News / USA

    National Cathedral Holds Friday Muslim Prayers

    Washington's National Cathedral Hosts First Friday Muslim Prayersi
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    Jerome Socolovsky
    November 15, 2014 1:30 AM
    A group of Muslims were invited to worship on Friday in the Washington National Cathedral. The hope was that an Islamic service in one of America’s best-known churches would send a message of interfaith harmony to counter extremists’ use of religion to justify hatred and strife. VOA Religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
    Washington's National Cathedral Hosts First Friday Muslim Prayers

    Prayer carpets were laid out under the soaring arches of the Washington National Cathedral early Friday for an unprecedented Muslim worship service in one of the best known churches in the United States.

    Reverend Gina Campbell welcomed worshippers, declaring the Washington National Cathedral "a place of prayer for all people."

    "Let us stretch our hearts and let us seek to deepen mercy for we worship the same God," she told the men and women sitting separately in rows, on the floor before her.

    Muslims conduct an unprecedented worship service at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Nov. 14, 2014. (D. Manis / VOA)Muslims conduct an unprecedented worship service at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Nov. 14, 2014. (D. Manis / VOA)
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    Muslims conduct an unprecedented worship service at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Nov. 14, 2014. (D. Manis / VOA)
    Muslims conduct an unprecedented worship service at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Nov. 14, 2014. (D. Manis / VOA)

    In the sermon, or Khutba, Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool praised religious freedom in America and lashed out against extremism, specifically mentioning Islamic militants who have slaughtered Christians in the Middle East.

    "If we do not stop them at the monasteries, they will make their way to the mosques," he said.

    Church leaders and their Muslim partners say they hope the Friday Jumaa prayers will send a message of interfaith brotherhood that counters extremists’ use of religion to justify hatred and strife.

    Muslims conduct an unprecedented worship service at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Nov. 14, 2014. (D. Manis / VOA)Muslims conduct an unprecedented worship service at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Nov. 14, 2014. (D. Manis / VOA)
    x
    Muslims conduct an unprecedented worship service at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Nov. 14, 2014. (D. Manis / VOA)
    Muslims conduct an unprecedented worship service at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Nov. 14, 2014. (D. Manis / VOA)

    The idea came to the cathedral's director of religious liturgy, Rev. Gina Campbell, and South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, who is a Muslim, when they organized an interfaith memorial service for Nelson Mandela last year.

    In an interview with VOA, Rasool said he hopes some day non-Muslims will be allowed to pray according to their own traditions even in mosques in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam.

    “I think that we must return to the Muslim prophetic tradition in which the Prophet, may peace be upon him, invited Christians to his own mosque that he established in Medina - and to say to them, you can pray here.”

    Friday's worship by Muslims in the historic American church provoked a backlash from conservative Christians.

    Franklin Graham, son of evangelical leader Billy Graham, wrote on his Facebook page: “It’s sad to see a church open its doors to the worship of anything other than the One True God of the Bible.”

    Just before the prayers started, a protester jumped out in front of the bank of TV cameras and shouted “Jesus died on that cross!” She was escorted away.

    The carpets were arrayed diagonally in the transept, to the side of the sanctuary, so that worshipers can face in the direction of Mecca without seeing crosses or Christian icons. Muslims are not supposed to pray in view of sacred symbols alien to their faith.

    Ambassador Rasool said the service is meant to be both a symbol for America's three million Muslims to feel welcomed in its predominantly Christian society, as well as for Muslims in countries where they are the majority, to show hospitality to people of minority faiths.

    Despite its name, the Washington National Cathedral is not an official U.S. government church, which is prohibited by the Constitution. However, the Episcopal church, which is funded by private donations, does possess important symbolic value and regularly hosts official events, such as presidential inaugurations and funerals.

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    Comments page of 3
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    by: cvdh from: canada
    December 10, 2014 8:25 PM
    Gina Campbell is mistaken....The muslims and christians do NOT worship the same God. Jesus Christ, the Son of God is not the muslim god

    by: Anonymous
    December 01, 2014 2:41 PM
    I can't record where Christian were welcome in a mosque to pray, the end time is really near be mindful Christian!!

    by: ashley from: Auckland, New Zealand
    November 29, 2014 7:36 PM
    It is all good about interfaith dialogue but can someone jog my memory when Christians were welcomed in any mosque anywhere to praise God and extend hand of friendship. When will West learn that one way friendship is no friendship at all. In a religion of fear how can you allow others in - they will lose members?

    by: Anisa
    November 27, 2014 9:50 PM
    wow!! great. It reminds me of the early Islamic period when Christians were welcomed openheartedly in the mosque by the Prophet of Islam. God Bless them.Amen

    by: Jacqueline from: Houston
    November 16, 2014 4:43 PM
    HOORAY for this woman speaking out. The Christian cathedrals are for Christians to worship in, not for Muslim to rearrange things so they can pray facing mecca. When are Americans going to awaken from their deep sleep and ignorance about Islam and Shariah Law?? There are plenty of Mosques around let them pray in their own Mosque.
    In Response

    by: Jacqueline from: Houston
    November 17, 2014 11:50 AM
    To Sibling: This is not about hate, it is about they have their mosques why don't they use them for praying. If you think the Muslims like you, think again. You are nothing to them except that you are an INFIDEL; their teachings dictate infidels are to be "done away with." Decapitations are common and the way Mohammad wanted it. Read a little more about Islam and their beliefs --- they will never assimilate into our society.
    In Response

    by: Sibiling lovechild from: Red,Nexus,TX
    November 17, 2014 3:55 AM
    A good example of Christian tolerance in west marred by personal bias and hatred? Such petty woman you are. This event was to bring people closer, no Christian cathedrals are for owners to decide, not you. I'm glad you know so much, so far you failed christian teaching by preaching hate and hostility.

    by: anonyomus from: USA
    November 16, 2014 4:02 AM
    the fact that west is not aganist islam.islam is aganist the west
    In Response

    by: Somebody from: FKUSA
    November 16, 2014 10:03 AM
    Er, logically flawed and incorrect but you are westerner. Try again. The west seems against everyone, it doesn't agree with.

    by: ARIELY SHEIN from: Jerusalem
    November 16, 2014 2:44 AM
    When the Muslims living in free countries, enjoin human rights, will demonstrate in masses and loudly demanding:
    -- Muslim countries to guaranty the same rights to non Muslims in their countries,
    --Islamists to recognizance the equal religious freedom for all non Muslim religions
    --Change the narrative of imposing worldwide Islam by endless war --Join the 21 century quest to build a better life for mankind and stop the preaching and teaching of 7 century aspirations
    --Demand to build in Mecca a memorial shrine celebrating the tolerance to all religions open to people worldwide Islam,Christianity, Hidu ,Jewsh religions.
    ***** It will be obvious that they are honest and loyal citizens to their host country
    In Response

    by: Steve
    November 17, 2014 6:47 AM
    You're a Hasbara troll, what's your point? You already contradicted yourself by going on racial lines, by claiming Arabs to be violent and Jews being peaceful and then claim Israel doesn't have any discrimination. All you posting is Israeli propaganda, with slandering and disparaging language like Brain washed on people who dislike Israel, notes a personal bias. There's no integrity in your words, all does re infirm what I was saying about Israel, being an criminal state .
    In Response

    by: Shein Ariely
    November 17, 2014 1:50 AM
    Facts- anti Israelis , pls open your ears and review your mislead assumptions
    What Arabs ( not the brained washed once) are saying?
    Very few examples:
    1: Abdel Bioud from Algeria wrote:
    --If you’re a citizen in Israel, you can live peacefully, raise a family, and send your kids to competitive and globally recognized universities.
    --- This simple basic respect for human dignity put them light-years ahead of any Arab state.
    ----Israel is the only place in the Middle East where your potential can be fully expressed.
    ----Based on the values it stands for and the principles that it was founded on, Israel is a force of good for that region and for the world.

    2:Dr. Hamid the Chair for the Study of Islamic Radicalism at the Potomac Institute and formerly a member of the radical terrorist group Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya group in Egypt:
    ""You have one million Arabs living in Israel with the Jews, and they are not suffering like the Arabs who are actually controlled by Arabs elsewhere in the region""
    In Response

    by: Shein Ariely
    November 17, 2014 1:48 AM
    Facts- anti Israelis , pls open your ears and review your wrong assumptions

    Where are Arabs happy?
    Arabs are happy in Israel but not in Muslim ruled countries!
    1: In the 2013 World Happiness Report, based on data from 156 countries between 2010 and 2012 the ranks are:
    Jordan =74.--Lebanon =97--Egypt =130—Syria=148--Sudan=124.Iran=115.--Iraq =105--Tunisia=104--Syria =148.
    *** Israel ranked 11th.
    (United States ranked 17th, United Kingdom placed 22nd)


    2: Results of Israeli Arabs poll are:
    72% of Israeli Arabs prefer to live in Israel than in any other country in ME.
    They graded that the life is much better for them and more prosperous that it would be any place else.
    Arabs in Israel recognized that they have rights and privileges that Arabs/Iranians living in Muslim regimes can only dream of.

    http://unsdsn.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/WorldHappinessReport2013_online.pdf
    In Response

    by: Steve
    November 16, 2014 3:36 PM
    The idea racial victim-hood while condemning an entire an population with lack of judicial integrity and added with the fact of illegal settlements, war crimes, human right abuses, torture and racialism within its IDF and security. Does question, how much lies can this country of despot of exceptionalists can get away?
    In Response

    by: Steever
    November 16, 2014 2:42 PM
    I disagree, you're extremist conduct of condemning an entire race falls short of the UN human rights charter. It seems Israel is again provoking hostility here, to encourage fail peace talk and land grabbing. Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocca, Lebanon, Turkey, UAE, Qatar for one have similar charter, if you stop with western sensationalism it would help. You on the otherhand are condemning Muslims and claiming you're Israel stand for freedom of belief? Contradiction and hypocrisy. Lol, you seem to deaf, dumb and muted on documented crimes by your state.It seem Israel violation of international laws and crimes seem to dismissed by you. Yes because a Jewish person thinks Jewish people are perfect, lol didn't Jewish settlers abduct a teenager chained him and beat in their homes. Wow, how civilized.
    In Response

    by: Shein Ariely
    November 16, 2014 1:08 PM
    Why Israel had to limit the age of prayers entering the Mosque?
    Because of Arab violence against Jewish prayers!
    (Facts that the hypocrite media refrains to disclose)

    Israel stands for all religious freedom and is included in the Israel independence declaration:
    "" will guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture""
    ""will safeguard the sanctity and inviolability of the shrines and Holy Places
    of all religions""
    ( A similar declaration cannot be founded in any of the Arabs- Islamist Iran states)

    The Arabs used the protection of the Muslim Mosques to commit acts of violence against the Jews.
    In several occasions Arabs used to through stones and Molotov bottles on the Jewish praying on the welling wall- the most holly Jewish site.
    After the Friday ceremonies, incited by the preachers- while returning from the Mosques, the young's confronted the Israeli police and attacked bypassing civilians.
    The Jordanian waqf, in charge with the Mosque has the duty to avoid the violence and incitement.
    ----
    No Arab violence- no restrictions
    And a reminder:
    The west leader never intervenes when the Arabs controlled the old city no Jew was allowed to pray at the Western Wall.
    But when the defending Israel protects its civilians against Arabs atrocities, they help the Arab aggressors.
    In Response

    by: Steever
    November 16, 2014 10:47 AM
    So would the same logic apply to Israel? You said Mecca, so why wouldn't Jewish people allow Palestinians to have free access and rights as Jewish people? Why would Jewish impose their aspirations of 2 BC and alleged vicitimisation onto Palestinains?
    In Response

    by: Sing
    November 16, 2014 10:14 AM
    This coming from someone from living in apartheid state, with countless discrimination, human rights abuses, war crimes and land grabbing. Sounds like complete dishonest approach and abusive to me, is this how Jewish people lecture people, with disregard to others.

    by: Denis Aljukic from: Bosnia, Tuzla
    November 15, 2014 2:23 PM
    America is a great country. Beautiful.
    This surprised me and reminded me of the old America where being Muslim was a normal thing. I know that war changes people.
    I am from Bosnia, and do not practice the faith. I think that the things that divide people should be banned. But it is against democracy. And I love democracy.
    You probably have more things in common with the Muslims, but with me.
    I believe in science and I love planet earth.
    So, continue to do good things for the world. And if you believe in God, ask him to oil miraculously disappear.
    In Response

    by: R Sommers from: midwest USA
    November 15, 2014 2:59 PM
    You should learn more of the inspiring history of Islamic scholars, scientists and mathematicians throughout history....!!

    by: Shehzil from: Pakistan
    November 15, 2014 12:16 PM
    First of all; All Arbahamics religions follow the same GOD! Muslims believe Jesus was a PROPHET and he would appear on the day of judgment to awaken us all. And the misconception that Muslims are told by Allah(God in Arabic b/c it has no plural) to hate other religions is WRONG. We are asked to RESPECT all religion otherwise it's a sin but yes the word JIHAD(self defence) is against the oppressors or the ones who pose a threat(even against Muslims; if bad). And the biggest jihad is "Jihad Akbar" which is jihad with ones own self, own soul. Education is a DUTY in Islam for both MEN&WOMEN. And yes Quran is not all about fighting and self defence; it is all scientific and history. Get to know Islam and then hate on it! I've read some Chritians saying our religion is not the same, we consider Jesus the son of God but they don't. People a lot of Christians even don't consider Jesus the son of God. I'm not always a fan of US but I liked this initiative. Bye, Peace

    by: Larry McClelland from: Maryland
    November 15, 2014 12:01 PM
    It is not the National Cathedral and your disclaimer did not go far enough to address that. This was simply a stunt using media manipulation to achieve headlines for what is an increasingly irrelevant building given the fractures within the Anglican and Episcopalian Churches.
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