SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – This Friday, the Washington National Cathedral will be filled with the sounds of Muslim prayers.
Muslims and people of other religious traditions have participated in Christian or Interfaith services at the Cathedral in the past. However, the November 14 event marks the first time American Muslims have been invited to lead their own traditional Jummah prayer inside the same sacred space that has hosted presidential funerals and other national religious services.
South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool helped to organize the event and will deliver the khutbah, or sermon, the Washington Post reports.
“This is a dramatic moment in the world and in Muslim-Christian relations,” Rasool said in a statement. “This needs to be a world in which all are free to believe and practice and in which we avoid bigotry, Islamaphobia, racism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Christianity and to embrace our humanity and to embrace faith.”
The idea for the service emerged from a conversation between Rasool and the Cathedral’s director of liturgy, Rev. Canon Gina Gilland Campbell. The two friends met while planning a memorial service for the late Nelson Mandela.
While Rasool was standing in the Cathedral’s nave, he reportedly told Campbell that the building’s ornate carvings, arches, and long central aisle reminded him of ancient mosques.
“What struck me was how he could look at our building and see his mosque. That was a powerful moment,” Campbell told HuffPost. “To realize we could be standing in the same spot in the same building and see our own prayer traditions.”
The Jummah prayer is being held with the support of Muslim leaders from the the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), Masjid Muhammad (the Nation’s Mosque), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). The service is for invited guests, but will be livestreamed at the Cathedral’s website.
The plans for the service haven’t been finalized, but Campbell said that the Cathedral is considering removing some chairs from the north transept in order to place carpeting on the floor. The north transept also has limited Christian iconography, which the Cathedral said provided an “ideal space — almost mosque-like — with the appropriate orientation for Muslim prayers.”
Men and women will likely be separated within the space and there will be special seating for elderly worshippers, Campbell said.
Campbell felt that now was an important time for “voices of moderation” in all faith groups to speak out and demonstrate the “unitive power of prayer.”
“Hopefully, out of that will come some other kinds of work together,” Campbell added.
Source: Huff. Post