Sunday, March 16, 2008

First Church Opens in Qatar

First Christian Church Opens in Qatar
AP foreign, Sunday March 16 2008

World Muslim Congress welcomes the opening of Qatar's first Christian Church. There is a spritual need in every soul, and its' fulfilment is essential for human beings. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him has offered Christians of Najran to pray in his mosque when the time for prayer came - Mike Ghouse

DOHA, Qatar (AP) - Thousands of worshippers gathered Saturday for the consecration of Qatar's first Christian church, ending decades of underground worship in this Sunni Muslim and deeply conservative Persian Gulf nation.

Cardinal Ivan Dias presented the new Roman Catholic parish of Our Lady of the Rosary with a chalice offered by Pope Benedict XVI. Many congregants wept when a relic of Saint Padre Pio da Pietrelcina was dedicated in the five-hour Mass.

Three dozen bishops and priests gathered to celebrate the mass, which was conducted in English with prayers in the Tagalog language from the Philippines, Hindi, Arabic and other languages.

``It is a wonderful day for us, we have been waiting for many, many years to have a proper place of worship,'' said Indian resident Robert Rodriguez, one of the estimated 10,000 people who gathered for the ceremony.

Only 3,000 worshippers could fit inside the packed dome building, leaving thousands more to gather outside the doors.

Nearby, five more churches are under construction for other Christian denominations in this oil-rich state, where over 70 percent of the population are expatriate workers.
The 2,700-seat church was built on land donated by Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani. Out of respect for local sensitivities, the exterior does not feature any religious symbols that identify the building as a place of Christian worship.

Qatar follows the rigorous Wahhabi teachings of Sunni Islam, and like neighboring Saudi Arabia had not previously authorized Christians to practice their faith openly. A Catholic priest had operated in Qatar without official approval since the 1960s.

The consecration and construction appear to be signs of Qatar's efforts to open up to the West as it seeks a bid for the Olympic Games in 2016.

``It is a dream coming true,'' said Bishop Bernardo Gremoli, a former vicar of Arabia who initiated the church project more than 20 years ago.

Some 150,000 Christians of all denominations live in the emirate. About 90 percent of them are Catholic expatriate workers from the Philippines, India and other Asian nations.
``This is a historic day for the Christian community,'' said Filipino Imelda Ilotin. ``It signifies that people can live together in peace and diversity if they are guided by illuminated rulers,'' she said.

Gremoli, who carried the relic of Padre Pio to Qatar, said it was the first ever holy relic to be sent from Rome to a church of the Arabian Peninsula.

Padre Pio, a mystic Capuchin monk who had an enormous following in Italy and abroad, died in 1968 after living for decades with inexplicable, bleeding wounds on his hands and feet, like the wounds Jesus suffered at crucifixion. Pope John Paul II made him a saint in 2002.

Qatar's most ambitious move to open up to the world has come through sports. It held the 2006 Asian games and hopes to win the 2016 summer Olympics. A short list of candidate cities for the 2016 Olympics will be announced next June.

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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.