Synagogue in Virginia opens doors to Muslims

In the US state of Virginia there is a remarkable relationship between the local religious communities. The Muslim community is growing and mosques are filling up quickly, so Muslims have begun to visit synagogues.

Rizwan Jaka, a devout Muslim and community activist, finds nothing wrong with reciting his prayers in a synagogue.

“Coming here to the synagogue is just as comfortable for me as going to a mosque, and it is something that is very special for me and my family. I will remember this for the rest of our lives,” notes Rizwan.

“About a year ago, we were looking for a place for our Friday prayers, and basically the synagogue was like: If you are looking for a place, why don’t you come over here? And they opened their doors and their hearts to us,” Rizwan Jaka added.

The communities share more than just a physical space.

Sheikh Khalid Iqbal, Deputy Director of ADAMS (All Dulles Area Muslim Society) says, “They come over here, we go over to their location and we have a good time. You can have a dialogue and discuss things and put your point of view. We agree to disagree on some issues and agree to agree on others.”

“Unfortunately the conflict gives the perception that we cannot get along, but actually we can get along. This is our same neighborhood. We work together, we live together, so it is natural,” Rizwan Jaka thinks.

Some still find this particular case extremely unique.

Rabbi Marc Gopin explains that “There are a great many communities who would not do this. They would not do this in part out of fear; they would not do this because of conservative theology. There is a lot of anger against Muslims for a variety of reasons. This synagogue is actually making a very bold statement by actually welcoming them into their sacred space.”

Rizwan Jaka believes one day everything will change: “God willing, at least we hope people can see that we can come together.”