Salaam, one and all! We welcome you with heart-felt prayers for God's peace and mercy and blessings.

This blog is maintained for the readers of In the Light of a Blessed Tree, as well as for all those interested in the wider work of Dr. Timothy J. Gianotti: including the Islamic Institute for Spiritual Formation (IISF, Toronto), which he serves as the Director and Principal Teacher, the Studies in Islam program at Renison University College (University of Waterloo), where he serves as an Associate Professor, and the American Islamic College (Chicago), where he served as the Director of Islamic Studies (2013-2015).

Please stay tuned for new blog entries and announcements for new programs in Toronto and beyond!

DISCUSSION: What is prayer to you?

I recently was asked to answer this question (in 250 words or less) in preparation for the 10th annual, Muslim-Christian "Building Bridges" seminar, sponsored by the Archbishop of Canterbury (Rowan Williams) in collaboration with Georgetown University.  Each participating scholar-practitioner was asked to answer this question for herself/himself, and the entire catalogue of responses can be found on the Building Bridges website (above).  My response can be found below.  Please feel encouraged to craft your own and post it here.

What is Prayer for Me?

Prayer for me is, of course, always changing shape and tone and texture, all of which arise from my own fluctuating condition and spiritual state.  Underlying all this, however, throbs a mystery of connectivity and reciprocal remembrance: my remembrance of God and God’s remembrance of me.  In one of the Divine, theopathic utterances attributed to the Prophet Muhammad (may God’s blessings and peace be ever upon him and all of the messengers), God is believed to say, “I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he remembers Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than that. If he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length; if he comes to Me walking, I rush to him.”  For me, then, prayer is the rope or cord that keeps me consciously connected to my source; remembering that, in Arabic, the word for God’s attribute of “mercy” derives from the word for “womb,” I see prayer is the spiritual umbilical cord that is never cut, always available, always ready to nourish and sustain us. 

Timothy J. Gianotti