A Scottish church has become the first in the UK to share its premises with Muslim worshippers. St John’s Episcopal Church in Aberdeen now welcomes hundreds of Muslims praying five times a day in their building as the nearby mosque was so small that they were forced to worship outside.
UK DAILY MAIL The minister of St John’s, Rev Isaac Poobalan, has handed over part of the church hall to Chief Imam Ahmed Megharbi and the imam has led prayers in the main chapel.
‘The mosque was so full at times, there would be people outside in the wind and rain praying. ‘I knew I couldn’t just let this happen – because I would be abandoning what the Bible teaches us about how we should treat our neighbours. (Even the ones whose holy book calls for unbelievers to be tortured or killed hundreds of times?)
‘When I spoke to people at the church about the situation, someone actually said to me this was not our problem, but I had seen it with my own eyes, so it was a problem.
Rev Poobalan said: ‘They were out there praying and the snow came on for the first time in winter, it was really hard to watch. ‘When they were doing the prayer they had their hands and feet exposed and they were sitting on on the pavement, which is very rough.
Rev Poobalan said he wanted the move to help build bridges between Christians and Muslims after some initial resistance from his congregation about the move.
Rev Poobalan, 50, said being surrounded by Islam while growing up in India helped break down the divide for worshippers of two religions praying together in Aberdeen.
Sheikh Ahmed Megharbi of the Syed Shah Mustafa Jame Masjid mosque said: ‘What happens here is special and there should be no problem repeating this across the country. (DING DING DING DAWAH TIME)
St John’s is part of the Scottish Episcopal Church, which is part of the Anglican Communion and distinct from the presbyterian Church of Scotland.
The Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney, the Right Rev Dr Robert Gillies said that this relationship could be the start of a change in dynamics between the two faiths.
Dr Gillies said: ‘It would be good to think we can change the world.’Most of us most of the time feel we can’t so don’t bother. ‘But sometimes, someone has a vision we can do something of global significance on a local scale.
‘This is what is happening between St John’s and the mosque in its grounds. ‘Everyone can do something locally and if more were to do so then something big might just begin to happen globally.’
Dr Gillies said that the ‘eyes of the world’ were now focused on the two faiths represented in the building on the city’s Crown Terrace. Although the Christian church regards Jesus as the son of God, the Muslim faith views him as a key prophet (of ISLAM!).