“Islam is the perfect religion for Muslims. Christianity is the perfect religion for Christians. Judaism is the perfect religion for Jews,” said Rabbi Jim Mirel at “Two Faiths, One God,” an event that brought Jews and Muslims to the synagogue to pray and break the fasts of Tisha B’Av and Ramadan together.
The July 29 event joined members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and Temple B’nai Torah. Mirel, of TBT, and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s leader, Anwar Mahmood Khan, spoke about the unity of the two religions.
“Brothers and sisters,” Mirel began, “we both praise, honor and try to follow the best we can — God. Sometimes we have the Arabic word for God, Allah. Sometimes we have the Hebrew word, Elohim. And other times we have the English word, God. But, one God.”
He continued, “It’s wonderful learning about the wonderful tradition of Islam, which, as you know, is our sister religion.”
“This is a great gathering,” Khan said when he addressed the audience. “It teaches that people from different faiths might have different ideologies, but they believe in one God. We all adhere to please our Creator, to ask for forgiveness from Him, to thank Him and request of Him that He continuously guide us in the best way He can so that we can bring forth world peace.”
Along with the addresses, the evening alternated between Jewish and Muslim prayers. Mirel and Khan told the congregants to participate only if they felt comfortable. A Torah and Quran exhibit was set up in the social hall for people to observe after the services and before and during the break-fast meal.
Approximately 200 people joined the event, with about 60 percent from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and the rest Jews, mostly members of TBT, as well as some Christians.
Both Jewish and Muslim attendees seemed happy that this event was taking place.
“I was always impressed with how the Islamic faith embraced the Jewish prophets and Christian prophets and respected the Torah and Gospels in a manner that is beautiful,” said Phil Gerson, interfaith dialogue coordinator at TBT. “It sets the stage for realizing we’re all connected.”
“I often read the Quran for the congregation and at home,” said 16-year-old Awais Ahmae, who sang Quran versus during the service. “I feel blessed I’m able to do that. I’m happy I’ve been blessed by God.”
The event was planned several months ago when Khan reached out to Mirel, suggesting the two organizations create an interfaith experience. Mirel proposed it should be on Tisha B’Av, which this year coincided with Ramadan, when both groups fast.
“Our celebration reminds us that the tradition — whether Jewish, Christian or Islam — the most important thing is to be faithful and follow God or Allah,” Mirel said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is not considered to be mainstream Islam. The Ahmadiyya movement was founded in 1889 in India by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who claimed he was the messiah. Following his death, the group split into
the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and the smaller Lehore Ahmadiyya movement. The community has 65 chapters in the U.S.; the Seattle-region mosque is in Lynnwood.
The Ahmadiyya community’s hallmarks are interfaith dialogue and community outreach. The Ahmadiyyas also emphasize helping the homeless, volunteer work and packaging food for needy families.
“I thought this was a neat idea to bring together groups that often don’t get along,” said Rebecca Leavitt, a participant from TBT.
Moreover, Leavitt said she wasn’t surprised by this event’s subject matter. “This is a really open community and this is in line with everything we believe.
“I learned a lot about Islam I didn’t know,” she said. “We have a greater understanding that we are all here for the same reason.”