Muslim Friday prayers to be offered at Washington National Cathedral

November 10, 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.