Oct. 25th Upland Interfaith Prayer Breakfast a Feast of Ideals and Unity
by Imam Shamshad Nassir
Wednesday, Oct. 25th marked the 16th annual interfaith Prayer Breakfast held in Upland at the local fire station. About 120 people from various Faiths gathered for an early morning breakfast featuring fruits, potatoes, eggs, kosher / halal meats, juice, tea, coffee, muffins and assorted pastries.
The morning’s spiritual food was provided by area civic and religious leaders, who offered prayers and insightful comments, beginning with uplifting introductory remarks, an invocation and the blessing of the meal by Rev. Jim Rhoads of First United Methodist Church of Upland.
The theme of this year’s prayer breakfast was “Love for All, Hatred for None,” which is the motto of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
Introductions and acknowledgements were done by Marilee Rhoads, followed by the new mayor of Upland, Ray Musser, who gave a heart-wrenching story about his son and daughter, both battling terminal diseases, and how through faith, prayer and patience they have overcome their ailments and are now living healthy and productive lives.
Cantor Paul Buch from Temple Beth Israel livened up the crowd with a guitar-backed sing-along audience participation number.
Next up was William Lesher, the past president of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, who said that “Love for All, Hatred for None” was an appropriate motto that the followers of all religions should embrace and strive to embody in their daily lives for the betterment of themselves and the world.
Imam Shamshad A. Nasir from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s Baitul Hameed Mosque in Chino recited a soul-stirring prayer from the Holy Quran, chapter 18 verse 11, which refers to the early Christians who sought refuge from persecution in the catacombs in Rome where they prayed: “Our Lord, bestow on us mercy from Thyself, and furnish us with right guidance in our affair.” Imam Shamshad ended his remarks by reading from the wisdom of the Promised Messiah and founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, on the topic of the conditions for the divine acceptance of prayer. The Imam quoted the Promised Messiah, who said that God does not accept the prayers of those who have cruelty in their hearts, those who are disobedient to God and His prophets, and those who are the transgressors, doing evil and creating disorder in the land.
Attorney Soheila Azizi of the Bahai faith spoke passionately about the Iranian Christian minister facing a death sentence or life in prison for leaving Islam for Christianity. Her story ended with: “Let us all pray that the people of not only Iran, but all nations, have the freedom to worship as they please.” Bahais are also heavily persecuted in Iran by the Shia political and religious majority in that country.
Next, Mario Raven from First United Methodist Church of Upland got busy on the keyboard with some good ol’ down-home Baptist revival music and singing that took many a participant back to their Gospel roots, even some who were now Muslim.
Rev. Jan Chase from Unity Church of Pomona then took the podium and recounted the well-known story of the group of blind people where each one was given a different part of an elephant to feel and try to deduce what they perceived the elephant to be. The point being, that all perspectives and evidence need to be weighed collectively to arrive at the truth of the matter, not just relying on one source of information.
After final remarks by Marilee Rhoads, the closing prayer was led by Steve Serembe of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church.
Cantor Paul Buch closed the festivities with another group sing-along that left everyone sated and serene, with “Love for All, Hatred for None” firmly implanted in their hearts and minds.
Sat, October 29, 2011
by Imam Shamshad Nassir