The Prayer of the Oppressed event began with an Arabic prayer recited by Dr. Ali Yurtsever then an English translation was read collectively by prayer participants. The prayer called for an end to systemic violence and oppression and God’s mercy to envelop all of creation.
After the prayer, three panelists, Chaplain Khalid Bilal, Anna Lloyd, and Zaynab Shahrar, spoke on various manifestations of systemic racism, including the prison industrial complex, white privilege, police brutality, the intersection of Islamophobia and anti-blackness with a sincere and lively Q and A session that followed. It was an honest discussion with thought-provoking points.
Calls to action for awareness of these societal ills were made by all participants, in addition to an invitation by Anna Lloyd to attend an interfaith dialogue on racism sponsored by the Interfaith Coalition Against Racism on June 12 in Hyde Park, Chicago.
Thank you to all the panelists for their critical insight and thank you to our co-sponsors: the Muslim Student Association of the University of Chicago, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, and Sirat Chicago.
Date: Sunday, May 15, 2016
Where: Reception Hall, Dormitory Bldg, American Islamic College
“The prayer of the Oppressed is a poetic devotional prayer that seeks to end the violence and oppression that is so rampant in our world today. The power of the prayer lies in its simplicity, its purity, and its sincere supplication. It is essentially a plea to God that our transgressions be overlooked, that divine mercy be bestowed upon us, that social justice be restored in spite of us, that wrongs be righted, and that righteousness reign once again in our lands, so that the destitute may no longer be in need, the young may be educated, the animals’ purpose fulfilled, rain restored, and bounties poured forth. It is a plea to be freed from the aggression of foreigners in lands over which they have no right – a plea much needed in our modern world, rampant as it is with invasions and territorial occupations. Ultimately, it asks not that our enemies be destroyed, but simply that their plots, and the harm they cause, be halted. Its essence is mercy, which in turn is the essence of the Messenger of God, Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him: ‘And We have only sent you as a mercy to all the worlds.’” (Sandala.org)