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Muslim Aid spearheaded a new interfaith project this year - the Abraham Initiative.
This project, during the Qurbani period, saw Muslims, Jews and Christians cleaning and doing maintenance work alongside each other in two East London holy places, a synagogue and a church.
For many of the people involved, this was the first time they had the opportunity to meet people from their fellow Abrahamic communities.
“We all have the same root to our religion, we all believe that the Hebrew patriarch Abraham and his descendants held an important role in human spiritual development. We want to celebrate our similarities,” said Muslim Aid business development director Zac Hussain.
Volunteer co-ordinator Zakaria Hussain, who had the idea for the project, agrees, “Over the summer, crime levels among young people rise, we wanted to provide constructive activity and there’s nothing like getting your hands dirty together to bond with other faiths,” he said.
One group of volunteers worked together at East London Central Synagogue in Tower Hamlets, known as Nelson Street Synagogue. They cleaned windows and polished holy places, such as the bimah, which is where the sacred texts are read aloud. Synagogue president Leon Silver eagerly joined the Abraham Initiative. “I see very good relationships between communities in Tower Hamlets, but I also see misconception and hate. The more we get to know each other the better,” he commented.
The other venue was St. John at Bethnal Green Church, where volunteers cleaned pews, the pulpit and staircases. Reverend Alan Green said: “Muslim Aid has already taken such positive steps in interfaith co-operation, this will build on the good relationships that already exist to make them even better.”