An imam from Leeds invites Christians and Jews to the mosque over Easter
“What are you doing on Good Friday?” asks a good friend of mine. This is a question you would expect a Christian to be asking. But it’s actually being asked by my friend Qari Muhammad Asim, the imam of Makkah Masjid in Leeds. He’s issued an invitation for Christians and Jews to join Muslims on Good Friday in his mosque – a rather remarkable offering.
“Come and spend some of your Good Friday with us in the House of Allah!” he says. “Jewish Passover and Easter are in the Glorious Qur’an.”
Qari will be talking about the stories of Moses and Jesus, about the Jewish Passover, about the Qu’ran and its depiction of Jesus rising to heaven, and the issues of similarity and interfaith work between Muslims and other faiths in modern Britain.
It was so interesting and encouraging to see this interest in both Easter and the Jewish Passover (which coincide) that I decided to interview Qari about his motivations.
Julian Bond (Christian Muslim Forum): What gave you the idea for giving an Easter lecture in your masjid?
Qari Asim (QA): We usually do this on Easter Sunday. We do it because it is an important day in the Christian calendar. I decided to do it on Good Friday this year because of the closeness of Passover, and also to encourage more people to come after Friday prayers. We share so much and this is a good opportunity to raise awareness. There will also be Easter eggs for the children.
JB: Would you like to offer Easter greetings to Christians?
QA: Yes! Happy Easter to Christian friends.
JB: How aware are you about Christian beliefs and the significance of Easter?
QA: I have attended lectures on Christian beliefs by local Christian ministers and have read books like The Idiot’s Guide to Christianity. When I talk about Christian beliefs I describe what Christians believe without ridicule, such as the crucifixion and resurrection. These are areas, of course, where Muslim beliefs differ.
JB: How important is it for Muslims to understand Christian beliefs and for Christians to understand Muslim beliefs?
QA: It’s extremely important. Fear of the unknown creates tension and barriers, and people can become isolationist. If we understand where people are coming from, we can be more peaceful and harmonious. Diversity is part of the divine plan: we should be confident in our own faith, not fearful, and be prepared to listen. For Christians, I would say that if we know where we differ, and understand each other’s beliefs, we can be more objective and form an impression of the faith itself – rather than be misled by people’s actions. Then we can move on to open and frank dialogue.
JB: How does your congregation react to inter faith initiatives?
QA: They are open-minded, especially when they have encountered Christianity through RE teaching in school. We have worked together with the local church to feed the homeless.
JB: Could you comment on the Jewish festival of Passover/Pesach?
QA: The story of the Passover and escape from Egypt is told in the Qur’an too. It has important messages about standing up to tyrants and freedom of belief.
JB: Would you like to see Christians offering similar talks?
QA: It would be great to see Christians giving talks about Islam, especially Ramadan and the Hajj season. Making these links with other traditions can capture people’s imaginations.
Many thanks Muhammad.
Image from: http://antonk.com/2012/04/06/thank-good-its-friday/
Reclaim Your Stage:
The Platform is a groundbreaking blog that provides current affairs and cultural commentary. Our pieces offer challenging opinions from a range of spectrums; that’s why we love hosting a platform for them.