WASHINGTON — An Islamic imam delivered a prayer on Wednesday before the U.S. House of Representatives, claiming that God is simply known by “different names” and experienced through “multiple paths.”
Abdullah Antepli, the chief representative of Muslim affairs at Duke University, had been invited to deliver the invocation by Democratic Congressman David Price of North Carolina.
“The holy one, as your creation, we call you by different names, experience you through multiple paths,” Antepli began. “Our human diversity is from you. As the creator of all, you made us different. Enable us to understand, appreciate and celebrate our differences.”
“Teach and guide us to turn these differences into opportunities, richness and strength. Prevent us from turning them into sources of division, polarization, hate and bigotry,” he continued.
Antepli also asserted in his prayer that America has made progress by being pluralistic and of many religions.
“We are far from being perfect, but came a long way in creating a multi-cultural, multi-religious and pluralistic society by making in America ‘You will be judged by what you do, not by who you are’ as one of our foundational promise,” he said.
“The most compassionate one, help us to preserve our achievements in this regard,” Antepli continued. “Do not let the destructive forces of division and exclusion erode our ideals, our firm commitment to diversity and pluralism. Empower us and these legislators to further improve the culture of inclusion and welcome to all in our nation and beyond.”
He closed his prayer in “your most holy and beautiful names”—plural.
Wednesday was Antepli’s second visit to the U.S. House of Representatives, as he also delivered the invocation before lawmakers in 2010. He was later asked to participate in consultations with the U.S. Department of State under then-Secretarys of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, according to Religion News Service.
“He’s a remarkable interfaith interlocutor,” Rep. Price told the outlet. “He strives for full acceptance and appreciation of other traditions, not simply wanting mere tolerance, but to really engage and talk about the substance of one’s faith.”
Prior to his appearance, Antepli also participated in a discussion on “Faith in Public Life” at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center moderated by Muslim podcaster and author Rabia Chaudry.
As previously reported, the House also bowed their heads for an Islamic prayer in 2014 in being led by Imam Hamad Ahmad Chebli of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey.
“In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful,” he began. “Praise be to Allah, the cherisher, the sustainer of the world, the most gracious, the most merciful master of the Day of Judgment. Thee do we worship and thine do we seek.”
“Guide us to the safe path,” Chebli continued. “The god of the prophets and the messenger says in the Koran [that] he does not place a responsibility on you greater than you can bear. Everyone will receive the good they have earned and vice versa.”
Jesus declared in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” Isaiah 45:5 also reads, “I am the Lord, and there is none else. There is no God beside Me.”