A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Eid al-Mubahalah (عِيْد ٱلْمُبَاهَلَة). Annual Shi’ite Muslim commemoration on 24 Dhu al-Hijjah 1442 AH in the Islamic Hijri lunar calendar, a date that varies from year to year in the solar Gregorian calendar because of differences between the two calendars. In 10 AH (631CE) there was a meeting in Medina between the Islamic Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and a Christian delegation from Najran (present-day Saudi Arabia). The original intention was to invite the Najrani Christians to acknowledge Muhammad (pbuh) as a Prophet but the topic of the divinity of ‘Isa (Jesus) arose and the Christians refused to accept the Prophet’s teachings about Christ and refused to deny their beliefs. Praying for God to curse the liar regarding religious disputes was an ancient Arabic tradition and mubahala (curse of God) was common among Semitic tribes, being found in writings that existed prior to Islam. The Prophet suggested invoking a mubahala and the Christians said: “If he challenges us with his people, we accept the challenge for he is not a prophet; but if he challenges us with his family in particular we do not challenge him, for he is not going to put forward his family unless he is truthful.” On the morning of 24 Dhu al-Hijjah, the Prophet appeared with only selected members of His family, His daughter Fatimah, her husband Ali and their sons Husayn and Hasan, and so the Christians decided not to call for a curse on Him and his family. They instead asked for peace by offering the Prophet tribute in return for protection. The event is regarded by Shi’a Muslims as an inceptual argument for the Ahl al-Kisaʾ (People of the Cloak) who were present being the Ahl al-Bayt (People of the Household) mentioned in the Qur’an. The Qur’an’s mubahala verse is one of the most controversial, due to the debate with Christianity and even more the Shi’a and Sunni division within Islam. From this event, Muslims were to continue challenging and criticising major points of the Christians’ faith with Christians defending and defining their doctrines and practices. However, parts of the Qur’an are interpreted as forging a continuous dialogue between Muslims and Christians but at the same time assuming that the dialogue between Jews, Christians and Muslims will sometimes take the form of arguments about religion, one passage saying: “Do not dispute with the People of the Book save in the fairest way; Except for those who are evil doers,” another: “We believe in what has been sent down to us and what has been sent to you. Our God and your God are one and to Him we are submissive.” Image: facebook.com.
Krujë Mountain Festival. Start of annual August festival, a spiritual celebration on Mt Krujë 20 km north of Tirana, Albania the site of pagan rituals by the Illyrian tribe of the Albani before the spread of Christianity, when a church dedicated to St Alexander the martyr was built there, Bishop David of Krujë having been one of the bishops who attended the 869-70 Fourth Council of Constantinople. In the early Tenth Century, Krujë had an Eastern Orthodox suffragan bishop subject to the Metropolitan bishop of Durrës. The Roman Catholic bishopric of Krujë was established in 1167 but in 1284 the Byzantine Empire expelled the Catholic Bishop, an event that reoccurred in 1317. Bektashism is regarded as the fourth religion in Albania and is the form of Islam in which the festival is celebrated at the isolated early-Fourteenth-Century first Bektashi teqe (temple) of Sari Salltiku built by the Bektashi babas (missionaries) who settled in the area before the 1385 Ottoman arrival. The teqe was named after the Romanian Turkish Bektashi Sufi mystic Baba Sari Saltık (صالتق, d1298) and dedicated to the dervishes of holy sacrament who fought to end the ritual sacrifice of girls. During the period of atheism, the teqe fell into ruins by 1967 but reopened in 1991 with the demise of Communism. The temple is one of hundreds in the region but is most important and is the second-largest pilgrimage site in Albania, visited by pilgrims, residents and tourists of all religious beliefs with the peak for visits being between 14 August and 14 September. Image: en-gb.facebook.com.
St Nicodemus (Defender of Christ, Νικόδημος). Western Christianity Feast Day for the man who assisted St Joseph of Arimathea with the preparation of Jesus’ body for burial after His Crucifixion. Nicodemus was a wealthy Judean Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin, like Joseph an important First-Century Jew. He went in secret to Jesus at night to better understand His teachings about the kingdom and spoke up for Jesus at the time of His arrest. Joseph obtained Jesus’ body from Pilate and wrapped it in fine linen and Nicodemus brought about 100 Roman pounds (33 kg) of an embalming mixture of myrrh and aloes, despite embalming being generally against Jewish custom with the exceptions of Jacob and Joseph. This quantity of the balm was extraordinary and exceeded all normal proportions but this was a royal burial. The two men’s courageous actions endangered their lives but showed the charismatic power of Jesus and His teachings, despite the risks of following Him, a condemned criminal who had been publicly executed. Joseph may have been imprisoned and Nicodemus was stripped of his office, beaten by the Jews and driven from Jerusalem for his kinsman rabbi Gamaliel to shelter him in his country house until Nicodemus’ death in his native Judea and honourable burial in Jerusalem near the body of St Stephen the protomartyr (first martyr of Christianity). Venerated in Catholic, Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran Churches. Feast Days 2 August and Third Sunday of Holy Pascha in Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine-rite Catholic Churches, and 31 August in Roman-rite Catholic Church. Patron of curiosity. Image: mainstreetumc.org.
Prayer Merciful God, whose servant Nicodemus was a secret disciple of Christ, meeting Him by night to avoid the wrath of the other members of the Sanhedrin, and eventually spoke out to that body to remind them that Jesus had a right to a hearing and with reverence and godly fear prepared the body of our Lord and Saviour for burial, and laid it in his own tomb: Grant to us, your faithful people, grace and courage to love and serve Jesus with sincere devotion all the days of our lives. Amen