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Speaker stresses peace at mosque open house

October 25, 2005|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

erinc@herald-mail.com

Five times each day during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, Dr. Shahab Siddiqui goes to the Islamic Society of Western Maryland in Hagerstown to pray.

Praying at the mosque, he said, is more honorable than praying elsewhere. Some prayers are formal verses; others are more personal.

Ramadan began Oct. 5. The final day is Nov. 4.

During an open house Monday night at the Islamic Society, Muslims and nonMuslims listened to Imam Yahya Hendi of Frederick, Md., recite verses from the Koran and talk about breaking religious borders and working together for peace.

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About 100 people gathered around Hendi in a large prayer room. Men and women entered from separate doors, and most took a seat on the floor crossing their legs. Everyone removed their shoes.

Hendi, who speaks around the world on Islam and Muslim issues, told the crowd about three principles: politics of justice, economics of equity and covenant of community.

He said the world's resources should be distributed in a way that can help everyone in need. Hendi - a Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. - believes that communities should join together to "protect fellow human beings," he said.

Hendi also said war is not the way to solve the world's problems.

"The might of military does not help," he said. "The might of forgiveness does help."

He said the fasting that is part of Ramadan helps. During the fast, Muslims do not eat during the day, and at sunset they eat small meals and talk with friends.

"It's a time to reflect on your relationship with God," Hendi said.

Muslims do not eat, drink or enjoy physical or worldly pleasures during Ramadan - the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.

After Hendi's address, the group moved to an outdoor tent where dinner was waiting.

Mary Wehr of Greencastle, Pa., said Hendi's acknowledgment of all religions and their ability to come together was "excellent."

Wehr is a relief chaplain at Washington County Hospital.

Abdul Waheed of Hagerstown is Muslim, and said he was impressed that Hendi addressed common areas among Christianity, Judaism and his own faith.

Hendi said a new organization that he calls his "dream" will be starting soon: Clergy Beyond Borders.

"All faiths acknowledge the borders that separate their religions have to be honored and respected," he said. "They are able to cross over borders to someone else's territory and then go home without their own (faith) ending."

Clergy Beyond Borders will organize and train clergy to bring peace.

"They are agents for peace on Earth," Hendi said.

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