Scottish church gives mosque prayer space

March 19, 2013 at 12:08 AM
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ABERDEEN, Scotland, March 19 (UPI) -- An Episcopal church in Scotland is providing prayer space to the overcrowded mosque next door so faithful Muslims will have a place to pray inside.

The Rev. Canon Issac Poobalan, rector of St. John's Church in Aberdeen, said when he first introduced the idea at least one member of his church said the overcrowding was not the congregation's problem, and leaders at the mosque were also reluctant to try something unprecedented, The Scotsman reported Monday.

"Praying is never wrong. My job is to encourage people to pray. The mosque was so full at times, there would be people outside in the wind and rain praying," he said. "I knew I couldn't just let this happen - because I would be abandoning what the Bible teaches us about how we should treat our neighbors."

The experiment appears to have worked. The Rt. Rev. Robert Gillies, bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney of the Scottish Episcopal Church, said the congregations have accomplished "something of global significance on a local scale."

There are now plans to build a cafe and recreation area to serve both mosque and church in the space between the buildings, the bishop said.

"What happens here is special and there should be no problem repeating this across the country. The relationship is friendly and respectful," Amed Magghabri, the mosque's chief imam, said.

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