaves a question in my mind that needs further consideration.

To whom and to what is the Opening telling us to attend to?