Muslim Friday prayers to be offered at Washington National Cathedral

Posted Nov 11, 2014

[Washington National Cathedral] Washington National Cathedral and five Muslim groups have announced that the first celebration of Muslim Friday prayers (Jumaa) at the cathedral will be observed on Friday, Nov. 14.

“Leaders believe offering Muslim prayers at the Christian cathedral shows more than hospitality,” according to a cathedral media advisory. “It demonstrates an appreciation of one another’s prayer traditions and is a powerful symbolic gesture toward a deeper relationship between the two Abrahamic traditions.”

The prayers will be held between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and will be attended by the Rev. Canon Gina Campbell, director of liturgy for Washington National Cathedral, South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, Masjid Muhammad of The Nation’s Mosque,
and representatives from the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Society of North America, Muslim Public Affairs Council.

The opportunity grew out of a “trusted relationship” between Campbell and Rasool, who met while planning the national memorial service for Nelson Mandela, the advisory said.

“Deep relationships come out of prayer,” said Campbell. “Different connections come out of being in prayer — beyond the political or academic.”

Rasool thanked Campbell for the cathedral’s generous offer to use Friday prayers as a beginning to a deeper conversation and partnership. “This is a dramatic moment in the world and in Muslim-Christian relations,” said Rasool. “This needs to be a world in which all are free to believe and practice and in which we avoid bigotry, Islamaphobia, racism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Christianity and to embrace our humanity and to embrace faith.”

The cathedral has welcomed Muslims in the past, often at interfaith services and events, as well as at the Interfaith Conference of Greater Washington’s annual concert and specific programs such as the 2008 Ramadan Iftar at the Cathedral College. But this is the first time the cathedral has invited Muslims to come and lead their own prayers in a space known as a house of prayer for all people.

Planners hope that the people around the world will take note of this service and the welcome extended by the cathedral so that Muslims everywhere will adopt a reciprocal welcome of Christians by Muslims.

The prayers will be offered in the north transept, an area of the cathedral with arches and limited iconography that provide an ideal space — almost mosque-like — with the appropriate orientation for Muslim prayers.

The prayers will also be webcast live from the cathedral’s website.


Comments (63)

  1. Rich Basta says:

    This is not a good development. They invited representatives from the Muslim Brotherhood founded organizations, CAIR and ISNA, to attend, who are documented, un-indicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism trial. It is inclusiveness taken to an absurd extreme.

    In the Holy Land Foundation trial, abundant evidence was introduced — much of it in the form of internal documents seized from Muslim Brotherhood officials — proving that the Brotherhood
    sees its mission in the United States as a “grand jihad” to destroy the West from within by “sabotage.”

    The Brotherhood formed a Palestine Committee whose mandate was to support Hamas. Palestine Committee members included HLF and, later, the Brotherhood’s new creation, CAIR. Meantime, Brotherhood documents named ISNA and the NAIT as partners in its “grand jihad.” In fact, HLF was housed for a time at ISNA’s Indiana offices, and checks were often routed to Hamas through a joint ISNA/NAIT bank account.

    Ecumenical efforts at outreach and interfaith prayer services are one thing, and to be encouraged from time to time, but to invite representatives from known radical Islamic terror groups to take over your prayer space when they have their own worship spaces is quite another.

    Good Lord!

    1. Fr. Paul Clayton says:

      I wonder if the Muslim liturgical material to be used at our National Cathedral will include the confession that God is one and has no Son!

      The Rev’d Paul Clayton, Ph. D., retired ecumenical and interfaith officer of the Diocese of New York.

      1. The Rev'd John Edson says:

        The National Cathedral is a House of Prayer for all people, but, lest we forget, God drove Israel’s warring nations out of the Temple in Jerusalem. Should we invite known enemies to offer prayers at the Cathedral? I think not!

  2. Danny Anderson says:

    Guess they don’t mind losing more donation money. I know 5 people that are friends of the cathedral that will stop now.

    1. Janet McMannis says:

      And I know one person who will start sending money now……ME and anyone else that truly wants to follow what Jesus taught.

      1. Larry Quisenberry says:

        In John 14:6 Jesus said, ” I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus loves everyone. But He never ask us to compromise this teaching. There are enough people in our society who believe that we are all serving one God. As a Christian who happens to be a member of the Episcopal Church I do not think that praying to Allah in the cathedral is honoring my God the father, God the Holy spirit, and God the Son. Allah isn’t in there.
        It is apparent the Episcopal Church has a disease that being spread by the big deceiver. I don’t think the people realized that the Muslim will not compromise their belief. I hope you don’t believe that a group of Christian would be permitted to pray in a Muslim mosque. I think it is clear that the National Cathedral is not consistent with what Jesus taught when He said (again), I am the TRUTH and the LIFE. NO ONE comes to the FATHER EXCEPT through ME (JESUS not Allah). I am seriously considering leaving the Episcopal Church. There are churches teach that the only way to God is through His son Jesus Christ.

        1. Nolan McBride says:

          It is worth remembering that Allah is simply the Arabic word for God. Arab Christians use it to refer to Our Lord as well. While I may be incorrect, I believe they were using it long before Islam existed.

  3. Jane Picardi says:

    I’ve had enough. I am now an Anglican. This confirms my decision.

  4. Jessica Hitchcock says:

    I think this is awesome. I’m going to go to show my support.

  5. Brad Howard says:

    I often work with people of other religions (and no religion at all) on areas of common concern. It would never occur to me to ask to hold a Christian rite in a mosque out if respect; I can’t imagine any Episcopalian being so thoughtless as to make that request. By the same token, I expect the same respect towards the sacred places of my religion by people of other faiths. This decision goes beyond ecumenical cooperation and crosses a line. Islam and Christianity teach mutually exclusive things. I think this is a very poor decision that reflects poorly on the church and underscores our inability to articulate anything meaningful about our religious identity. It is no accident that TEC is in decline while Islam is on the ascendancy. There is a snake in our garden saying some things that are clearly, bright-line wrong.

    1. Doug Desper says:

      Well said, Brad. The single common thread we have with Islam is the line of Abraham, and even that is a point of contention. It is a very tortured thought process that eliminates The Incarnation of Jesus Christ to have something vaguely in common with Islam which denies it.
      The National Cathedral has mistakenly taken its motto “A House of Prayer for All People” to mean that any deity will be accomodated. Long ago I, and several in my circles, returned donation requests by the National Cathedral with notes to remove us from their lists. It’s a pity that it has come to this.

    2. Janet McMannis says:

      Your statement shows your ignorance.
      During the first Gulf War the late Casey Kasem’s mosque in Los Angeles was open to continueous prayers during the days of that was. Christian leaders and Jewish leaders as well as Muslim clerics conducted prayer services throughout the conflict.
      You have a deep misunderstanding of the Koran and an even deeper misunderstanding of the teachings of Jesus who asked that we love our enemies leave the judgements to God.

      1. Zachary Brooks says:

        You’re being silly if “loving your enemies” means “facilitating their errors.”

      2. Brad Howard says:

        Janet, please be civil. You can make your points without resorting to attacks ad hominem.

    3. Brian Cherry says:

      Nailed it, Rich, Zachary and Doug! Well said.

  6. Lisa Hlass says:

    We have boundaries and our religions have boundaries, but I believe that God is bieyond all our boundaries. Here’s one Episcopalian grateful for the National Cathedral being open for prayers to God from other faiths. If we are to survive and thrive, we must come together.

    1. Janet McMannis says:

      Thank you from another Episcopalian. I plan to be there.

  7. Patrick McDonald says:

    I have seen some things that have amazed me. The naivety displayed here is the icing on the cake. How many christian towns have been destroyed and christians murdered in the middle east? Not 1400 years ago but last year. Do you think that, instead of prayer, putting an end to those murderous acts would “… demonstrates an appreciation of one another’s prayer traditions and is a powerful symbolic gesture toward a deeper relationship between the two Abrahamic traditions.” ? Do you think that just the simple act of condemnation from CAIR and other muslim groups would be a start? I dare you to make a request to hold a Sunday mass at any Mosque.

  8. John L Finlon says:

    I have a concern concerning security. The webcast can be viewed also by by those of the Islamic faith who are militant. Will they view their non-militant brethren as “infidels” thereby putting them potentially in harms way? Is the National Cathedral putting itself at potential risk by hosting such an event and has that been discussed? It is sad, but there are evil people in this world set upon doing bad things. I also have other concerns about this event but they have been well articulated above and elaboration on my part would serve only as repetition.

  9. Debi Brown says:

    I reserve judgment on this inter-faith effort. I will think it successful when we have Sunday prayers in a commensurate mosque on a regular basis.

  10. Mark Hatch says:

    Is it still the case that possession of a Bible and sharing Christian prayers/belief is a seriously punishable offense in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and elsewhere? I know that I have been denied entry to mosques in Indonesia, Israel, the Philippines, Africa. Possibly this has changed but I have not heard so. While reciprocity of religious freedom is not a mandate it does seem like an essential foundation, in some way, for building these interfaith connections. Is there any effort by a group from National Cathedral to hold prayer in such locales?

  11. The Rev. Daniel Prechtel says:

    I am proud of the Episcopal leadership of the Washington National Cathedral for this initiative in showing respect and hospitality to another of the major faith traditions in our nation and world. This cathedral is envisioned as a house of prayer for all peoples and stands as a symbol for our national capacity for prayer and conscience. It is not a surprise to see fearful and angry words immediately react against this new thing. It is normal to fear changes that possibly threaten a fixed and comfortable Christian identity and support the dominant myth that this is a Christian nation. But that way fails to evidence the signs of the Spirit at work. Instead let us build healthy relationships across faith traditions. This is one such effort.

    1. Brian Cherry says:

      Rev. Prechtel, in the Episcopal Tradition of “agreement is not required,” I respectfully but PASSIONATELY disagree. CAIR, one of the participatory organizations in the event, has well-documented ties to Hamas and other terrorist organizations. So intertwined are CAIR and Hamas that in 2009, the FBI severed all ties with CAIR, with which it had fostered a cooperative relations after September 11, 2001. ISNA has similar ties to Hamas’ funding. I became an Episcopalian because we- I thought- stood for self-determination, peace, the empowerment of women, helping the poor, and the acceptance of LBGT people- all while acknowledging the Holy Trinity as the source of our strength and power. Here, “our” church has decided to be lead by the blind hand of political correctness, ignoring the fact that these organizations fund an organization that represents the antithesis of all those things. Among those are the destruction of the State of Israel, the indiscriminate launching of rockets at civilian targets which take the lives of the innocent, and the global support of terrorism. Also, consider that men and women will be segregated during their service. How is this consistent with our values? I haven’t even addressed the fact that Islam denies the divinity of Christ, the central tenet of our faith! For the first time, I am ashamed to call myself an Episcopalian. The Episcopal Church needs to stand up for something- our purported values.
      An newly ashamed member of the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan

    2. Brad Howard says:

      Daniel, reasonable people often disagree. But please don’t straw man.

      1. The Rev. Daniel Prechtel says:

        Brad, I may have unintentionally veered in that direction and I do apologize. Reasonable people do often disagree.

  12. Rich Basta says:

    Rev. Prechtel:

    Your statements have so many holes in them, that I don’t know where to begin, but here goes:

    1. Those who are using angry words in this instance are not children that need to be scolded by you. There is such a thing such as righteous anger. You may recall Jesus’ anger at the money changers in the Temple who were desecraing a holy worship space. So, I would posit that this anger is not that of a child who lashes out, but at those terrorist-supporting groups like CAIR who violate the sanctity of a Christian worship space. Jesus was not raecting to a new thing. He was reacting to what he perceived to be a bad thing. Or, was Jesus (and I) wrong to be angry?

    2. Having terrosist-supporting groups who deny the existence of the Triune God, which includes the Holy Spirit is not a sign of the Holy Spirit at work. The Holy Sprit does not approve of those that deny it’s very existence. Do you comprehend the logical fallacy of your argument, or do I need to be clearer?

    3. No one here is saying we shouldn’t build healthy relationships across faith traditions. There are ways do that, as I said, if you had bothered to read or comprehend my post. This is not one of those.

    4. As far as your statement about Christian identity, yes, I would like to work towards a nation that has a Christian identity. Not a theocracy, mind you. I beleive there was something in the Great Commission about making Disciples of all nations. I’m pretty sure Jesus wasn’t talking about . I have not doubt that when the jihadists come, you will be the first to surrender your collar.

    Have a nice day…..

    1. The Rev. Daniel Prechtel says:

      246 groups were listed by Federal prosecutors in 2007 as unindicted co-conspiritors in the Holy Land Foundation case. I don’t believe that either group Mr. Basta is labeling as “terrorist-supporting” has ever been charged with a crime and in 2010 a federal appeals court sealed the list, finding that the ruling violated the groups’ rights and was the result of “simply an untested allegation of the Government, made in anticipation of a possible evidentiary dispute that never came to pass.” We need to be careful about asserting guilt by association–a previous era in the United States did that out of fear to the harm of many people.
      I do find it humorous that Mr. Basta presumes to know me so well as to be certain how I will respond “when the jihadists come.”

  13. Zachary Brooks says:

    I am sure these Muslims are nice enough people, and shame on the bigotry and fear mongering in these comments. But I am baffled why the National Cathedral thinks hospitality necessitates opening our churches to non-Christian rites, and I am greatly saddened at yet another example of our leadership co-opting the Christian faith for the sake of the cult of niceness.

    1. Kevin Miller says:

      I agree with Zachary. It’s inappropriate to use a place of worship consecrated for Christian worship for worship of any other faith.

      1. Father Mike Waverly-Shank says:

        The first Episcopal Church I served was very proud and rightly so of an Ecumenical offer they had made a year before. A neighborhood synagogue had burned down. THey offered the Church as an emergency place to worship for the Jewish Congregation. Were they wrong to do this?

  14. Dannyy L Anderson says:

    Well If it is a house of prayer for all people we need to put a star of David and a crescent moon on ether side of the cross that’s on top of the cathedral. Since we will be letting non Christians use the space. Its just a space now since its being defiled. I don’t care what you people call me bigot what ever I am a Christian and worship in a Christian church. Thank God that would never happen in any parish in my town.

  15. I am horrified! I wonder if they would consider letting ACNA use the space, or Baptists? Being hospitable and respectful does not mean allowing groups that disregard human rights and explicitly deny tenets of our faith to use space consecrated for the worship of the Holy Trinity. What is next Wiccans? Lord have mercy!

  16. Rich Basta says:

    Regarding Rev. Prechtel’s latest post, I respctfully offer an additional perspective from Andrew C. McCarthy, a formal federal prosecutor with specific knowledge of the ruling to which you were referring. He admits that you were correct, but only partially. This probably won’t change your mind, but who knows?

    “At a trial, a coconspirator is not entitled to be kept anonymous. The jury and the public get to learn the unabridged basis for the government’s accusations. Thus, at the Holy Land Foundation trial, abundant evidence was introduced — much of it in the form of internal documents seized from Muslim Brotherhood officials — proving that the Brotherhood sees its mission in the United States as a “grand jihad”[1] to destroy the West from within by “sabotage.” The Brotherhood formed a Palestine Committee whose mandate was to support Hamas. Palestine Committee members included HLF and, later, the Brotherhood’s new creation, CAIR. Meantime, Brotherhood documents named ISNA and the NAIT as partners in its “grand jihad.” In fact, HLF was housed for a time at ISNA’s Indiana offices, and checks were often routed to Hamas through a joint ISNA/NAIT bank account.

    That was what the prosecution’s evidence showed. You can hide the coconspirator list, but the evidence doesn’t go away. That’s why there are diminishing returns for the Islamist groups in grousing about the list. That only calls attention to the fact that the Justice Department cited them in the first place and then, critically, backed it up with evidence.

    In that light, the Fifth Circuit’s ruling is mostly a non-event. The court merely pointed out the government’s admission that it was wrong to file the coconspirator list publicly — although, interestingly, the judges did not seem as convinced as the Justice Department that this faux pas rises to the level of a constitutional due-process violation. More significantly, though, the Fifth Circuit declined to expunge names from the list or the trial proof. All it agreed to do was unseal a lower court ruling. That, however, is a double-edged sword for the Brotherhood satellites: Yes, the ruling says their Fifth Amendment rights were violated — a fact they obviously see as a PR coup — but it also reportedly describes the proof of their ties to the Brotherhood. (The lower-court ruling has not yet been unsealed but the Fifth Circuit decision clues us in on what it says.)

    CAIR, ISNA, and NAIT do not have a branding problem. They have a substance problem. They may be able to falsely frame people as “Islamophobes.” It’s tough to frame facts.”

  17. Bob Thwing says:

    I am embarrassed to be an Episcopalian when we seem to have abandoned all our values. Apparently the goal is to drive people away from the Episcopal Faith. I guess the Cathedral can be opened up for anybody for anything. I have received many emails from people around the country asking me what is going on with the Episcopal Church? I am very disappointed.

  18. Frank Christian says:

    I do not hate Muslims, but I love God.

    EPH 1:22-23 “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all”.

    Mark 12:29-31 “Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

    I love God. Loving my neighbor is ‘like’ the first, but NOT the first. I (try to) love my neighbor as myself, and I (try to) love God before myself. God(first), Me(after), Neighbor(as me).

    John 10:25-30 “Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”

    I have good friends that are Muslim, but I draw the line when it comes to my devotion to Jesus.

  19. John David Spangler says:

    Dear Bob T. and all the nay-sayers, I am proud to be part of the Blessed Company that is the Episcopal Church. A member for all of my 85 years, I am prouder to-day because of Janet McMannis, Lisa Hlass, Daniel Prechtel, Canon Campbell, and the Cathedral. I give thanks fro them and pray that the nay-sayers. Peace!

    1. Rich Basta says:

      Oh, Mr. Spangler and fellow travellers, you are proud to be part of a church that lets Muslim men do prayers in our flagship place of worship while their women are forced to sit in the back? Did you watch the service today? You are down with that? Really? Are you proud of letting in people with unmitigated irrefutable proof representing terror-supporting groups? Really ?Wow. That’s just breathtaking. Read below, and see if you can still poisitively affirm this. If you can, may God have mercy on your souls. I am not a naysayer-, I am a truth teller. If you all have willfull blindness to the truth, so be it. I speak truth to power, why don’t you?

      In fact, it is against Islamic law for Muslims to hold Christianity or Judaism in the same regard the Episcopal Church is now showing Islam. Indeed, Islamic law “abrogates” (cancels) Christianity and Judaism as “previously revealed religions (that) were valid in their own eras,” but are no longer — not after the advent of Islam in the 7th century.

      I am quoting above from “Reliance of the Traveller,” the authoritative Sunni law book, which, in explaining the “finality” of Islam (page 846), asserts that it is “unbelief (kufr) to hold that remnant cults now bearing the names of formerly valid religions, such as ‘Christianity’ or ‘Judaism,’ are acceptable to Allah” post-Mohammed. (“Unbelief,” meanwhile, is an act of Islamic apostasy and punishable by death.) Clearly, no devout Muslim can show “appreciation” for the “prayer tradition” of a “remnant cult.” The sharia textbook is definitive about this point, adding: “This is a matter over which there is no disagreement among Islamic scholars.”

      Not surprisingly, then, Ebrahim Rasool’s prayer-service statement conveys no interfaith reciprocity. Instead, he presses the need to “embrace our humanity and to embrace faith” — not “our faiths” (plural). As usual, Islamic “outreach” is a one-way, non-ecumenical street.

      But how could it be otherwise, according to Islam’s own teachings? Islamic expert Andrew Bostom notes that the Koranic prayers Muslims recite daily and specifically on Fridays “include, prominently, Koran suras (chapters) 1, 87 and 88.” Sura 1, verse 7, he notes, is repeated up to 17 times per day by observant Muslims. It calls on Allah to guide Muslims “to the straight path, to the path of those you have blessed, not those who incurred (Your) wrath, nor of the misguided.” The former group (“wrath”) is Jewish; the latter (“misguided”) is Christian.

      This is not exactly a “prayer tradition” that encourages the “appreciation” Episcopalians undoutbedly expect.

      It gets worse – at least for Christians and Jews. Typically, Friday “Jum’ah” prayers, following Mohammed’s own example, include Suras 87 and 88, Bostom explains. These verses are almost palpably acrid with hell-fire and humiliation for Christians and Jews, according to authoritative Koranic commentaries.

      Most conservatives will look at this cathedral event as a milestone for “Islamism” — as though Muslim Brotherhood-linked organizations and their activities have little intersection with Islam itself.

  20. George McPhee says:

    This all seems very strange to me as a form of ecumenical outreach. A joint Interfaith service would be more appropriate in my opinion, and the Cathedral’s announcement said there have been some such services in the past. To have an Islam-specific service within a Christian space, absent a possible legitimate form of hospitality such as because a mosque’s building had a disaster or something and needed a large space temporarily, seems like an odd way to promote ecumenism or hospitality. The two religions are very different theologically. There is no need for an Islamic worship service (ordinarily) in a Christian space, nor a Christian worship service (ordinarily) in a mosque. The other commenters make some valid points, and it begs the question… when will we have a Buddhist-only service, or Hindu-only, or Jewish-only? And… why have them? This will send waves of confusion around the world, not healing.

  21. Lisa Hall says:

    From a cradle to grave Episcopalian, I say 3 cheers to the WNC for being bold and for providing radical hospitality, just as Jesus would want us to do. Thank you.

  22. Larry James says:

    Jesus called upon us to love and serve everyone as serving Christ. We are to love and forgive all as individuals, Muslims included, but we are not called to support and encourage organizations that are formulated to wipe Christianity from the face of the earth, and replace it with another belief system. Jesus also made whips and turned tables over. Instead of a real knowledge of scripture and history, we are being guided by oatmeal mush, spineless, lukewarm, new age, create God in our image, politically correct hogwash. I have attended the Episcopal church for 40 years. This may be my last year.

  23. Kara Wagner Sherer says:

    Thank you for your clear witness that people of faith from all traditions can pray together. In the best of our traditions honoring or following one way does not negate others.

  24. John David Spangler says:

    Yes, Mr. Basta, I did watch the Jumu’ah service to-day. To my earlier remarks, I simply add three cheers and one cheer more!!!
    I know that I should love my neighbor as myself and that you are my neighbor, and that I should not loose my temper but you make very hard not to do so.

  25. John David Spangler says:

    Kay, I welcome your kind words. You understand the real, deep meaning of our faith. I fear that, because of his fears, Mr. Basta does not. Peace, David

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