This article is a brief contrast between two modes of prayer: that which originates in Islam and that which originates from the mouth of Jesus.
There has been (and continues to be) a significant battle between Islam and Christianity in religious ideology. I will begin a study of this battle in the sacred books that produce each. I am quite familiar with the New Testament Scriptures, thus, it is my plan to study the Qur’an in relation to the New Testament. I have been fortunate to purchase and access three varied translations of the Qur’an with comments by various Islamic scholars. They are Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Maulana Muhammad Ali, and Muhammad Asad. On occasion, in addition to these, I will reference other Islamic sources.
Surah 1 is the very foundation, or essence of Islam. In fact, it is identified that very way by Yusuf; the “Essence of the Book”, teaching the “perfect prayer” (footnote 18). The focus of the prayer is on “Allah” (the Islamic name for God) and his attributes of mercy and benevolence; this essence or foundation is the “guide to one’s life.” There are seven verses in the Surah 1 prayer, and these seven verses are recited continually, “being essential to every prayer” (Mauluna), no matter how many prayers are offered or in what context. Maulana said: “Its oft-repeated seven verses constitute the prayer for guidance of every Muslim at least thirty-two times a day and, therefore it has much greater importance for him than the Lord’s prayer for a Christian” (Maulana, introductory remarks, p. 1).
Obviously, it is a good thing that religious people put emphasis on the necessity of prayer, but is a memorized, even rote prayer a good thing? According to one Islamic scholar, to appeal to God for one’s personal needs would be to miss the point of prayer (at least in this Surah). In the “Introduction” to the first Surah, he leaves one with the impression that it is not worthy of Him to listen to our vanities; rather, we should pray to Allah and exalt him, not appeal for our needs (Yusuf, p. 13).
In contrast to this, notice what the Lord Jesus said to His disciples when He taught them to pray. First, note the personal relationship that the Father desires to have with His child: “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:6, NKJV). Second, though the Father knows all, it is not vain repetitions that He wants, but a heart-felt expression of one’s needs/desires “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.” Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:7-8). Third, note the form of the prayer: it is one that addresses the Father of all life; His name is to be hallowed. Moreover, the Lord’s kingdom is to be the kingdom of the individual man (cf. Colossians 3:16; Luke 17:21), as well as the collective body of the saints. The influence of righteousness is great in this regard. In complete contrast to the Muslim perspective, the Father wants His children to depend on them for daily needs and showering mercy. With these thoughts in mind, read what Jesus taught:
In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13, NKJV).