Rector offers Muslims prayer space

22 March 2013

A SCOTTISH Episcopal parish has offered space in its church hall for prayers by the local Muslim community, to ease overcrowding in their mosque.

The Rector of St John's, Aberdeen, Canon Isaac Poobalan, said: "My job is to encourage people to pray. The mosque was so full at times that there would be people outside in the wind and rain, praying."

The Syed Shah Mustafa Jame Masjid mosque was built in the grounds of St John's, in the 1980s, to accommodate about 60 worshippers, but today that number has more than doubled. Canon Poobalan said: "One day, when I was walking past, I found 20 or 30 people outside on the pavements with their hands and feet exposed. . . I knew I couldn't let this happen, because I would be abandoning what the Bible teaches us about how we should treat our neighbours."

Initially, some parishioners declared that it was not their problem. "But I had seen it with my own eyes, so it was a problem," Canon Poobalan said. "When I spoke to the imam, there was some hesitation on their part, too, because this has never been done before. But they took us up on the offer, and it has been a positive relationship."

Up to 100 Muslims now pray in the church hall five times every Friday.

The Chief Imam, Amed Magghabri, said: "What happens here is special, and there should be no problem repeating this across the country. The relationship is friendly and respectful."

The move was praised by the Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney, Dr Robert Gillies.

He said: "Internationally, the news speaks of tension and struggles between Islam and Christianity. Yet here, in Aberdeen, a mosque and a church have built bonds of affection and friendship."

Coronavirus (Covid-19) update

The latest: Daily news updates

Get the free Church Times email bulletin


> Lift Up Your Hearts: 29 May (PDF download)

> All our recommended resources for prayer, worship, live streaming and more


Record your experience of the pandemic, the ministry that you have given or received, and what you think will happen to churches in a post-pandemic world

> Take the survey

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)