People of many faiths (including Sikhs) gather to remember 9/11 attacks

By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY

Believers across the nation heard from faith leaders this weekend as millions of Americans wrestled with the spiritual challenges and lessons of 9/11.

On the 10th anniversary, the Catholic archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, called the attacks in 2001 battles in "a war between sin and grace," a war mirrored within every human soul.

In his homily to the packed St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan on Sunday morning, Dolan concluded that God won "as temptations to despair, fearful panic, revenge and dread gave way to such things as rescue, recovery, rebuilding, outreach and resilience."

At the official memorial service in Lower Manhattan, where no clergy were assigned to speak, President Obama recited Psalm 46, which concludes: "The Lord of Hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge."

A group of 50 conservative evangelical pastors and supporters organized by the Family Research Council knelt in prayer and song by the fence surrounding the Ground Zero site on Saturday to protest their clergy's exclusion from the official event in New York and from an interfaith service in Washington.

Washington National Cathedral, home to the capital's interfaith service in 2001, held its vigil Sunday in a borrowed sanctuary at the Washington Hebrew Congregation. The massive Gothic cathedral was damaged recently by an earthquake, Hurricane Irene and a week of heavy rains.

The voices were Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh -- from the call to prayer in each religion to the concluding call by Rajwant Singh of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education: "Oh God, embrace anyone who reaches to you from any door."

The Rev. Samuel Lloyd III, dean of the cathedral, called the interwoven prayers and chants in the sanctuary a symphony to "the hidden oneness within the human race." He said, "God yearns to see us like this."

Jews and Muslims worshiping on Friday also addressed the national tragedy.

Temple Emanu-el Rabbi Jonathan Miller's sermon was written to connect the 9/11 anniversary to Jewish traditions of mourning and to tell the Birmingham, Ala., congregation why acts of evil might be forgiven but never forgotten (

"If we want to destroy the evil, we have to live into our better selves and make sure these terrorists, like the terrorists before them, have no place in the things that are holy to us," Miller said.

At Friday afternoon prayers, Imam Mohamed Magid, leader of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, recalled in his sermon the deep pain he felt as an American and a Muslim.

"As Muslims, we stand against hate and bigotry and the actions they can lead to. The action of terrorists is not Islam. … We need to fight hate and extremism with love, compassion and kindness," he said.

He put that to work on Sunday. He spoke at the cathedral service, then joined in his mosque's service project to feed the homeless and participated in a unity walk through the city streets.

Contributing: Kara Rose in Washington

Bishop John Bryson Chane of Washington National Cathedral, the Episcopal Diocese of the Washington, read the passage on compassion and also shared benediction with Sikh leader Dr. Rajwant Singh

Dr. Rajwant Singh reciting Sikh hymn ' Jagat Jalanda Rakh Lai' * and he gave benediction at the conclusion of the interfaith vigil at the Washington Hebrew Congregation.

Bells were wrung when the hijacked planes hit the towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the plane crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.

Dean Llyod of Washington National Cathedral

Imam Mohammad Magid gave reflections on Mercy and recited from Hadith.

Dr. DC Rao of Hindu faith gave reflections on Justice and recited from Bhagavat Mahapurana

Her Eminence Khandro Rinpoche of Buddhist tradition gave reflection on love and also read from Pali Scriptures.

* Jagat Jalanda Rakh Lai, Apni Kirpa Dhar

The world is on fire (due to avariousness, ego, self-righteousness and possessiveness).

O God, please save it with Your benevolence.

Through whichever door* one comes to you! Embrace them.

The true Guru has revealed that those who meditate,

And reflect on the Name of God are imbued with bliss.

Without the Supreme Lord, says Nanak,

There is no one to bless us with forgiveness.

*Door means through any religious or spiritual path

This prayer is written by Guru Amar Dass, the third Guru of the Sikhs.(5 May 1479 – 1 September 1574). He established free food distribution for the poor and worked for the rights of the women in society. He encouraged remarriage of the widows, who were considered outcast in the Indian society at that time. He also raised the status of women by prohibiting the practice of Sati (a wife's suicide on her husband's funeral pyre) and " Parrda" (veil covering the face). Guru in Sikhism means a divine teacher and a messenger of God. This hymn reflects the universality of the Sikh teachings and the notion of respecting all faiths. Use of word Nanak as a poet means that this is continuation of the revelation from Guru Nanak, the first Guru and the founder of the Sikh faith.


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