Muslims and Christians in Michigan recently came together to show that not only can different belief systems coexist in the same community, but they can even coexist under the same roof.
The Islamic Center of East Lansing offered the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing use of its space free of charge while their new building underwent construction. The congregation had previously met in a Jewish fraternity before buying its own space.
Imam Sohail Chaudhry told The Huffington Post that the decision to welcome the church into its space was simple: "This has been the Muslim tradition for over 1,400 years — to be hospitable, to take care of your guest."
The mosque holds main prayers on Fridays, and the church was welcome to use the space for Sunday worship until they were able to move into their new building earlier this month.
Although many members of the congregation had never been in a mosque before, they approached the opportunity with respect and enthusiasm. Chaudhry told Rev. Kathryn Bert that it wasn't necessary for the Unitarian women to cover their heads during service, but many of them still chose to wear scarves out of politeness.
Bert told The Huffington Post that some members of the congregation had been "sympathetic" to the proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S., but those thoughts were challenged by the connections they formed during the experience: "Getting comfortable with difference involves building relationships with people."
Chaudhry hopes this cooperation will continue in the future, saying, "We are members of this community. We are members of this country. We need to do our part to make this country great."
In a time when some would rather choose hate and division over acceptance and understanding, it's heartening to hear about such a meaningful gesture of unity.