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.


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Comments (63)

  1. M. Milner Seifert says:

    I suppose I should not be surprised at the negative comments, though I am disappointed to read them.
    I am very pleased that the Cathedral was taken this bold step and support it in this journey. I join others who voice their support.

  2. Fr. Will McQueen says:

    This is an absolutely disgusting move on the part of the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul. This is an affront to the two saints for whom this building is dedicated and to the Lord they died serving. I simply cannot fathom how any Christian can think this is a good thing. These Muslims are using a consecrated Christian house of worship to offer prayers to a deity other than Almighty God (even though this has been happening for quite a long time now). Please spare me your comments that they are they same God. They are not. Muslims deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, and those who deny him before men, He will deny before the Father. If you have not the Son, you have neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit. Washington National Cathedral, your name is Ichabod! God will not be mocked.

    1. Chris Arnold says:

      Fr. Will, I agree with your perspective on this, especially considering the fact that this cathedral is named for Saints Peter and Paul, who gave their years and their lives for their witness of the one Mediator between God and man, the man Chris Jesus.
      When Yahweh declared that “My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” (Is.56:7) He was not inviting all diversities of faith to worship together, rather He was indicating that all diversities of people would be drawn to Himself…..which is exactly what Jesus indicated would occur through his atoning crucifixion.
      By allowing, and “sanctioning” the worship of God by Muslims within the walls of the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul in Washington, the Episcopal Church is at least tacitly giving affirmation to a religion which denies that Jesus of Nazareth was the very Son of God. As Christians we, including the Episcopal Church, must never compromise that our message to the world, whether by deeds or speech, must declare Jesus, and Him crucified.

  3. Danny Anderson says:

    Guess we can start calling it the National Multipurpose Hall now.

  4. Bill Simon says:

    I’m a very simple person who started attending church (Episcopal) on a regular basis only about 10 years ago and have a very long way to go on my journey. I’m not particularly devoted to the Episcopal church but I do read the Bible on a regular basis for it being the roadmap for that journey. I believe that we are to follow God/Jesus only but not condemn those who don’t but rather show our discipleship by spreading the good news the Bible has to offer. We can’t make people believe what we believe but we have an obligation to offer news of the gift that Christ offers us. We are to believe in Him only. By opening up the cathedral to ‘other’ worship’ sends a horrible message to the world. What if it were the baals or the followers of the ashtoreth , or any of the ancient pagan worship idols? Are we more worried about being seen as tolerant than we are of professing the Gospel and believing it shows the path to salvation? Do we just want to be ‘liked’ by everyone. I believe Jesus that we are more likely to be persecuted for our beliefs than being accepted but must be willing to make that sacrifice. My bottom line on this matter is that I am very disappointed in the leadership of the Episcopal church who apparently condone what happened today.

  5. Chris Arnold says:

    Fr. Will, I agree with your perspective on this, especially considering the fact that this cathedral is named for Saints Peter and Paul, who gave their years and their lives for their witness of the one Mediator between God and man, the man Chris Jesus.
    When Yahweh declared that “My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” (Is.56:7) He was not inviting all diversities of faith to worship together, rather He was indicating that all diversities of people would be drawn to Himself…..which is exactly what Jesus indicated would occur through his atoning crucifixion.
    By allowing, and “sanctioning” the worship of God by Muslims within the walls of the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul in Washington, the Episcopal Church is at least tacitly giving affirmation to a religion which denies that Jesus of Nazareth was the very Son of God. As Christians we, including the Episcopal Church, must never compromise that our message to the world, whether by deeds or speech, must declare Jesus, and Him crucified.

  6. Anne Paine says:

    Thanks to Fr Will and all of you who are standing with the Trinity and on the principles of Christianity .
    Your Roman Catholic Sister in Christ.

    1. Fr. Will McQueen says:

      Thank you Anne. God bless

  7. Julian Malaka says:

    “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

    We should know with due respect that Muslim’s Allah and Judo-Christian God is not the same God of Abraham, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God of Abraham is God of Justice and has no favoritism. But Allah of Prophet Muhammad favors Muslim and hate non-Muslims. Muslim’s holy book Quran speaks for itself:

    1) Qur’an 5:51 says—“O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people”.
    2) In another sura Qur’an 8:12— “Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.”
    3) Quran 9:2 “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah (tax) with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

    Because of these Qur’anic teaching majority Muslims remain silent in Pakistan when innocent Christians are killed by violent mob with conspiracy of blasphemy law and police remain silent to perform Allah’s command. To maintain communal harmony among diversified faiths it does not necessary to give up sanctity of one’s faith, but need enforceable constitution that guarantees freedom of religion or external world pressure to abide by law.

  8. Charles Nutter says:

    Let us pray that Muslim Friday prayers in a truly Christian sanctuary will lead to the conversion of many Muslims to Christ.

  9. Joe Barker says:

    As an Episcoplalian, this action of opening our church to a Muslim prayer service deeply concerns me. Our church has been attempting to be so politically correct that we perhaps are losing sight of our principles. I am all for inter-faith assemblies and especially spreading the word of love, peace and the understanding of the holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, Islam does not recognize this and any prayers offered would be to Alah and not to our God. This should not be allowed in our church as we pray to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – not to Alah. I am quite sure that we would not be welcome to pray in a Mosque or to hold a Holy Eucharist in a Mosque. I would be very interested to know what our Presiding Bishop thinks of this.

  10. Michael Smith says:

    I’m just wondering if or when the politically correct at the Cathedral are going to allow the loud speakers to be installed for call to prayers?

  11. Charles Russell says:

    His is difficult to understand. Our presiding bishop will not allow Episcopalians leaving the denomination to buy Episcopal churches that have voted to leave even though such loss of membership all but assures they will have to close or be sold. Nevertheless the cathedral with her cathedra is open to Muslim prayers on Fridays? As a gay member of the Episcopal church it saddens me that there is such duplicity in charity by our leadership. The Episcopal Church USA’s greatest reason for membership loss is not members like me or our inclusion. Rightfully and sadly but true it is the lack of a Christ centered church. This is a mistake. Will the altar cross be removed and the chairs stacked to facilitate a Muslim worship space? A hall or education building but not the cathedral where Christ Our Lord is honoured and the Dacrament reserved. Less donations from church members but more will come from the sale of closed churches and Muslim attendees. Secular humanists next? Sad.

    1. Doug Desper says:

      Charles- Lest one thinks that this is an isolated event, it isn’t. Theological revisionism is very much alive in the cathedral and the diocese. In her blog on “Resurrection” Bishop Budde herself wrote: “To say that resurrection is essential doesn’t mean that if someone were to discover a tomb with Jesus’ remains in it that the entire enterprise would come crashing down. The truth is that we don’t know what happened to Jesus after his death, anymore than we can know what will happen to us”. This is nearly the heresy of Docetism and serves to do nothing but question the faith once received instead of proclaiming the Good News. We are either a Christ-centered faith (Christ and “him crucified”) or not. I agree with you that it is not optional. For those for whom it is a question or problem I suggest that Bahai is better suited to their path.

  12. Ingrid McCord says:

    I just do not get all the animosity. I have been instructed to Love my Neighbor. If my neighbor is Muslim or Bhuddist or secular I must love them. I live in a town where shared space is common for all worshiping communities. A local mosque hosted a church for Easter when it had burnt down. To me the biggest enemy is the worship of gold and power not all the nit picking and legalization of the rules of worship. I support the National Cathedral in their efforts to expand Christ’s love and hospitality.

    1. Zachary Brooks says:

      “It’s bad to worship gold and power” doesn’t mean “It’s perfectly fine to believe and preach falsehood.”

  13. Perhaps, with all the best intentions and in an act intended to communicate respect for Muslims in America (currently 1% of the population), the Cathedral staff did something that might have been a) prophetic; b) profane; c) stupid on the face of it, or, d) a way of following Paul’s teaching to “love your enemy, thereby, pouring burning coals upon his head.” This should satisfy all parties: it has love and punishment all in a suitably Biblical cloak of authority. Now everyone can be right.

    Or…perhaps the leadership of the Cathedral is trying to instruct both us and Muslims that our Constitution guarantees the State may not promote nor inhibit any religion. If we can first convert Muslims to true pluralism in America, maybe over time the freedom of the Gospel of Christ will also become appealing. If they are in our midst, they are our neighbors. They are God’s children caught up in error. We should at least pray for their conversion more than we pray for their destruction.

    And, perhaps, with a little more humility we might remember the history of Christian Europe which went for centuries condoning war, torture, subjugation of women, and, yes, the lopping off of heads. Of course, head lopping was much preferable to being hanged then drawn and quartered; or maybe disemboweling a la Braveheart is your favorite.

    Whatever we might say in defense of those times, centuries of combat between Christians of all stripes political and religious eventually led to WWII and the Holocaust. Just reading the Bible and calling one’s self Christian does not guarantee anything like superiority over others. It is no guarantee against barbarity. The only thing that can make Christ believable is the love we have for one another. If we would be like Jesus, we would be a servant to all… even though trying might get you crucified by your own ‘Christian brothers and sisters” Right now I’m not feeling the love.

  14. Muhammad Fulani says:

    This is really incredible, but this issue is complicated, their hope is to bring unity among the Abrahamic Religion, bcos all the Abrahamic Religion believe in the Oneness of God, Both Jew, Christian & Islam. Allah Love everyone that is why our Universe still exist. We’re all brothers & Sisters. Imam Ali Said: All Human are Asleep, they wake up when they Die. We’ll all know the truth when we die. May God Guide us to the truth.

    1. Richard McClellan says:

      This is very beautiful. Thanks.

  15. R.E. Jones says:

    Please explain the opinions expressed to me lately that the Cathedreal interior icons of our faith had to be taken down & removed such to accommodate the Muslim worship services.

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