Published: 2023-02-03 18:15
Last Updated: 2023-03-27 14:20
Thursday, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah called for incorporating the values and postures of prayer into “the rest of our lives and the rest of the world,” affirming that religion is not “a shelter for hiding,” but “a launch pad for living.”
Her Majesty made her remarks in Washington D.C., while delivering the keynote speech at the 2023 National Prayer Breakfast (NPB) Gathering’s International Luncheon. Earlier in the day, His Majesty King Abdullah II delivered the keynote speech of the gathering’s flagship breakfast event, which was attended by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah, guests from more than 140 nations, and leading US figures from across the political and religious spectrums.
“Like hundreds of millions of Muslims, my day began before sunrise, with the first of our five daily prayers,” Her Majesty said, adding that the dawn, suspended between dark and light, is “a time that underscores the sacred that we find in the shades of grey and the beauty inherent in nuance and texture.”
“This moment stands in dismaying contrast with so much of what we’re seeing all around us,” the Queen said. “In this polarized environment, people feel increasingly obliged to commit to one side: left or right, in or out, for or against, idolize or cancel. And, rather than spurring productive engagement, it’s forcing false political choices.”
Queen Rania explained that, in response to the different challenges of modern life, many have found refuge in clinging to religious identity. However, she countered that “religion isn’t just about who we are, but what we do and how we do it,” adding that faith is meant to help guide our way in the world and center our lives.
“In one day of prayer, Muslims ask God to guide us to the path at least 17 times – which, of course, is to admit 17 times every day that we need help to find it,” she said. She suggested that prayer itself can lead us toward a better path that “rises above the binary,” which she described as “the third way.”
Her Majesty stated that in order to walk this path it is essential to recognize that each person represents a blend of sometimes conflicting attributes, and resist applying sweeping generalizations. “Our win doesn’t need to be someone else’s loss. And being right doesn’t mean that the other side is wrong — only that we need other points of view to see a multi-dimensional picture,” she said.
“The third way is the only path we can walk together, with our full selves, and without prejudice, polarization, or preconceived battle lines,” Queen Rania emphasized. “We won’t see it on a map, but prayer invites us to embody postures that we’ll need in order to find it.”
Naming “humility” as the first posture of prayer, Her Majesty explained that, when Muslims pray, they bow. “When we lay ourselves down, we restore our sense of scale. We accept that our power and perspective are small,” she said, adding that this allows us to see ourselves and others more clearly.
Her Majesty termed “unity” the second necessary posture, citing the example of the Muslim pilgrimage of Hajj, the world’s largest annual human gathering, which brings together worshippers from all walks of life as equals before God.
“Each time I make this journey around the Kaaba – the same journey as countless pilgrims before me and countless to come after me – I find myself weeping as I walk, overwhelmed to be part of a story so much bigger than myself,” Queen Rania said. “Unity is what helps us zoom out and see that we’re all circling the same desires: safety, belonging, [and] a future for our children.”
Queen Rania identified the final posture as “hope,” which she described as inherent in the act of prayer itself. Her Majesty noted that, in order to hope and pray for a better world, we must have faith “that each new dawn is our chance to make it so.”
Highlighting the role that each posture – humility, unity, and hope – plays in guiding us to the third way, the Queen affirmed that, while we will stumble from the path, we always have the chance to return, whether “on a prayer mat, at the communion table, in a synagogue, a temple, in the privacy of our home,” or even “walking in nature, or in a simple moment of quiet contemplation.”
The NPB Gathering is an annual event attended by religious and political figures from the United States and around the world. Following the event’s flagship breakfast event in the morning, the International Luncheon honors members of the U.S. Diplomatic Corps, and is attended by ambassadors to the United States, United Nations representatives, and international guests.
Queen Rania accompanied King Abdullah and Crown Prince Al Hussein this week on a working visit to the United States. She was joined at the International Luncheon by Her Royal Highness Princess Iman bint Abdullah II.