Badaliya is an Arabic word that means to take the place of or substitute for another. It is a spiritual term that lies at the heart of the Christian faith experience and refers to the mystery of the image of God as Jesus sacrificing his life for all of humanity. To be a follower of Christ is to offer oneself out of love for the well-being of others.
Louis Massignon and Mary Kahil established the Badaliya prayer group in Cairo in 1934. At that time Christians in Egypt were increasingly marginalized as Islam became the dominant religion in the region. The Badaliya was a way to open themselves to befriending and praying with and for their Muslim neighbors. It embraced Massignon’s own understanding that by learning the language, and experiencing the traditions and culture of those of other religions our own faith life is enhanced. The Badaliya prayer was a testimony to the universal love of Christ. A Badaliya prayer group formed in Paris joining the one in Cairo, and eventually Badaliya prayer groups arose in many other cities around the world. They met monthly and many individual lay persons and members of religious communities joined this prayer movement in spirit as well. For more information, see the article “A Model of Hope: Louis Massignon’s Badaliya”.
In 2003 the Badaliya prayer movement was re-created in the United States. Letters are sent via email to members gathering in Boston and Washington, DC as well as a growing list of people praying in solidarity around the U.S. and in other countries. The following monthly letters include inspirational material for the prayer and invitations to the gatherings.