Building Understanding

by the Rev. Joan Dunn

Priest : And lead us not into temptation
Imam : Show us the straight path. The path of those whom Thou has favoured
Not (the path) of those who earn Thine anger. Nor of those who go astray.
Priest : For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever.

On Sunday September 29, this combination Christian/Muslim prayer was said to a congregation filled with Anglican and Muslim workers.  Two Imams and thirty Muslim worshippers had walked from the newly opened Erin Islamic Cultural Center to All Saints Anglican Church (Erin).

This relationship began during the warm summer months. The Reverend Joan Dunn met with people from the Islamic Center to discuss what could be done to foster a positive faith community through education of each others faith principles.

Imam & Priest

And so it began … Muslims were welcomed into the congregation, where they witnessed a eucharist at All Saints. After final prayers were said, all gathered informally for refreshments. Imam Moulana Norrudin then answered questions from the people. These ranged from “why do women worship at the back of the room” to “these prayers sound familiar” (a reference to the Book of Alternative Services).

When All Saints parishioner Lynne Dole asked about the word “jihad”, the Imam said that for many in the West this word means war or aggression against “infidels” (those not of the Muslim faith). He explained that the word itself means effort, striving, struggling to become a good Muslim and informing others about their faith.

Muslim visitors

Following the gathering, Muslim Sister Tricia sent a note to the people of All Saints:

Salam Alaykum.

The warmth, openness, and kindness of all your congregation was felt by all of us, especially those who stayed behind for the refreshments and desserts afterwards during the question and answer period.  May the days efforts lead to greater and better things to come for our community and lead to an even greater understanding that we are all believers though we may practice our faith in different ways.  My only hope is that the members of the Erin Islamic Centre do as well of a job welcoming your church members and make you feel as equally comfortable in a future gathering in our Masjid.

The success of this gathering occurred as a result of the willingness of both faith groups to learn from one another. A positive space provided an open dialogue for all to share.

There is much work to be done to continue the positive outcome of our time together. Unfortunately not all in the village (or in the global village) feel as open and encouraging. By our demonstration of love and freedom of faith, All Saints Anglican Church and the Erin Islamic Cultural Centre will continue to share together for the freedom of faith for all.