On Thursday, February 7th, 2013 – the Arizona State Senate’s prayer invocation was led by Anas Hlayhel – the Chairman of the Arizona Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-AZ.)
The Fatihah, the first sura of the Qur’an, contains this:
“Guide us in the straight path, the path of those whom Thou hast blessed, not of those against whom Thou art wrathful, nor of those who are astray.” (1:6-7)
The traditional Islamic understanding of this is that the “straight path” is Islam — cf. Islamic apologist John Esposito’s bookÂ 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 that “the two paths He described here are both misguided,” and that those “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.”
Ibn Kathir’s understanding of this passage is not a lone “extremist” interpretation. In fact, 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, theÂ Tafsir al-Jalalayn, theÂ 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.”
Wahhabis drew criticism a few years back for adding “such as the Jews” and “such as the Christians” into parenthetical glosses on this passage in Qur’ans printed in Saudi Arabia. Some Western commentators imagined that the Saudis originated this interpretation, and indeed the whole idea of Qur’anic hostility toward Jews and Christians. They found it inconceivable that Muslims all over the world would learn as a matter of course that the central prayer of their faith anathematizes Jews and Christians.
But unfortunately, this interpretation is venerable and mainstream in Islamic theology. The printing of the interpretation in parenthetical glosses into a translation would be unlikely to affect Muslim attitudes, since the Arabic text is always and everywhere normative in any case, and since so many mainstream commentaries contain the idea that the Jews and Christians are being criticized here. Seventeen times a day, by the pious. And in the Arizona State Senate, with the willing participation of the foolish kuffar.
“CAIR-AZ Chairman Leads Prayer on Arizona Senate Floor,” fromÂ CAIR Arizona, February 7:
On Thursday, February 7th, 2013 – the Arizona State Senate’s prayer invocation was led by Anas Hlayhel – the Chairman of the Arizona Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-AZ.)Hlayhel, who also serves as the part time imam of the Islamic Center of the Northeast Valley led the lawmakers and all those in attendance through the reading of al-Fatiha (the opening chapter of the Holy Quran) in addition to an additional prayer thereafter….