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Language: English / Gàidhlig


Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 22 September 2020

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Covid-19, Minority Ethnic People and Communities, Decision Time, Residential Outdoor Centres


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon. Before we begin, I remind members that social distancing measures are in place throughout the Holyrood campus. I ask members to take care when entering and leaving the chamber, in particular.

Our first item of business today is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is Dr Sohaib Saeed, who is honorary Muslim chaplain of the University of Edinburgh.

Dr Sohaib Saeed (Honorary Muslim Chaplain, University of Edinburgh)

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim—in the name of God, most compassionate, most merciful.

Some weeks ago, when it first became possible again to ascend the pulpit of my local mosque and lead Friday prayers, it was a surreal experience to go through all these motions and precautions: bringing our own prayer mats, wearing masks, sanitising hands and leaving our contact details at the door. Perhaps the strangest thing was replacing the usual instruction “Straighten the rows and fill the gaps” with “Straighten the rows but leave the gaps!” We had to replace the physical solidarity of standing shoulder to shoulder with glances of acknowledgement that we were doing the right thing for the right reasons.

This is what I reminded my fellow believers about—the values of vigilance and intention. Both ideas are about being conscious and aware, so that we “stay alert”—to use an official slogan—to our outer and inner states. “Spiritual vigilance” is one way of translating the core Islamic value “taqwa”, which is both a goal of worship and what gives it meaning. It means that we guard ourselves against anything that would harm us or hold us back on the spiritual path. One of the early Muslims likened it to a person gathering in his or her robes when attempting to walk through a thorny garden. I could not help thinking of that image as I made my way carefully to the front of the mosque.

That leads me to “intention”, which is called “niyyah” in the Islamic sources. The Prophet Muhammad—peace be upon him—said:

“Actions are judged according to intentions”

That teaching has so many important implications. Among them is the fact that two people could be doing the same action, but one is more deserving of divine reward because of what each of them intended.

We each have a choice when faced with a situation that is beyond our control. Do we look out for just our own interests and convenience, or are we vigilant about the needs of others, so that we can do our best for their sake? Do we just shrug and follow the latest rules and regulations, or can we feel positive about temporarily giving up some dear things for the greater good?

By keeping in mind why we do what we do, we can see the present challenge through.