Russia TLIG Magazine

T L I G M A G A Z I N E I S S U E - 3 9 69 fore his mission, the young Qurayshite Muhammad had been recognized as the expected future Prophet of the Arabs. During a trip to Syria, he was identified as such when he was only twelve years old. It was a monk named Bahira who, versed in the sacred wri- tings and acquainted with certain prophecies, spotted him during his stopover in front of his convent, and who, having interrogated him and having verified cer- tain physical signs on him, was convinced of his future apostolate. The diagnosis was confirmed fifteen years later, during a second trip to the same place, by the monk Nestor who was probably a successor of Bahira. Subsequently, at the advent of the new religion, it was the cousin of his wife, Waraqa ibn Nawfal, who had embraced Christianity, who testified to the authenti- city of his elective role. Soon after, when confronted with the persecutions that were multiplying, a first group of Muslims was forced to emigrate from Mec- ca and found refuge in Abyssinia ( Ethiopian Empire ) with the Negus (the Monarch) . Of Christian faith, the latter assured them of his royal protection. One can evaluate, from this simple summary, what the Muslims owe to the Christians of the time! Accepting my request, the Father-Abbot of Cîteaux, whose benevolence towards us never ceased, accepted generously to watch over the protection of our small community. A friendship was thus sealed and it be- came even stronger in the course of time. Meetings to share our experiences on our respective community and spiritual lives were organized and became regu- lar. On a monthly basis, we began by exchanging our views on the data of our Sacred Texts, our rites, etc. Then the question of a common prayer soon came up. Since there was no question of conforming to any form of syncretism, it was agreed to accomplish together a “prayer of the heart” whose silent nature would make it possible to escape any problem of compatibility. Subsequently, the desire for a shared invocation ha- ving been manifested, it was necessary to find a text suitable for it. The choice was made for a magnificent prayer by Gregory of Nazianz (329-390) which was perfectly appropriate. Addressed to the one and su- preme God, the praise begins with this call: O Thou Who art beyond all, what else may we rightly call Thee? It goes on to say: All things, both the speaking and the speechless, proclaim Thee... To Thee is the prayer of all... O Most-Named, how then shall I address Thee? Other initiatives were also taken as the ritual of washing the hands and the feet to commemorate the Abrahamic rituals of the Oak of Mamre (cf. Genesis 18:1-10) and the good welcome given to Jesus coming as a stran- ger (cf. Matthew 25:35). To this last reference and its mention in extenso , echoes also a holy hadith ( hadith qudsi ) where, on the Day of Resurrection, God makes this reproach to man: “I was sick and you did not visit Me.“ The man will inquire: “Oh Lord how would I have visited You when You are the Lord of the Worlds?” He will answer him: “Did you not know that one of My servants was sick? But you did not visit him. And don’t you know that if you had visited him, you would have found Me near him?” If the happy rapprochement between our communi- ties enjoyed a blessed space, it must be said that the time was also, from the beginning, particularly auspi- cious. On August 20, 1994, the new Burgundian seat of the Tariqa was inaugurated on St. Bernard’s Day. It turns out that this date marked a rather exceptional moment of conjunction. That year, on the 20th of Au- gust, the solar calendar corresponded to the Mawlid an-Nabi , that is to say on the anniversary of the Birth of the Prophet on the 12th of the month of Rabi al- Awwal of the lunar calendar. The likelihood of such a coincidence is low, given that the year is 365 days and a quarter according to the first calculation and 354 days and a third according to the second, which results in a lag of approximately 11 days between the two annual cycles and one year roughly every 33 years. What added value to this astonishing and rare conjunction is that it seems to have occurred precisely at the very birth of the Prophet, if one relies on the data of Martin Lings, the author of a biography of the the Prophet (cf . Le Prophète Muhammad , chapter 7, p.33, Paris, 1977). In order for this kind of harmony to exist, so that the ensuing peace can last, it is necessary, above all, that the actors would be people predominantly animated by right intention and goodwill, having in view the interest of God in their work. To be convinced of this, it should only remember the praise transmitted by Saint Luke (2:14) and based on the Vulgate es- tablished by St. Jerome: Gloria in altissimis Deo and in terra pax in hominibus bonae voluntatis (“Glory To God in the highest heaven and Peace on earth to men of Good Will”). It is obvious that this communication is too brief to answer correctly the question: How to bridge our di- visions and bring peace to the world? Doubtless, it raises more questions than it answers. I hope, however, that it will be seen as a first contribution to the more than ever necessary implementation of constructive meetings for peace.