Thursday, May 21, 2009

Scriptural Reasoning in Qom

Today we had our first scriptural reading session here in Qom at the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute.
This was a sort of trial session. We all benefited from it and agreed that we should try to have this take place on a regular basis starting next Fall. Our topic was prayer. The participants were:
Mr. Abaie of the Jewish faith, Wally and Evie Shellenberger, our Mennonite friends who will be returning to the US in ten days, and Seyyed Hassani and Dr. Shomali represented Shi'a Islam, and I acted as a sort of moderator, although I didn't do any moderating other than to introduce everyone and indicate starting. So, we had a very small group with unequal religious representation, but it went very well and everyone asked some good questions. Mr. Abaie started by reading Psalm 145 in Hebrew and translating it into Farsi as he went along, also throwing in some explanation between the lines. When he finished, the others asked him questions. One of the interesting points he mentioned was the way the lines in Hebrew start with each of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, a sequence also used in Arabic and called "abjad". He also explained a bit about the Jewish prayer schedule. Then the Shellenbergers read Matt. 6: 7-15; Mark 1:35; Philippians 4: 6-7; and I Thessalonians 5:17. They read the text in English and commented after every verse or two on what they thought was interesting or important. This was followed by some questions about the original language of the text and their very brief remarks about the problems of manuscripts and the formation of the canon of the New Testament. Evie also spoke about what it means to pray constantly and about using prayer beads as a reminder. Next Dr. Shomali read from the Qur'an, 2:186; 8:24; 40:60; and 25:77, in Arabic with English and Farsi translation as he went (all participants understand both English and Farsi). Mr. Abaie pointed out the similarity between the reference to divine nearness in connection with prayer in both the readings from the Qur'an and the Psalms. Dr. Shomali pointed out that in the Qur'an we are told that God is near to all, while in the Psalm it was stated that God is near to those who call Him, and he reconciled them with the comment that there is a sense in which we are calling on God with our very being. There was a good spirit of inquiry and camaraderie throughout the session. When it ended we all thanked one another and God for the blessing. We are grateful for the encouragement of both Prof. Ochs, without whose efforts it would never have occurred to us to try something like this, and to Susan Harrison for all her advice, and Abbot Timothy Wright who also encouraged us. We agreed that in the future we would like to involve Iranian Christians and have sessions with three or four people from each of the three faith traditions. God willing, we will try to arrange regular sessions after Ramadan, and perhaps we can have a rotating venue, too.


Blogger Syed said...

Prof. Legenhausen:

I'd like to get in touch with you via phone or email. Please reply to

Syed Naqi.

21 May, 2009 23:27  
Blogger A Truth Seeker said...

Dear Sir, I was born in a family where my dad is a Muslim while my mom is a Buddhist, but as free thinkers we have no problem with religion and personal believes whatsoever. We respect each other’s feeling as human beings, second comes the religion. My dad goes to mosque, while my mom visits Buddhist monasteries, and my brother and sister, and me we follow them both. I hardly claim myself expert in either Buddhist philosophy or Islamic Quran, but recently, I just thought of having a look into them. Going through little bit of Quran, there I found things which I find quite contradictory to what I believe, and I find there are things that don’t answer to my questions. So I have been looking for helps to clarify some of my doubts about Islam from the Islamic scholars or experts rather. But I dare not ask my dad as I never want to hurt him. And most Islamic priests I know are quite traditional. So I believe perhaps I can have a discussion with you as I believe you are a man who see things with logic and reasons rather than just depending on mere faith and that would surely help me to get a better understanding about Islam.

Here is my Blog ( where I want to discuss about Islam with you if you are willing to..

30 May, 2009 22:22  
Blogger Laurie said...

Great post! Wish we were there to join in.

06 June, 2009 00:06  
Blogger astridfrefel said...

Prof. Legenhausen
I would like to get in touch with you via e-mail - could you please send a mail to:
with best regards
Astrid Frefel, Kairo

06 July, 2009 12:12  
Blogger kawthar said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

04 September, 2009 18:08  
Blogger kawthar said...

Dr. Legenhausen
i have got points to share and ask. i contacted you in facebook monthes ago. please ansewr to my e-mail address if it is ok!
k. mosawi

04 September, 2009 18:14  

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