By Stan Friedman
MERCER ISLAND, WA (October 2, 2014) — Nearly 30 residents of Covenant Shores Retirement Community developed a deeper understanding of Islam when they visited a local mosque, where they observed the congregation at prayer and had a discussion time with the imam.
“Persons here who are interested in diversity and inclusivity wanted to learn,” says Bernice Dye, the Covenant Shores resident who proposed and organized the visit. “I personally desire that Muslims will come to know Christians and that Christians will come to know Muslims. We should all be praying for each other and comparing our Scriptures.”
Dye worked with her husband at a college in Pakistan in 1956 and said her interest in the religion has continued to grow. “Here at Covenant Shores we frequently employ persons who practice Islam. The women wear their headscarves as they work. We need to understand their point of view.”
Residents had met the imam, Jawad Khaki, when he visited the retirement center’s Monday Night Fellowship group as a guest of Covenanter Andy Larsen, who was teaching on Islam. The Covenant Shores Spiritual Life Committee and Diversity Awareness Partners group planned the visit to the mosque.
“Within a few days (of announcing the visit), the two buses (28 spaces) were full and there was a waiting list,” Dye says. “I made phone calls to the imam and told him a larger group than I had first anticipated was interested and that they had questions to present. He said they welcomed a large group.”
The group arrived at the mosque at noon, and the imam taught them about Islam before the main Friday prayer session and sermon. After the service, all of the worshipers had refreshments together.
Dye submitted questions to the imam ahead of the visit. “The imam wanted to share openly, and as he said, help us to learn that Muslims are human,” Dye said.
Khaki knew they would have questions about the relationship between Islam and terrorism so he brought up the subject.
“He emphasized that the persons causing the turmoil should not be called Muslims nor given credit for practicing Islam,” Dye said. “He said they should be call what they are—criminals. The persons we met were honestly worshiping the one God they respect. They plead to be helped to follow the straight path.”
Dye said another visit may be arranged because there was a waiting list of Covenant Shores residents who wanted to make the trip and others wanted to return.
(editor’s note: A previous version of this story wrongly stated that the Covenant Shores residents worshiped at the mosque. They observed.)