There were prayers offered on September 11th, 2001. And, there will be prayers on September 11th, 2011. Some religious leaders in central Kentucky have offered their thoughts on the shape of those 9-11 prayers. People of various faiths will pray this weekend, ten years after the worst terrorist attack on U-S soil. Those prayers will come from within Kentucky’s Muslim community.
“As people relive the horrible events of that day, it’s natural for people to turn to God in such times,” said Ihsan Bagby. There will be prayers within the Jewish community. "My prayer is that we do more than show up at an event to hear these nice words and that we do more to show up in each other’s lives,” said Marc Kline. And, prayers within the Christian community.“We remember the dead, we remember the sufferings, we remember the tragedies. And we pray to live into what ever we can learn, live into the society that is somehow shaped out of our grief for something better,” said Kent Gilbert.
Doctor Ihsan Bagby, who’s a professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Kentucky, Rabbi Marc Kline with Lexington’s Temple Adath Israel. And Kent Gilbert, pastor at Berea’s Union church.
As Christians worship this weekend, Kent Gilbert hopes to see unity among faith groups. He pastors Union Church, which has long sponsored non-denominational gatherings. Gilbert’s suggestions for 9-11 prayers were distributed by the Kentucky Council of Churches.
“I wrote prayers that would list nine different aspects of these memories of these influences and of the relationships affected by 9-11, with the present tense response oh God of …then one of the spiritual gifts…we are in your presence and are healed,” said Gilbert.
Those elements of a good prayer are outlined in Galatians in the Bible’s New Testament, and include truthfulness, justice, grace, comfort, peace and forgiveness.
A group of Muslim men lined up recently shoulder to shoulder in Richmond to offer prayers. It was part the month long Ramadan commemoration. They bowed and kneeled several times.
Doctor Ihsan Bagby says that is considered ‘ritual’ prayer, one of three types of prayer in the Muslim faith. While these prayers involve the reciting of specific words, Bagby says, in private, Muslims offer up prayers of compassion and support. He says this is when prayer may be offered for the victims of 9-11.
“And Muslims are encouraged to make personal supplication both in the prayer, in fact, in the prostration they are encouraged to make personal supplication, but also on their own,” added Bagby.
Bagby says many Muslims today worry they’re more the target of prejudice than they were immediately after the terror attacks. He says Muslims pray for the defeat of extremism and that the U-S Muslim community becomes a full member of the American society.
Rabbi Marc Kline says different people have different definitions of ‘God.’ For example, people may see God as taking a side…being a Jewish God or a Muslim God or a Christian God. As they offer up prayers this weekend, the Rabbi says people must remember God is not the property of a single denomination. Kline hopes the faithful will remember a passage out of Deuteronomy.
“Hear oh Israel, the Lord is our God the Lord is one. And they will say that in a lot of different forms. Then they will talk about my God versus your God as if Adonai in Hebrew, God in English, Allah in Arabic are three different Gods,” said Kline.
Kline hopes to see prayers offered that are a reflection on 9-11. He worries too often prayers are said with little thought to ‘what’s next.’
“I think, at the risk of being really controversial, most people who utter prayers a good part of that prayer is that empty prayer. We say things, meaning them even at the moment with our hearts..I think..but then we go about doing our daily business and somehow forget the words that we had just uttered,” explained Kline.
Rabbi Kline says people who want to use God for their own aim don’t need the 9-11 attacks as an excuse, but they will use it.