Just when I think my day cannot get any cooler, the universe proves me wrong. We just had our third worship experience of the con -- first zikr, then salat, and it moved me deeply. What a tremendously prayerful experience.
Zikr means remembrance (clearly this Arabic word is the cousin of the Hebrew root zkhr), as in remembrance of God. We sat in a circle barefoot while Islamoyankee explained briefly what zikr is and what we would be saying. (The texts and music are listed here at Islamicate.) He chanted the fatiha first, and then we chanted several short texts together, each several times. I closed my eyes and settled in to the repeated sounds and their meaning. "There is no God but God; thanks and praise are due to God; O Compassionate, O Merciful..."
After silent prayer, and listening to some beautiful snippets of sacred music, he asked whether we wanted also to move through a standard cycle of namaz/ salat, and everyone nodded vigorously. So we stood shoulder to shoulder in rows behind him, and he talked us through the prayers in the cycle.
And then he prayed, and we followed him, cupping our hands to our ears to show audition. Some of us managed some of the words. We knelt, and prostrated, and knelt, and prayed, and stood. (And I could not help thinking of the Great Aleinu, the prayer said on the Days of Awe; when we say it on every other day we merely dip our knees and bow to God, but on the Days of Awe it is increasingly customary to actually prostrate ourselves in the aisles of our synagogues...)
And then everyone greeted each other with handshakes and hugs and salaam aleikum / aleikum salaam, and I grinned wildly at everyone. And because it hit me suddenly how amazing this is -- how remarkable that at this moment, with all that's going wrong in the world, Jews and Christians and Muslims and Buddhists and Pagans can come together and pray and offer praise together -- I said a shehecheyanu with Reb Arthur, as fervently as I have ever spoken the words before.
I am so grateful to be here tonight offering these prayers in this way. A deep thank you to Islamoyankee, and a heartfelt thankyou to all of y'all.