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Saturday, November 29, 2008

US Church Hosts Muslim Worshippers

CAIRO — A church in the north-central US state of Wisconsin is hosting Muslim worshippers to perform prayers twice a day, reported the Journal Sentinel on Saturday, November 29.

"We're very grateful to the church," said local Muslim leader Ajaz Qhavi.

The Faith Presbyterian Church in Franklin city in southern Wisconsin has allowed Muslims to perform prayers five days a week.

Since last week, Muslims have gathered at the Church's Sunday school space to perform the Fajr (Dawn) and `Isha` (night) prayers.

The Islamic Center of Milwaukee pays a nominal rental fee to cover church expenses.

The move was taken as there are no close mosques for Muslims to perform their prayers.

The prayers can be performed anywhere, at home, outside, at the airport, said Isa Sadlon, the Executive Director of the Islamic Center of Milwaukee.

But many Muslims prefer to pray with others, and five daily trips to the mosque can be burdensome, he said.

The prayer sites, Sadlon said, allow them to meet their obligations closer to home or work.

There are 150 Muslim families in Franklin city.

Muslims pray five times a day at the appointed times: Fajr (dawn), Zhuhr (noon), `Asr (mid-afternoon), Maghrib (sunset) and `Isha' (night).

Prayer is one of the most important obligations of Islam, being one of the five pillars of Islam.


Allowing Muslims to pray at the church drew a mixed reaction from church members.

"I think we're doing this, not because of what they believe, but because of what we believe," said Pastor Rev. Deb Bergeson-Graham.

She said the church decision drew an overwhelming support from parishioners, adding that the move is in line with the Christian teachings.

"It's what Christ would have us do."

But the decision was objected by some church members.

"I told him, 'I'm sorry you feel this way, and I hope you continue to worship with us,' " said one older member.

Sadlon, the Islamic Center Executive Director, was not surprised.

"We don't take it personally," said Sadlon, who was raised Catholic but reverted to Islam about 20 years ago.

"Sometimes your worst enemy becomes your best friend. But it takes time."

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