Shared Prayer Spaces

A few years ago I was amazed to be sat in a UK cathedral at a service for students led jointly by an Muslim Imam and Christian Bishop. It was one of those moment that led me to believe that Islam might be open to me.

Yet the more I explore the more examples I find…

In 2014 Pope Francis, following the example of Pope Benedict conducted a silent prayer alongside Grand Mufti Rahmi Yaran in Instanbul’s Blue Mosque.

More recently I read about the House of One in Berlin, which has been called a “churmosquagogue” that will bring Muslims, Christians and Jews together under one roof. A shared prayer space that will connect the faiths whilst allowing each to retain its own identity.

In Wolverhampton in the UK the Bishop Clive Gregory and the Imam at Wolverhampton Central mosque, Rashid Raja, have developed the idea of ‘The Bishop and the Imam’ assemblies in schools.

With Ramadan starting soon it’s heart warming to see the Church of England offering guidance around Muslims using its buildings to celebrate Eid. (Click here to read more)

It’s easy to think that this is just modern times and a dilution of true faith … But that’s not true at all.

We know that when Muhammad encountered the Christians of Najran he engaged in dialogue and when they decided to exit the mosque in order to pray their daily prayers outdoors as a sign of the respect that they had for the Islamic prayer space Muhammad had other ideas:

‘As a sign of respect that he had for his Christian guests Muhammad informed the Najranites that they were already present in a house of god and that they were welcome to offer their Christian prayers inside al-Masjid al-Nabawi.”

|People of the Book – Considine 2021 (Ibn Is-haaq [Tafseer Ibn Katheer])

So can Muslims pray in a Church?

There seems some debate around this largely framed around the icons and figures that might be found in some churches. However we are also aware that the Prophet Muhammad himself prayed at the Kabah at a time when there were images in it.

‘Ibn Qudaamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: There is nothing wrong with praying in a church that is clean. It is also included in the words of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him): “Wherever you are when the time for prayer comes, pray, for it [the earth] is a place of prayer.”

End quote from al-Mughni, 1/407. – Click here to explore this further.

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