Leaders at the Islamic Center of Fullerton, a growing congregation in Orange County, feared they would go a second year without gathering in person for Eid-al-Fitr prayers that mark the end of Ramadan.

The situation seemed bleak until Faisal Qazi, a member of the mosque, thought to approach clergy at St Philip Benizi Catholic Church, a parish known be involved in interfaith work and helping the unhoused. Qazi had previously helped sponsor a food drive there, so he introduced leaders of the Islamic centre to the church’s pastor, Rev Dennis Kriz.

Mohammad Raghib, the mosque’s president, said they asked Kriz about hosting Eid at the parish’s campus for the estimated 500 or so expected to show up. The pastor was on board, running it by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange. Soon after, Raghib’s congregation was cleared to gather outdoors at the church.

To local Islamic leaders, this marks a historic Eid, as they’ll be able to pray with each other amid a pandemic and “in the vicinity of our Christian brothers and sisters,” said Imam Qaisar Waheed Shabir. For Catholic clergy, this partnership is “in the spirit of interfaith cooperation,” Kriz said.

Shabir said it’s “an honour and a privilege” to host prayers at a Christian church, especially at a time when “Muslims have been very badly maligned”.

As an imam, it isn’t lost on Shabir that he represents a Vietnamese Cham Muslim community that established the Islamic Center of Fullerton decades ago. It means that much more that the mosque will be coexisting with the Catholic Church amid a rise of incidents against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in the wake of COVID-19.

The pastor said he has encouraged his parishioners to attend. 

During Ramadan, members of the Islamic Center of Fullerton have broken fast in the parking lot of the office space where they congregate, which Raghib said “is good enough for us.” But he is excited about hosting Eid at the church because he said it’s also an opportunity to share food with the parish community and “learn about each other and mingle.”

Full story at Sight Magazine.