Skip to comments.New York Catholics visit mosque, learn about Islam
Posted on 08/13/2007 4:37:16 PM PDT by NYer
WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y. (CNS) -- In late July, carloads of curious Catholics caravanned north from their church to a mosque in the next county.
Three dozen Catholics who regularly attend Mass at the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement's Graymoor Spiritual Life Center in Garrison accepted a Muslim visitor's invitation to attend services at Masjid Al-Noor, his mosque in Wappingers Falls.
Entering the two-story white frame building, the visitors placed their shoes alongside their host's on wire racks lining one wall of the foyer.
The women, already modestly covered from chin to ankle, pulled on scarves to cover their hair. The men were directed through double doors to a large simple, rug-covered room on the first floor and the women were invited upstairs to a balcony overlooking the same prayer room.
The walls of the prayer room were sparsely decorated with metal plaques proclaiming God's greatness in Arabic, a large clock and several bookshelves with various editions of the Quran and devotional books. The front of the room had a small, raised carpeted platform for the imam, the religious scholar who led the service.
People greeted one another quietly and lined up, shoulder to shoulder, in rows that stretched across the room. Everyone faced east, the direction of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Islam's holy city. Folding chairs in the back of the two prayer areas were used by people who had difficulty sitting and kneeling on the floor, or accomplishing the deep bows that punctuated the prayers.
Muslims are required to pray five times a day and men are obliged to attend a communal service on Fridays. Women are not required to interrupt their routines to go to the mosque for Friday prayer. Three-quarters of the more than 200 people who attended one recent Friday service at Masjid Al-Noor were men.
The 45-minute service was conducted in spoken and intoned Arabic, with three portions in English: a short reflection on the reading from the Quran, intercessory prayers and communal announcements.
At one Friday service, Imam Mohammed Asil Khan chose to speak on a Scripture passage, or "sura," that described the "Miracles of Jesus and the Miracles of Mohammed." He later explained that Muslims consider Jesus to be a prophet, but not divine.
The Catholic visitors told Catholic News Service they were grateful for the opportunity to attend the services and speak with members of the congregation.
"Our hosts were very welcoming and it was insightful to have casual conversation about being Muslim and learning about the diversity within their own community," said Ruth Ann McAndrews.
She was particularly interested in the discussion of the "challenge of instilling each religion's traditions and faith in the youth through Sunday school and after-school programs."
"The thing that struck me," said Dan Donnelly, "was the commonality that pervades. We have significant doctrinal differences. They don't believe in the Trinity or in the divinity of Jesus, but we have a common father who created us and we should all love one another."
He was also intrigued by the lack of a hierarchy and came to a better understanding of the role of the imam.
"I thought of the imams as the priesthood," he said, "but I learned that they are religious scholars who are chosen by the community to be teachers. If an imam is not available, the people can choose another person to lead the service."
Joyce Evans said, "I left there knowing for certain that our faiths could make us closer to each other. Praying with the Muslims can't take anything away from Catholicism. In fact, it enhances my Catholicism to honor them and work with them."
She continued, "You can read about Islam in a book, but to see the fervor of their devotion really touched me and I came away being a better Catholic."
Most of the worshippers at Masjid Al-Noor are Sunni Muslims, although Shiites are welcome and constitute a small percentage of the congregation, according to Imam Khan. There is no official membership roll, he said, so it is hard to estimate the size of the congregation.
The worship community represents 26 different countries and includes a small number of converts. Imam Khan is a Pakistani who holds master's degrees in Arabic and Islamic studies. He has a full-time association with the mosque.
Atonement Father James J. Gardiner, director of the Graymoor Spiritual Life Center, organized the visits, which came out of a December 2006 event at the center.
"At our Advent vespers, we invited people from different traditions to speak. We had Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Christian Missionary Alliance and Muslim speakers," he said. "At the time, Umar H. Ahmad was the president of the Mid-Hudson Islamic Association, which worships at Masjid Al-Noor.
"Dr. Ahmad spoke 'In Praise of Mary' and at the end of his talk he invited the participants to visit his mosque, attend services and enjoy fellowship with the imam and other members of the congregation," the priest said. So two visits were scheduled in July.
Imam Khan expressed interest in making a reciprocal visit to Graymoor. "Quran tells us that how you deal with your neighbors is very important," he said.
they learnt... how to destroy it ?
And thus the religion of islam is BLASPHEMOUS to ALL Christians no matter their denomination.
I wonder if the muslims from Wappinger's Falls (only a few miles down the road from me!) will be going to Mass at the church in Garrision? Ugh. This is sickening...I can safely say that if the imam from the giant mosque at Lexington and 95th St called my bishop at my cathedral on Park & 93rd to have a field trip my bishop would tell him to get lost.
The local mosque in our town had an “open house” a couple of weeks ago and invited local churches to come and learn about islam. Our priest thought that I would be a good candidate to attend this event. I politely declined. Seriously - what would be accomplished by me attending?
And this is in a small town of about 7000 people. I’m sure the event went over like a lead balloon.
Thank you very much for those links! The video should be required viewing for all christians!
Wappingers Falls is loaded with all ex city folk who ran up the line. These people are their own worst enemy. Sick indeed.
Bishop Sheen believed that the miracle of Fatima would be the bridge that would bring Mohammedans to Christianity, since Mary enjoys an exalted position within Mohammedanism, and Fatima was Mohammed's daughter.
Praying with them would probably be wrong. Attending and observing would be OK. Exactly what happened is unclear to me.
The truth will set you free.
And then consider the nature and fruits of Mohammedanism. Yeah, I'm pretty sure Mohammed was visited by the "light-bringer."
Apparently Bishop Sheen got duped...It's working the other way around...
Catholics are embracing Islam...And not a peep from a Bishop, Cardinal or Pope...
Oh well...Both your religions face the moon god in the east when you worship...
What's interesting is that to most Catholics, we Protestants are an anathema...Even tho we confess Jesus as our Savior...But yet your religion is beginning to cuddle up with muzlims...
And what is the common denominator??? It's not God in the flesh...It's not salvation...It's not the Holy Scripture...
It's Mary, the Queen of Heaven...That's your common denominator...You have a common bond and it's not God...
They confuse Ghandi for St. Francis, just as they confuse Karl Marx for Jesus of Nazareth.
Is that like holding black belts?
God Bless your pastor for the courage to go to that seminar and to be able to persevere in asking those questions to the Muslim speaker. As a person who came from Lebanon, he would have first hand knowledge and experence in knowing the truth about Islam and the Koran. Truly Islam is not on a HERESY but also a CULT.
....Or from 9/11.
...And remember that the devil can appear as an “angel of light”, even an archangel, so this is why Muhammed was fearful.