Nova Scotia

Interfaith service connects Nova Scotia church, mosque

Bedford United Church and the Al-Rasoul Islamic Society have been neighbours for years and on Sunday they celebrated the end of Ramadan together with a unity service.

Bedford United Church, Al-Rasoul Islamic Society celebrated together Sunday

Children were invited to the front of the church for part of the celebration. (Stephanie Blanchet/Radio-Canada)

A Nova Scotia church and mosque held an interfaith service to mark the end of Ramadan on Sunday.

Bedford United Church and the Al-Rasoul Islamic Society Mosque have been neighbours for years, but the event marked the first time they held a formal celebration together.

Members of the Bedford United Church and Al-Rasoul Islamic Society formed a human chain between both buildings. (Stephanie Blanchet/Radio-Canada)

Imam Mohammed Al-Qazwin said the celebration was a "historic day" for him.

He said the service, which was held at the church, was full of warmth and compassion.

Mohammed Al-Qazwin is the imam of the Al-Rasoul Islamic Society. (Stephanie Blanchet/Radio-Canada)

"It's as if it was my house of worship — my own home. I felt so comfortable there. I really felt the spirit of God with us today as we're forging this friendship, this brotherhood," said Al-Qazwin. 

"God wants us to replicate this all over the world."

Red and white

People were encouraged to wear red and white to the celebration as a nod to Canada's 150th birthday. The ceremony involved everyone forming a human chain between the mosque and the church.

Rev. David Hart said the service was about breaking down barriers and dispelling stereotypes.

The pews were packed at the Bedford United Church. (Stephanie Blanchet/Radio-Canada)

"It's when you don't know people that the things that seem different about them cause you fear," said Hart.

"But once you start having conversations with them and really start to know them as neighbours and then as friends you start to learn there's so much more we share in common."

Breaking down stereotypes

Al-Qazwin said the service sends a strong message "that all the violence in this world, all the terrorism that has been perpetrated in the name of religion has nothing to do with religion."

There are a lot of misconceptions about Islam, Al-Qazwin said. One of the worst, he said, was the idea that Islam is a violent religion and that the Prophet Muhammad waged battles.

Rev. David Hart of Bedford United Church. (Stephanie Blanchet/Radio-Canada)

"Yes, the prophet was in defensive battles, wars were waged against him and he defended himself and his community. But he is the prophet of peace and he brought peace and even his enemies, he pardoned all of them," he said.

Al-Qazwin said the other big misconception is that the religion oppresses women. He said this isn't true as proof by the women taking leadership roles during the service Sunday.

'Very emotional' service

Margaret Ashcroft, a member of Bedford United Church, said she was moved by the service.

"I thought the service was very emotional and very moving and I thought that if we can show the world when we come together what a difference we can make and we're all one, we are all one and I pray to our God and to Allah that all of mankind will soon realize that has to happen," Ashcroft said.

With files from Jerri Southcott and Stephanie Blanchet