Sunday, 13 December 2015

Splendid Festival with Sarasota/Bradenton Muslim Community.

Yesterday (Saturday 12th November 2015) together with Susan Rife (a friend from St. Boniface Church) and her husband Steve Kreidler (a Greek Orthodox Christian, and a good friend to St. Boniface) I attended the Second Annual International Food and Crafts Festival at the Islamic Society of Sarasota/Bradenton,

First, I am happy to say that there was a huge turnout at the event.  Sarasota and Manatee County residents turned out in full force.

Second, I rejoiced in this event: a time for learning, trusting, and praying.

Members of the Islamic Society of Sarasota/Bradenton were second to none in their gracious hospitality.  If my vibes were accurate, most of us felt immediately at home.

Some were there to ask questions about Islam.

Many of us were there to show solidarity with the American Muslim community which is under great siege, especially following the dangerous and divisive rhetoric of Mr. Donald Trump.

The Christian New Testament says that "there is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear".  The scriptures which Jews and Christians have in common  teach us to "love our neighbour as ourselves".

I was at the Festival in the spirit of those biblical teachings.  My understanding is that the followers of  Moses and Jesus have no mandate to hate or fear our Muslim neigbours.

The food was great:  (memories of my visit to Lebanon!)

Home made Yogurt Custard.

Lamb Kebabs.


 Rice Pilaf.


Muslim brothers and sisters were at hand to extend a welcome, and to answer questions with grace and with truth.

We were invited to attend the 1:00 p.m. Prayer Service. The only request was that we should remove our shoes.  Non-Muslim women had the option of being in the Mosque or in the Women's Gallery. (If you think that the idea a Women's Gallery is odd, do note that many Orthodox Jewish Synagogues have a separate space for women, and that in some Christian (Amish) communities men and women are segregated.)

What is most important is that Steve and I knelt together in the Mosque,

The prayers (in a language we did not understand) were for me utterly authentic.

I knew that the faithful Muslims were praying to the same God who is at the heart of my prayers.

Christians, Jews, and Muslims have different teachings and concepts of the HOLY AND ETERNAL ONE;

But if there is only one true God he/she/it is:

(a)  The ineffable and unnameable Y-H-W-E of Judaism.

(b)  The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ in Christianity.

(c)  The Allah of Islam.
The Mosque from outside
Mosque Leader Shiraz Hassan. who made us especially welcome. (What a beautiful face!)

Yusuf Memon, the young Imam
Muslims and their friends in the Mosque.  To my right (as you view the photo'} Susan and Steve.  To my left, in the back row (face partly hidden)  new friend Samira Davis who  asked for the photo' to be taken.   In the department of small world --  Samira is a graduate of the University of Bristol (U.K.)  -  my home town!

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