Religion Student Visit Mosque, Plan Interfaith Dialogue
On Sept. 4, students from Prof. Mary Jane Maxwell’s Islamic World and World Religions classes visited the Al-Fatemah Islamic Center in Albany to learn about Islam from the local Muslim community.
The group observed an inspirational prayer service followed by an Indian meal of lamb, chickpeas, and rice as the Al-Fatemah congregation broke their day long Ramadan fast. Following the banquet, the mosque provided GMC students with an educational program on “What is Islam and What do Muslims Believe?” The students asked the Imam about Islamic faith and culture, and the entire congregation answered questions.
Students later remarked that they were most impressed by the mosque’s openness, warmth, generosity, hospitality, and especially their overall message of peace. The experience offered students a new perspective on the day-to-day lives of Muslims and their beliefs as the evening’s dialogue accentuated tolerance, mutual understanding, and respect among Muslims and non-Muslims – values not always depicted in the media.
This is the second year that GMC students have traveled to Al-Fatemah and the newfound friendship has resulted in an exchange of speakers between the Albany Muslim community and GMC. Last year several speakers from Al-Fatemah mosque visited GMC classrooms, and this year, the Muslim Student Association of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. is making arrangements with GMC’s Intercultural Center for an event in October.
On September 11 the World Religions class traveled to the Rutland Jewish Center to observe Friday night prayers, and in October the students will again travel to Albany to witness a puja (Hindu ritual) to the goddess Lakshmi at the Albany Hindu Temple. On October 29 at 1 p.m., the class will host an interfaith dialogue among the three Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Rabbi Doug Weber (Rutland Jewish Center), Imam Jafaar Sabkhouie (Masjid Al-Hidaya in Troy, N.Y.), and Father William Davidson (St. Paul’s Episcopal in Wells) will discuss the common ideal of “hospitality” in their faiths. The dialogue is open to the public.