More than a billion Western Christians celebrated Easter yesterday — and, in most churches, it was one of the biggest blow-outs of the year, rivaled only by Christmas. Choirs sang. Musicians played. Banners waved. And, in many places, worship was standing room only!
So, now what? Those billion-plus Christians are happy, weary and heading into a spring season that will slide into a bit of a lull from the intensity of Lent, Holy Week and Easter.
That’s why I especially like today’s story, which was — in effect — sent to me by several Muslim readers.
This involves one of those colorful Emails we all get, labeled: “Forward-This-Email-to-All-Your-Friends.”
This one was headlined: “We Have No Excuse.”
The Email turned out to contain an eloquent, visual reminder to pray in all times, all places and all conditions around the world — courtesy of our Muslim friends. It’s precisely the kind of message Christians need to remember right now with all the hoopla of the recent holidays behind us.
In short, the Email message urges: Now is not the time to give up our spiritual disciplines in favor of all those wonderfully distracting springtime pursuits. Rather, let’s integrate our prayers into the flow of our lives, wherever we happen to find ourselves.
(PLEASE NOTE: If you enjoy a little spiritual wake-up call in your Email box, ReadTheSpirit now delivers a Monday-morning “Spiritual Planner.” It’s a simple, free Email that’s written in our usual style and shares with readers “at a glance” the most important spiritual stirrings of the coming week. Click Here to read a sample text of today’s Planner and let us know if you’d like to subscribe.)
So, where did this unusual Muslim email originate?
Who knows? And, I did look for the source! (If someone does know the answer, in this case, please Click on the “Comment” link at the end of the online version of this story — or Email ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm and tell us more!)
I was able to trace the Email through several Muslim men and women who had forwarded it around the world — and the conversations I had with these men and women, via email, were always inspiring. People hitting “forward” on the email all said they’d gotten a boost from the photos of other Muslims praying — and simply wanted others to feel a little spiritual wind at their backs this week.
One “forwarder” I ran across, tracing the Email backward, was Dr. Salman Z. Shaikh, an electrical engineer in a major technology company’s New Jersey research facility. When I asked him to share a little about his life, Dr. Shaikh wrote back: “I am originally from India and came to my adopted country of USA originally to pursue masters and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering at Columbia University.”
Today, he said, his biggest hope is that he will be a faithful representative of Islam’s peaceful message. So, he was happy to click “forward” and send along these snapshots from around the world.
Later, Dr. Shaikh even sent a follow-up Email to report that he had spotted another photo online that he wanted to add to the series — showing Muslim prayers in the most unusual venue of all. His additional photo is the last one in the series below.
Take a look at the photos below, think of your own spiritual journey, your own desire for prayer — and think of these folks making time for prayer sometimes in very uncomfortable circumstances: