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Islam lays great emphasis on protecting houses of worship belonging to people of all faiths.

I was deeply saddened to hear the tragic news of shootings in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 5. Loss of innocent lives is always tragic news beyond any measure. It was further heartbreaking to learn that 26 innocent souls who were brutally killed had gathered to pray at a house of worship. My thoughts and prayers are with families and friends of the victims. The fact that people are not safe while praying at a house of worship is extremely unfortunate.

Islam lays great emphasis on protecting houses of worship belonging to people of all faiths. In 628 AD, a delegation from St. Catherine’s Monastery visited Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). The Prophet gave them a letter which is called the “Charter of Privileges.” It stated:

“This is a message from Muhammad, son of Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them….
No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses…..
Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation of (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).”

Thus, for me as a Muslim, each and every house of worship is highly sacred. Muslims are required to make every possible effort to protect all houses of worship and those who pray in there. It is based on the teachings of the holy Qur’an wherein protection of cloisters, churches and synagogues is mentioned prior to mosques. The Qur’an states:

“…And if God did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of God is oft commemorated” (22:41).

I hope and pray that our cities and our places of worship will always be filled with peace and not fear.

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