This display of religious harmony has gained much praise online in recent days.
A church in Germany's capital, Berlin, extended a heartwarming gesture of solidarity to Muslim worshipers during the month of Ramadan. When social distancing guidelines made it difficult for a nearby mosque to find space for all worshipers, the church offered to host them for their Friday prayers. This amazing exchange of religious harmony, which according to BBC, occurred between the Martha Lutheran church in Kreuzberg and Dar Assalam mosque in the city's Neukölln district, has gained much praise online in recent days.
The church offered to help after Germany permitted religious services to resume on May 4 under the condition that worshipers maintain a distance of 5 feet from each other. Since the Dar Assalam mosque—which typically hosts 1,000 people—could only hold a fraction of its congregation under these parameters, worshipers were grateful to have access to the extra space. Mohamed Taha Sabry, the mosque's imam, praised the church for its show of solidarity in their time of need, reports Al Jazeera. "These associations happen because of solidarity. The church saw how Muslims were suffering and asked us: 'Do you need space to pray?' That is an amazing sign of solidarity in these times," he said.
"This pandemic has made us a community. Crises bring people get together," added Taha Sabry, who led his congregation in prayer in the church, watched over by a stained-glass window depicting the Virgin Mary. Speaking to Newsweek, mosque spokesperson Juanita Villamor said, "It is a great sign of solidarity. We are just thankful, this is a good chance of inter-religious dialog and it is wonderful that the church is doing this." According to the publication, the church hosted two services of Friday prayers—one in German and one in Arabic—during which worshipers wore protective masks and practiced social distancing from each other.
"For us, it is really helpful because we have now one preacher at the mosque and one preacher at the church on Friday so a lot more people can be reached. If we didn't have the church then a lot of people couldn't go to Friday prayers. This is really nice of them," added Villamor. "Interreligious dialog is very good in Neukölln, we have very good connections." Samer Hamdoun, one of the Muslim worshippers, admitted that it took a while to get used to the church environment. "It was a strange feeling because of the musical instruments, the pictures. But when you look, when you forget the small details, this is the House of God in the end," said Hamdoun.
A church in Germany has helped a nearby mosque comply with physical distancing guidelines by hosting Friday prayers. Amazing sign of solidarity! Muslims also should give their mosques to non-Muslims for performing puja and prarthana. pic.twitter.com/p1fWGY2hAH— taslima nasreen (@taslimanasreen) May 23, 2020
Explaining why they chose to open their doors to Muslim worshipers, the church's pastor, Monika Matthias, said, "We see Ramadan as a very valuable thing, we think that prayer and opening ourselves to each other and to God, helps to reinforce humanity and peace." She also revealed that she herself took part in the service. "I gave a speech in German. And during prayer, I could only say yes, yes, yes, because we have the same concerns and we want to learn from you. And it is beautiful to feel that way about each other," she said.
Amid #COVID2019, Muslims in Berlin were offered to pray in a church and Imam Taha Sabri, a great Tunisian-German soul, led the prayer. #Germany is such a European country whose people will never disappoint you. Congratulations @dwnews for bringing this beautiful news. pic.twitter.com/iFBk6H83pK— Omair Anas (@omairanas) May 21, 2020
The pastor said the partnership was a community decision "to do the best in times of coronavirus. This has brought us closer. Whether this partnership will go on and how it will go on, that is still open, but I think getting to know each other and what we have experienced together in this time is strengthening for whatever may lie ahead."