American Stories

Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima Writes “Al-Fatiha” When Asked to Inscribe the Lord’s Prayer in Arabic

About This Resource

Asked to prove his Christianity, a Muslim ex-slave responded resourcefully. Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima, the subject of Terry Alford’s book Prince Among Slaves (a Muslim Journeys Bookshelf title), was asked to demonstrate that he was a Christian by writing the Lord’s Prayer in Arabic. What he actually wrote was the opening chapter of the Qur’an, which is recited by Muslims in  each of the five daily prayers. The chapter is called “Al-Fatiha,” which means “The Opening.” Recently freed, Abd al-Rahman was responding to the request of Condy Raquet, a former U.S.  chargé d’affaires. (The U.S. State Department had been instrumental in helping Abd al-Rahman secure his freedom.) This resource should be compared to another related a similar incident, “Omar ibn Said Writes Qur’an Verses as ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’”

Text

English text:

The foregoing copy of the Lord’s Prayer was written by Prince Abduhl Rahhuman in Arabic, at my request and in my presence on the 29th day of December 1828 in Philadelphia, at which time and place he related to me in detail the circumstances of his abduction from his native country and of his experiences for forty years in slavery near Natchez, state of Mississippi. [signed] Condy Raquet

Arabic text:

Bismi Allahi alrahman alraheem
Alhamdu lillahi rabbi al-Aalameen
Alrahman alraheemi
Maliki yawmi alddeeni
Iyyaka naAbudu wa iyyaka nastaAeen
Ihdina al-sirat almustaqeem
Sirat al-atheena anAamta Aalayhim, ghayri almaghdoobi Aalayhim wa la ddalleen. Ameen.

Surah makkiya, Aala Muhammad Nabiyya wa ahleehi wa sahbeehi wa sallim tasleeman. Qala al-shaykh al-faqih ila Makkah.

A Makkan chapter, peace and blessings on Prophet Muhammad and on his family and his companions. So spoke the shaykh

Translation (according to Muhammad Asad):

In the name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace:
All praise is due to God alone, the Sustainer of all the worlds,
The Most Gracious, the Dispenser of Grace,
Lord of the Day of Judgment!
Thee alone do we worship; and unto Thee alone do we turn for aid.
Guide us the straight way.
The way of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings, not of those who have been condemned [by Thee], nor of those who go astray! Amen.

[Ibrahim's invocation follows] A Makkan chapter, peace and blessings on Prophet Muhammad and on his family and his companions. So spoke the master of the law at Makkah.

Source

Austin, Allan D. African Muslims in Antebellum America: Transatlantic Stories and Spiritual Struggles. New York: Routledge, 1997 (p. 190). Courtesy of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, Pa. Asad, Muhammad. The Message of the Qurʼan. Mecca: Zürich: Muslim World League; European representative, Islamic Foundation, 1964.

How to Cite This Page

"Muslim Journeys | Item #93: Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima Writes “Al-Fatiha” When Asked to Inscribe the Lord’s Prayer in Arabic", December 07, 2016 http://bridgingcultures.neh.gov/muslimjourneys/items/show/93.

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