WELCOMING THE STRANGER
Developed by Quest Multifaith Club
Including Prayers and Texts from Five Religious Traditions
1 – Abdu’l-Baha, Selected Writings
O ye lovers of this wronged one! Cleanse ye your eyes, so that ye behold no man as different from yourselves. See ye no strangers; rather see all men as friends, for love and unity come hard when ye fix your gaze on otherness. And in this new and wondrous age, the Holy Writings say that we must be at one with every people; that we must see neither harshness nor injustice, neither malevolence, nor hostility, nor hate, but rather turn our eyes toward the heaven of ancient glory. For each of the creatures is a sign of God, and it was by the grace of the Lord and His power that each did step into the world; therefore they are not strangers, but in the family; not aliens, but friends, and to be treated as such.
2 – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talk
Put into practice the Teaching of Bahá’u’lláh, that of kindness to all nations. Do not be content with showing friendship in words alone, let your heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path.
3 – Baha’u’llah
Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind.
4 – Abdu’l-Baha
O ye beloved of the Lord! In this sacred Dispensation, conflict and contention are
in no wise permitted. Every aggressor deprives himself of God’s grace. is incumbent upon everyone to show the utmost love, rectitude of conduct, straight forwardness and sincere kindliness unto all the peoples and kindreds of the world, be they friends or strangers. So intense must be the spirit of love and loving kindness, that the stranger may find himself a friend, the enemy a true brother, no difference whatsoever existing between them. For universality is of God and all limitations earthly.
5 – Abdu’l-Baha, Selected Writings
One amongst His Teachings is this, that love and good faith must so dominate the human heart that men will regard the stranger as a familiar friend, the malefactor as one of their own, the alien even as a loved one, the enemy as a companion dear and close.
1 – Anonymous
A worm; an elephant, A king; an ant. A snake; a giraffe, An orangutan; a calf. A cat; a quail, A jellyfish; a whale. A bandit; a queen, A mosquito; the unseen. The downtrodden; the wise, None are strangers: I welcome all. All my kind mothers from previous lives.
2 – Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama
May I become at all times, both now and forever A protector for those without protection A guide for those who have lost their way A ship for those with oceans to cross A bridge for those with rivers to cross A sanctuary for those in danger A lamp for those without light A place of refuge for those who lack shelter And a servant to all in need.
3 – Anonymous
With every breath I take today, I vow to be awake; And every step I take, I vow to take with a grateful heart– So I may see with eyes of love into the hearts of all I meet, To ease their burden when I can And touch them with a smile of peace.
4 – Deepak Chopra
Let me be loved, let me be happy, let me be peaceful. Let my friends be happy, loved, and peaceful. Let my perceived enemies be happy, loved, and peaceful. Let all beings be happy, loved, and peaceful. Let the whole world experience these things.
1- Luke 10: 30-35
A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
2 – Mother Theresa, An Interview
One day, while I was in Kolkata’s poor neighborhoods and I was about to go back to my room, I saw a woman who was lying on the sidewalk. She was weak and thin, and it was apparent that she was very ill, and the stench coming from her body was so strong that I was about to throw up, although I was just walking by her. I saw some rats hopelessly biting her body, and I told myself: this is the worst thing I have ever seen in my whole life. What I wanted to do in that moment was to look away and forget what I had seen. So I started running, as though running could help that desire to escape that I was feeling. But before I reached the corner of the street, an inner light stopped me. And I stood there, on the sidewalk of the poor neighborhood of Kolkata – that I now know so well – and I saw that that was not the only woman who was lying and being eaten by rats. I also saw that it was Christ Himself who was suffering on that sidewalk. I turned around and walked back to that woman, I chased the rats away, I picked her up and took her to the nearest hospital. But they did not want to take her and they told us to go away. So we looked for another hospital, with the same results, and then another, until we found a room for her, and I myself nursed her. From that day my life was changed.
3- Matthew 25: 35-6
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
4 – Matthew 5:9 & Luke 6:27-31
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God…But I say to you to listen – Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
5 – Rev. Vienna Cobb Anderson Most merciful God, there are many in this city who hate themselves, who consider their lives worthless, who have not known the healing of love. Touch them with the wonder and power of your transforming love that their lives may be made whole, that they may find fulfillment in life, that they may rejoice in your blessing. Amen.
1 – Quran, Al Hujurat
أَكْرَمَكُمْ إِنَّ ۚ لِتَعَارَفُوا وَقَبَ ا ئِلَ شُعُوبًا وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ وَأُنثَىٰ ذَكَ رٍ مِّن خَلَقْنَاكُم إِنَّا النَّاسُ أَيُّهَا يَا
خَبِ ي رٌ عَلِ يمٌ اللَّهَ إِنَّ ۚ أَتْقَاكُمْ اللَّهِ عِن دَ
O mankind, We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes so that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.
2 – An-Nisa’ 4:36
ذِيوَ الْجَ ا رِ وَ الْمَ سَ اكِ ينِ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ الْقُرْبَىٰ وَبِذِيإِحْسَانًا وَبِ الْوَ الِ دَ يْنِ شَيْئًا بِهِ تُشْرِكُوا وَلَا اللَّهَوَاعْبُدُوا
كَانَمَنيُحِبُّ لَا اللَّهَإِنَّ أَيْمَانُكُمْمَلَكَتْوَمَا ال سَّبِ يلِ وَ ابْنِ بِ الْجَنبِ وَ الصَّ احِبِ الْجُنُبِ وَ الْجَ ا رِ الْقُرْبَىٰ
And worship God [alone], and do not ascribe divinity, in any way, to aught beside Him. And do good unto your parents, and near of kin, and unto orphans, and the needy, and the neighbor from among your own people, and the neighbor who is a stranger, and the friend by your side, and the wayfarer, and those whom you rightfully possess. Verily, God does not love any of those who, full of self-conceit, act in a boastful manner.
1 – Josh Fiegelstein, Sh’ma 2012
During Passover, we read the Aramaic verse in the Haggadah, “Kol dichfin yeitei v’yechul”, “Let all who are hungry come and eat”. It has come to be understood as referring to people who are spiritually hungry; however where is our bravery in welcoming those who are actually hungry? It is easier to ponder spiritual desire than to wrestle with the reality that our neighbors regularly go without food. Let us not hide behind fear of a stranger at our table causing tangible harm, but remind ourselves how our shyness with this societal stranger is actually rooted in fear of us being or becoming the hungry stranger ourselves. Let us remember that the guest will only be strange until they are greeted as one of us, together at our table.
SECULAR -Warsan Shire
No one leaves home unless
Home is the mouth of a shark.
You only run for the border
When you see the whole city
Running as well.
Your neighbors running faster
Than you, the boy you went to
Who kissed you dizzy behind
The old tin factory is
Holding a gun bigger than his
You only leave home
When home won’t let you stay.
No one would leave home unless
Chased you, fire under feet,
Hot blood in your belly.
It is not something you ever
Doing, and so when you did –
You carried the anthem under
Waiting until the airport toilet
To tear up the passport and
Each mouthful of paper making
it clear that
You would not be going back.
You have to understand,
No one puts their children in a
Unless the water is safer than the
Who would choose to spend
And nights in the stomach of a
Unless the miles travelled
Meant something more than
No one would choose to crawl
Be beaten until your shadow
Raped, then drowned, forced to
the bottom of
The boat because you are darker,
Starved, shot at the border like a
Be pitied, lose your name, lose
Make a refugee camp a home for
a year or two or ten,
Stripped and searched, find
And if you survive
And you are greeted on the other
Go home blacks, refugees
Dirty immigrants, asylum seekers
Sucking our country dry of milk,
Dark, with their hands out
Smell strange, savage –
Look what they’ve done to their
What will they do to ours?
The dirty looks in the street
Softer than a limb torn off,
The indignity of everyday life
More tender than fourteen men
Look like your father, between
Your legs, insults easier to
Than rubble, than your child’s
In pieces – for now, forget about
Your survival is more important.
I want to go home,
But home is the mouth of a shark
Home is the barrel of the gun
And no one would leave home
Unless home chased you to the
Unless home tells you to
Leave what you could not
Even if it was human.
No one leaves home until home
Is a damp voice in your ear saying
Leave, run now, I don’t know