SHAFAQNA – Muslims observing Ramadan have found a unique place to gather with other members of their faith and celebrate – the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints on North Belair Road.
“It’s a show of our support of religious tolerance. Our church is open for them,” said Diane Jensen, who handles public relations for the church.
Jensen said that some of those who use their cultural hall for their celebration are members of the military community. There are several people from the church who work at Fort Gordon and have worked to foster relationships between the church and those of the Islamic faith.
“Some of them have served in the Middle East, and they have a great love for the Muslim people,” she said.
Ramadan is the holiest month of the Islamic year. It commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. Muslims follow a lunar calendar so the month of Ramadan began on May 27 and ends on June 25. The month is marked by fasting and feasting as well as a time of charity, prayer and reading the Quran. Muslims, except those who are exempt such as the elderly, breast-feeding women and those who are ill, fast from dawn to sunset.
Area Muslims have come together on Saturdays during Ramadan at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to break their fast and pray together.
Each week has brought more people to the church as word has gotten out, Jensen said, adding that not all Muslims in the area are members of a mosque, and this provides a safe and free location for them.
The meeting hall has a capacity of about 300 people, she said, and there’s room for others in the faith to join . About 50 people attended last week. They typically meet around 7:45 p.m. and have a potluck meal.
While this is the first Ramadan the church has opened its doors to the Muslim community, it’s not the first time Muslims have used the facility. They’ve used it during other Islamic holidays.
“We already had a working relationship with them,” she said. “They’ve been using our facility for about two to three years.”