“We Have Different Faith Traditions. But at the Same Time, We Know that We Can Get Along”

During Ramadan 2011, the Muslims of Cordova, Tennessee, did not have an Islamic center to go to because it was still under construction. Fortunately, Pastor Steve Stone put up an unusual sign outside Heartsong Church. He said about the sign, “It said, ‘Welcome to the neighborhood, Memphis Islamic Center.’ It’s been seen all over the world, now.” Pastor Stone invited the Muslim community inside the church building to celebrate their holiday. Danish Siddiqui, a board member of the Memphis Islamic Center, said, “Obviously we were taken aback, but in a very positive way. Muslims, we tend to think of ourselves as good neighbors, but Steve beat us to the punch and put up that sign—and all we had to do was knock on the door and introduce ourselves.” He added, “We were looking at some close-by halls and rental spaces, and none of them were available.” The Muslims asked to use a small space inside the church, but Pastor Stone said, “No. You’re going to pray in our main worship space.” Pastor Stone did receive criticism from members of the church, 20 of whom left, out of a congregation of 550. Pastor Stone said, “We had tried to work with them and think their way through it, but at the end of the day, if they really believed what they said they believed, we’re kind of glad they left, because we didn’t want them going out into the community and saying, ‘We have these hateful feelings and we go to Heartsong Church.’” Mr. Siddiqui said, “We have different faith traditions. But at the same time, we know that we can get along, we know that we can work together. And we have respect for one another, because we are people of faith.”

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