The Beatitudes

My Australian friend Dave Andrews has helped me greatly through many of his books, but his Plan Be series (on the Beatitudes) is especially helpful, and it’s a great introduction to his work. (I wish a smart US publisher would pick these up!) I was so impressed by this beautiful reflection on the book (given at a book release event in Australia) that I wanted to share it here on my site – all the more moving because it’s written by a Muslim activist for peace and justice. If you’ve never had a Muslim woman lead you in reflecting on the Bible, here’s your opportunity –

An Introduction To The Plan Be Series
(Hey Be And See, Plan Be and See What I Mean)
by Nora Amath, Director of AMARAH,
(Australian Muslim Advocates of the Rights of All Humanity
Peace and blessings be upon you all.
I am honoured to part of the launch of the Beatitudes books by my good friend Dave Andrews.
When Dave asked me to say a few words about the series, I thought ‘Yep,’ I have heard Dave talk about the Beatitudes on a few occasions. ‘Easy’.
But when I read the books I couldn’t put them down. I read them in 2 days straight. And it wasn’t an easy two days.
Don’t get me wrong – the books were very well written, but they challenged me tremendously.
A few weeks ago I was part of a dialogue at a local church and someone asked if I was a Jesus–following Muslim. And I replied with an emphatic ‘Yes! Of course I am. Every Muslim has to be. It is part of our belief. Yes, I and other Muslims believe that Jesus was here on Earth to convey and invite people to accept God’s message. Thus we are followers of Jesus’.
But until I read Dave’s books I really didn’t know what that meant.
Three books later, I do know what that line means- and I realise that I had a long way to go.
I think some of you may find all this quite ironic- a visible, devout Muslim (wearing a hijab) up here discussing a book written by a devout Christian about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. But that, my friends, is the beauty of this series. I believe the Beatitudes is an ethical framework able to transcend all religious boundaries because its core, its essence, is part of every religious tradition. This radical, transformative framework is universal and can be applied within whichever religious tradition one comes from.
So after I finished reading the series and after deep reflections and prayers, I thought long and hard about what it means to truly practise the Beatitudes, not only as a Muslim, but as a servant of God.
Let us reflect on the Beatitudes for a moment:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Gospel of St. Matthew 5:3-10
When I first read this, my gut reaction was that the guidelines are wonderful, but perhaps a bit too idealistic and very difficult for most people to achieve. But the true contribution of Dave’s books is the practical way he dissects each beatitude and shows how this can be applied realistically in our lives.
Moreover, he inspires us with stories of people who have truly lived the beatitudes, including his own very personal stories. I found the last book, See What I Mean to be especially meaningful. I felt that the first two books with the introduction of the Beatitudes (in Hey Be And See), then the practical implementation of the ethical framework (in Plan Be), really prepared me to hear Dave and Ange’s stories of how they practise the Beatitudes (in See What I Mean).
I thought I was in awe of them before, but reading their stories blew me away even more. It wasn’t just their commitment to living God’s word by serving the poor and marginalised which moved me, it was their humanness, especially their fear, which they had to overcome to practise the beatitudes, which anchored the beatitudes for me. Because I think it is fear that keeps us from truly doing anything … Ange and Dave recognised their fear and honestly spoke about their fear, but in the end, they faced
their fear, because not living the Spirit of the Beatitudes was worse for them than their fear.
After reading all three books and doing my own reflections and prayers, I have been inspired to do more in my worship of God.
Using Dave’s Be-Attitude framework:
I want to identify more with the poor ‘in spirit’
I want to grieve more over injustice in the world.
I can get angry, but vow never to get aggressive.
I seek to do and serve justice, even to my enemies.
I want to extend compassion to all those in need.
I want to act with integrity, not just for the publicity.
I would to work for peace in the midst of the violence.
And finally following Dave’s advice once again:
I would rather feel suffering myself, rather than inflict suffering.
I believe, actually no, I know that once you finish reading this series of the Beatitudes you will realise your own capacity to make this world a better place. You will harness your faith in your Creator to serve Him/Her by being part of this Be-Attitude revolution to build a better a better humanity.

Thanks, Dave, and thanks, Nora … and thanks be to God for the eight-fold treasure of the beatitudes.