Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Blog

By Danielle Malaty

When The Spiritual Life Center, a Sacramento Christian church, found itself without a venue to hold its Easter Sunday services this past weekend, the church's Reverend Michael Moran came up with what many may call an unconventional solution. He sought the help of a local mosque. For the past 12 years, church-goers and members of the Spiritual Life Center of Sacramento rented space at the Pioneer Christian Church, but when their lease expired on March 31, the 500-member congregation was left with little time to find somewhere else to hold their Easter Sunday service, which is, historically, the best-attended event of the year.

The leaders of the church reached out to the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM), asking if they would be willing to let them use their mosque for Easter Sunday services. The leaders of SALAM enthusiastically agreed, and The Spiritual Life Center held its Sunday Easter services in the mosque. Leaders of both religious groups said that they hope that by coming together on a sacred Christian holiday, they can promote peace, tolerance, and understanding between the faiths.

"I am so grateful to their open-heartedness and their generosity and really living and demonstrating the spirit of Islam, which is peace," explained Reverend Moran of The Spiritual Life Center. Dr. Irfan Haq of SALAM agreed, hoping that this step would promote peace: “[w]e are all children of Abraham...we need to create a better world, a world of peace, a world of love; and a way people accept each other, enjoy each other, interact with one another, and build a better planet."

"This represents the true peaceful essence of the religion of Islam," Doctor Metwali Amer of SALAM told Islamophobia Today. "I am an advocate of interfaith work." The Islamic Center had never allowed a non-Muslim church to worship or conduct religious services inside the mosque, but after a meeting of between SALAM’s board of trustees, they decided to allow the congregants to use the center's community hall for Easter services.

"We were desperately looking for a place to hold our Easter services. I had a dream and in the dream I saw a newspaper headline that read, 'Easter at the Mosque,'" Rev. Moran told local news reporters. "But when I awoke, I said that will never happen.” Setting his doubts aside, he contacted Mosque leaders at SALAM and was pleasantly surprised by their response. Easter would be held at the Mosque.

Reverend Moran explained to reporters “if there’s going to be peace on earth it’s not going to happen by governments or militaries, it’ll have to happen first in our mosques, in our temples, in our churches, and synagogues….and this for me is a dream come true and I think real genuine authentic step towards peace.” Reverend Moran told reporters that he believes the collaboration between the two religious communities was successful far beyond its original goal of helping the Spiritual Life Center congregants find a place to celebrate Easter.

Though the service received some negative attention, objectors didn't stop Christian worshippers from flooding the mosque to worship. Members of SALAM Community Center described the event as having so much interest that they had to schedule two services -- one at 8:30 a.m. and another at 11 a.m.

As many would suggest, focusing on similarities as opposed to differences during conflict is the first step towards peace. The generosity of this mosque to allow the Christian community in Sacramento to celebrate a holy day serves as an important reminder to Americans, regardless of their faith, to be wary of the simplistic generalizations and false binaries presented by Islamophobes. The cooperation of the church in Sacramento and SALAM is a reassuring example that the American mainstream, despite the vitriol coming from the extreme right, is beginning to treat all individuals, regardless of their religion, with the same outlook, attitude, and respect. 

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