In May, Waterloo (Ont.) Christian Reformed Church hosted 60 people—from high schoolers to seniors—who were interested in understanding more about their Muslim neighbors.
After an orientation at the church, the group traveled to Waterloo Mosque, where the Imam, Sheikh Abdul-Mannan Syed Nadwi, led them on a tour of the mosque. The group had the opportunity to observe prayer time while sitting quietly at the back of the mosque.
“A favorite moment for some occurred when the prayers were over and some of the men who were praying came back to greet us and thank us for visiting their mosque,” said Wayne Miedema, one of the event organizers. “One of [them] expressed his appreciation that we were learning about Islam from followers of Islam, not just from the news.”
Back at the church, participants shared a Halal snack from a Lebanese caterer before sitting down for two presentations. Greg Sinclair of the Christian Reformed Church’s Salaam 2.0 initiative discussed a Reformed understanding of interfaith dialogue. He stressed that interfaith dialogue is not about compromising the gospel but about promoting peace, order, and respect.
Omar Ramahi, a local university professor who is Muslim, introduced Islam and answered questions from the audience. One member of the group appreciated “clarifications on the misconceptions,” while another said it was “good to put a real human voice and face to what we knew.”
Sinclair and other organizers said the event was planned “to help Christians better understand and appreciate their Muslim neighbors so as to build peace and cooperation for the common good.”
Many of the participants hope for a next step, such as further dialogue, similar events for new groups, and cooperation on a shared service project.