UAE mosque renamed after Mary, mother of Jesus
Abu Dhabi: A mosque in Al Mushrif, a district in the capital Abu Dhabi, has been renamed as ‘Mariam, Umm Eisa’ — Arabic for ‘Mary, the mother of Jesus.’
The change on June 14 was ordered by Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Armed Forces, to “consolidate bonds of humanity between followers of different religions”.
The earlier name of the mosque was the Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Mosque.
Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance, thanked Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed for his “wise directives in carrying out this initiative that set a shining example, and a beautiful image of the tolerance and coexistence enjoyed by the UAE,” according to a statement carried by WAM.
Mohammad Mattar Al Kaabi, chairperson of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, lauded Shaikh Mohammad for this initiative.
He added that since the days of Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE has always been keen on tolerance and peaceful coexistence “that is based on justice and brotherliness among all those living in the UAE”.
Al Kaabi added the renaming of the mosque falls in line with the liberal policies of President Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Shaikh Mohammad as people from more than 200 nations live in the UAE.
Just steps away from the newly-renamed mosque sits St Andrew’s Church, an Anglican parish. “We are delighted that we are celebrating something that we have in common between both our faiths,” the church’s senior chaplain, Reverend Canon Andrew Thompson, told the Gulf News.
Mary, he added, as the mother of Jesus, is of course a holy, special figure in our communities. “She is a woman who symbolizes obedience to God. We look forward to growing in deeper understanding with our neighbors, and we celebrate with them the new name of the mosque.”
Jeramie Rinne, senior pastor of the Evangelical Community Church in Abu Dhabi, hailed Shaikh Mohammad for another “generous gesture of religious tolerance.”
“The UAE continues to set the pace in this region for peaceful coexistence and cooperation. We are very encouraged and feel blessed to be a part of this nation,” he added.
Amid sectarian conflicts and regional chaos, the UAE has been seeking to boost its national values of tolerance of other faiths.
In February last year, the government created the Ministry of Tolerance, appointing Shaikha Lubna as its head.
In June, the UAE Cabinet approved a new National Tolerance Programme based on seven key pillars — Islam, Constitution, Zayed’s legacy and ethics of the UAE, international conventions, archaeology and history, humanity and common values.
This week, a church in Al Ain opened its doors for Maghrib prayers. The event saw church workers lay down carpets on the wooden floor so that more than 200 Asian Muslim workers could perform prayers.
After hearing the news, several senior Emirati officials in Al Ain called up the church to express their appreciation. “It was the first time, at least in the UAE, that a church opened its doors for Muslim prayers,” said Bobin Skariya, a worker at the St George Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Simhasana Cathedral.