"

…but there are many other legends about saints that have no basis in fact at all. On particularly embarrassing example of this is the story of St. Josaphat. According to the religious romance ‘Barlaam and Josaphat,’ Josaphat was an Indian prince who was converted to Christianity by the hermit Barlaam. Astrologers had predicted at his birth that he would rule over a great kingdom, the kingdom of glory, a prediction that led his father to shut the boy away in seclusion. Despite his father’s best efforts to keep him from the world, Josaphat realized the horror of the human predicament through encounters with a leper, a blind man, and a dying man. His view of the world thrown into jeopardy, he then met Barlaam the hermit, converted, and spent the remainder of his life in quiet contemplation of the divine.

If this story sounds familiar, it should. It’s nothing but a Christian version of the life of Siddhartha Gautama, the Indian prince who became the Buddha. This is no secret, but it’s no common knowledge either. Since the nineteenth century scholars have recognized the similar lie and acknowledged that this story is simply the legend of Siddhartha thinly covered in a Christian glaze. It isn’t just the broad plot details that are similar; minute plot details as even phraseology are identical. Even the name Josaphat is just a corruption of the word Bodisat or Bodhisattva (the letters y/j and b are easily mistaken for each other in Arabic), a title for the Buddha or an enlightened person. The transformation of the Buddha into a Christian saint took many generations; the roots of the story can be traces back to a Sanskrit Mahayana Buddhist version of the tale, which was filtered through Manichaean and Arabic sources.

"

Candida Moss, The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom (New York: HarperOne, 2013), 88-89.

All that she left out was that the story was originally a Muslim appropriation of the Buddha story before the Christians took it.

Either way, go home medieval Christian hagiographers, you’re drunk.

I finished reading “Towards Understanding Islam” by Abul A’la Maududi today. It was a fascinating read seeing as it was the first book about Islam written by a practicing Muslim that I have been able to get my hands on. 

The book was really interesting to read for a few reasons that I’ll list out:

  • Maududi was one of the most influential Muslim revivalists of the 20th century.
  • He was an influential political philosopher in India and what later became Pakistan.
  • Maududi was the founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami, the primary Islamist Revivalist Political party in Pakistan. 

Essentially, Maududi was and is a huge freaking deal for Muslim Political Thought and Middle-Eastern history. From a Political Science standpoint my having read this book is awesome. 

"It is compassion that conquers. It is unity that conquers. It is Allah’s good qualities, behavior, and actions that conquer others. It is this state that is called Islam. The sword doesn’t conquer; love is sharper than the sword. Love is an exalted, gentle sword."

Bawa Muhaiyadeen, Islam and World Peace: Explanations of a Sufi, 34.

Can we all just bask in the awesomeness that is Sufi Muslim nonviolence? 

"…the best work of faith, as the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) had said, is “to speak a word of truth to an unjust ruler.”"
— Rabia Terri Harris, Subverting Hatred: The Challenge of Nonviolence in Religious Traditions, Edited by Daniel L. Smith-Christopher, p. 112.

Here is the order of how I’m going to go about this attempt to learn and pray the prayers of other faiths:

Ash Wednesday to Saturday-Non-Protestant
Week 1-Judaism
Week 2-Islam
Week 3-Native Religions
Week 4-Hinduism
Week 5-Buddhism
Holy Week-Return to Traditional Prayers

I’m already doing the traditional “give up meat” thing for Lent. That’s a mainstay. But I have my official Lenten task out before me.

While inspired by my dear fellow bloggers practicing Atheism for Lent (great idea by the way folks), I could not participate because of the heavy load of reading I already have for class.

But I still wanted to do something different.

So during the Lenten season I will take on the practice of praying the prayers of other faiths. I’ll have more info on what order and how I’m structuring this tomorrow, but that is my plan in a nutshell.

I’m taking a world religions class this semester so I think this will also tie in well with my current studies. Also, I’m in a state of reexamining my exact understanding of how a (post-)Christian is to relate to other faiths; this could be a great way to dive deeper into that.

That is all. Questions? Comments? Alternative points of view?

Check out this article where after a mosque burned down in Joplin churches are offering their facilities so their Muslim brothers and sisters can have a space to celebrate Ramadan. Stuff like this warms my heart.