SHAFAQNA- St Paul’s Anglican Church in Beaconsfield, Perth, Western Australia, has been opening its doors to local Muslims as a place to conduct their Friday prayers for almost six years.
This year the church hosted Ramadan on every Friday of the holy month, in what is thought to be the first time in Australia Muslims and Christians spent the sacred time side by side.
The two communities’ religious leaders said despite history often painting the two faiths as warring tribes, they were finding commonalities, and also learning to understand their differences.
“I think the best way to make headway when there’s lots of misunderstanding is just to break bread, share a meal,” Imam Faizel Chothia said.
“Because the easiest way to a man’s heart — or women’s heart for that matter — is through their tummies.”
“Somewhere within everybody there is something that we share in common, we’re all part of one story,” Reverend Peter Humphries said.
“All the ancient writings — the revelation of Christ, the whole lot — points towards a oneness of humanity.
“It’s a completely different story toward the us and them that has permeated the world up ’till now.”
Members of both communities have embraced the move.
“I’m a very big fan of the work that Father Peter does and I love the fact that him and Faizel have such a beautiful friendship,” said Aisha Novakovich, a lawyer and a Muslim.
“I think they demonstrate to the rest of us, and the rest of the world actually, what two people can achieve when they have leadership and vision.”
Imam Faizel has plans to build a mosque next door to the church, a space he sees more as a place for like-minded individuals to gather and learn, rather than simply a place where Muslims pray.
“A space dedicated to celebrating the richness and the life-giving diversity that is our community … using both Christianity and Islam as a platform,” he said.