Islam and Judaism: How a Mosque Became Home to a Synagogue | Freethink Crossing the Divide

Posted By on December 21, 2019


My journey to a peaceful world begins in the morning
of September 11, 2001. [Reporter] A plane has
crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. Immediately there was attachment of the Muslim world, my religion,
to the most heinous crime in the history of New York City. No hell no, this is not who we are. This is not our religion. This is not what I believe. So from that moment on,
I knew that our mission of promoting peaceful
coexistence has begun. Since September 11th, 2011
Islam has been at the center of many of our most contentious political debates. Immigration, religious
freedom, foreign policy. People across the political
spectrum are angry, confused, and frustrated. This is the story of one man’s efforts to have a more productive
conversation about Islam. And it starts in New York. New York is a place
where every language, every color and creed, every religion, they co-mingle peacefully. Sheikh Moussa Drammeh is
a Muslim immigrant from Gambia. After I arrived
in New York I said, this is where I belong. Eventually he met his wife Sharina, they had some kids, and decided to start an Islamic Mosque,
school and cultural center. They found a building,
it’s not your typical place of worship, but it worked for them. So after a few months of preparation they were ready to start
their Islamic school. The date, September 11th, 2001. We were excited, we had about 13 students, and eight o’clock the school opened. [Reporter] We understand
that a plane has crashed… The events of that morning
threw New York City into chaos. People were calling Moussa, and telling him to close his school. Then he made a fateful decision. The school will not close because if this is happening, and
immediately they are attaching it to our religion then we
have moral obligation to be open and let people
talk to us about who we are, what we believe, what is the
difference between us and these Muslim extremists. After September 11th,
Moussa had a lot of different feelings. You know you can’t describe it, the feeling of embarrassment, the feeling of hurt and
pain and disappointment. It led to seven months of introspection. He reconsidered his faith. The conclusion was in order for us to live like real Muslims, then we
have to respect the life, and from there I realized
that the best thing that we can do as Muslims
is to create environments where there is a peaceful co-existence. And one day he got a real opportunity to demonstrate that. I’m only gonna answer what
you want because I could go on for four days. So this is Leon Blackman,
do not ask about the black eye, he didn’t
want to talk about it. I told you over the phone,
that’s between you and me. You guys should see the other guy. I knew Musa for years
because I had a few Muslims that I was friends with. At that time Leon was the treasurer for his Jewish Synagogue in the Bronx. That’s right. And Leon had a problem. After years of declining membership, this mostly elderly congregation
was forced to abandon their worship space and
couldn’t even afford the small store front they were leasing. We had no place to do anything. Leon didn’t tell Moussa, who learned through a
mutual friend of theirs Pat. When the request came from Patricia to help say call it my Jewish folks. Immediately I said yes let them come. Having the Muslims and Jewish
co-existing at a Mosque was an opportunity too
good for us not to enjoy. So almost every Friday, a group of Jewish congregants
and an Islamic congregation pray under the same roof. But when this first started, some people in Moussa’s congregation weren’t too pumped about that. Well the Muslim community,
majority of them thought we were the craziest, anti-Islamic people that God ever created. Having a synagogue in
a mosque was something that they could not tolerate. One day, they created
an organized boycott. He argued to his congregation that there was nothing in the Quran that prevented the practice. It was about principle for
Musa, he was pretty adamant. We were not budging,
we did not second guess, we had no doubt, and we
were not compromising. The boycott organizers never came back, but the people that they
convinced all came back plus they came with almost the
same degree of understanding that guess what, there is nothing wrong, as a matter of fact it is
Islamic for us to be hospitable to these Jewish folks and others. All of this meant a heck of a lot to people like Leon. To be honest with you,
he’s like an angel in heaven. That’s my honest to
goodness opinion of him. He’s like an angel in heaven. Moussa’s Islamic
cultural center was one of the last places that Leon
Blackman ever worshiped. He passed away on February 11th, 2017. Hosting Leon and this Jewish congregation is just one of the things Moussa’s doing. He co-hosts interfaith events for kids at the museum of Jewish heritage, and events like this one where scholars lecture
on religious tolerance. As human beings, what
brings us all together is our humanity first. Moussa knows hosting the
Jewish congregation is a small gesture, but a meaningful one. We are making sure that the majority of these older Jewish folks
will not live their last days on this earth yearning for
the days where they live next to family and friends. We are now taking care of
them, we are taking care of their needs. He hopes that this is just a small part of a broader counter
narrative about Islam. The motto of the Bronx is,
we refuse to yield to evil, and this is a message we
want the world to know that Muslims, and Jews, and Catholics, and Buddhism you name it. We’re all human beings, and
we all live symbiotically. We’re a single family now
taking care of each other.

Posted by Lewis Heart

This article has 34 comments

  1. Not sure quranic it is, but if it works for them, it certainly works for me. That was a good story, and i wish there were more like it. Keep up the good work Freethink. Your content and production value will definitely help your channel take off soon!

    Reply
  2. As a practicing Muslim, thank you Sheikh Musa for everything you stood for and shown in this video. Prophet Mumamd is proud because history documents that he invited and treated his Jewish neighbors with a lot of love and respect. All people are welcome to visit mosques and express their faith to our same one God. May God bless your work and keep your efforts going in your community!

    This is the real peaceful religion Islam that I know! Thank you!

    Reply
  3. We need to see more examples of this rather than the hate. People learn what to believe by what they see in the media. Thank you for trying to bring balance.

    Reply
  4. Hi Israel, I am a Muslim. I just want to say thanks for killing my Palestinian brothers and sisters and nephews and nieces. Please feel free to claim my hospitality in the name of our common God, but be silent when a rabid evangelist says that i worship a black box in the desert. You are most welcome to ask me to risk my life and my home to provide cover when you get hunted by Nazis and then evict my children from the same home because your Bible is your legal proof that the house belongs to you.

    Reply
  5. An Ayat comes into mind: Wamay Yu Ti Ir Rasool Faqad Atta Allah: Certainly whoever obeys the Prophet PBUH certainly believes in Allah SWT.. You are in my eyes Jannati! Thankyou for sharing this.

    Salim Chandia Ashrafi

    Reply
  6. yes………..I was a christian and i left the christianity……………………..christianity is the only religion where their God is undercover………….in the whole bible there is not a single verse in new testament where jesus says by himself……….i am your god, creator of the world…worship me………………and even he prayed to some other god……….still people claim he is God……..ha ha ha ha………………….christians are foolish…………….and they gave me the reason god died for you………and i was like…………you are making me criminal by saying god died for me…………..i am happy i left christianity……………………being atheist is reasonable……but being christian is like being foolish………
    can you show me a single verse of your new testament where jesus said I am the god creator of the world….worship me…………….nowhere…………….holyshitttttttttttttttttttttt

    Reply
  7. So, a guy from a broken Islamic country moves to a Western country and the first thing he does is open a school to spread a religion which might have caused him to flee his own country in the first place?? Awesome Muslims, nobody can beat you at being dumb.

    Reply
  8. According to Jewish teachings from the Jewish Great Scholar (Maimonides/Rambam), Jews are allowed to pray in mosques due to Islamic strict monotheism, but they are not allowed to pray in churches due to Trinitarism ideology

    Reply

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