Episcopal News Service – Boston] Ayman Bassyouni arrives early at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul around noon each Friday to lay 15 rows of silk prayer rugs end to end on the sanctuary’s floor.
An Egyptian, Bassyouni regularly attends jumah, or Friday prayers, at the Episcopal cathedral. He is one of a few hundred men and a handful of women – mostly immigrants from North Africa, South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and the Balkans – who pray there together.
In Islam, Friday is considered the sacred day of worship; ordinarily, Muslims pray five times a day, but on Friday, males are obliged to pray in congregation at midday.
The cathedral’s longstanding welcome of the Muslim community is one way it lives into its mission to be “a house of prayer for all people.” In the United States, where religious literacy is in decline but religion plays an increasing role in the cultural narrative, interfaith relationships build tolerance.
Beginning on Sunday, in a partnership with Boston’s Jewish and Muslim communities, St. Paul’s will host “ABRAHAM: Out of One, Many.” Presented by CARAVAN, the Oct. 27-Dec. 6 exhibit explores the concept of living harmoniously through artists’ paintings interpreting Abraham’s life and faith journey.
“Many people struggle to really understand their own tradition, let alone other people’s tradition; and my experience has been that when you’re in conversation with people of a different tradition, it causes you to learn more about your own tradition too,” said the Very Rev. Amy McCreath, dean of the cathedral, about the exhibit in a parish newsletter. “It feels to me really, really important right now that we understand our tradition and how it’s connected both to Judaism and Islam, and that we counter that sectarianism and that violence, both intellectually by knowing the history, [as well as through] building relationships with real people in real time