In two different posts yesterday we discussed “Imamgate” — the prayer said by an imam invited to the Vatican for an interfaith event promoting peace in the Middle East. The imam strayed from the (non-Arabic) script that was sent to the Vatican in advance, and was alleged to have called for Allah to grant victory over the unbelievers when he made his prayer and added his own remarks.
I don’t understand Arabic any better than the Pope does, so I can’t vouch for which account of his words is true. However, I consider it important to get an independent opinion whenever possible, so for the sake of accuracy I asked our Russian correspondent Russkiy — who understands Arabic — to listen to the imam’s prayer at the Vatican and tell us what he heard.
His account does not support the version published by kath.net. Here’s what Russkiy has to say:
I would like to point out that I don’t think the Imam said anything controversial. He definitely did not say to grant victory to Muslims over non-believers. He mixed verses from the Quran with his own words.
He was singing out the verses from the Quran, and his own words were at the end when he was just talking. I couldn’t match it exactly to what Sura he was reading, but what he was reading didn’t match the last two verses from Sura Baqara, which does in fact say to grant Muslims victory over non-believers.
In his own words in the end he asked god to assist those in the state of weakness. He said intasar al mustaDaafin fil ArD ya rab al alamin wa salam ala mursalin (انتصر المستضعفين في الارض يا رب العالمين و سلام على مرسلين) [Note from the Baron: I could not get the Arabic script to come out consistently right in this post’s text, so I made an image of it, which I believe accurately reflects what Russkiy sent], which means assist people in the state of weakness in the land oh Lord of the worlds and peace be upon messengers.
I searched the phrase “intasar al mustaDaafin” or “assist people in the state of weakness” and found that Muslim Arabs use it often in their prayer for either Palestinians or Mujahidin who are fighting against “oppressors”. Possibly the Imam’s intention was precisely that, but he did not literally ask Allah to assist Muslims over non-believers.
If anyone else understands the Arabic in that video, and hears something at variance from the above, feel free to leave your translation in the comments.