It appeared like an unusual sight as Muslims were seen entering into a red-brick neo-renaissance church building in Berlin, Germany. They were seen filing into the church, wearing face masks and maintaining social distance in adherence to one of the guidelines of avoiding the coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic has affected millions and killed thousands globally as it negatively impacted on critical sectors of world economies.
One of the ways the pandemic has united people is the case in Germany as some pastors allowed Muslims to use their churches for Ramadan prayers. On May 4, worship centres in Germany were allowed to open but with strict adherence to the 1.5 metres social distancing rules and also wearing of face masks.
Due to the guideline, some mosques including the one in Dar Assalam in the city’s Neukölln district were among those which couldn’t accommodate worshippers for the Ramadan prayers until help came from Martha Lutheran church in Kreuzberg which allowed them to use their worship centre for prayers.
The Ramadan is a yearly fast observed by Muslims and it is often a sacred time when throughout the month-long fast, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from dawn to dusk. Normally families and friends would gather to break their fast and attend communal prayers. This year’s celebrations have been affected by the pandemic and everyone has adjusted to the ‘New Normal.’
The Muslim community was grateful to the Christians for allowing them to have access to the Ramadan prayers at once and relieving them of the stress of holding prayers in batches of 50 people which the mosque can accommodate at once based on the guidelines.
“It is a great sign and it brings joy in Ramadan and joy amid this crisis,” the mosque’s imam told Reuters. “This pandemic has made us a community. Crises bring people together.”
He further said, “These associations happen because of solidarity. The church saw how Muslims were suffering and asked us: ‘Do you need space to pray?’ That is an amazing sign of solidarity in these times.’’
The church’s pastor, Monika Matthias, said the partnership was a community decision “to do the best in terms of coronavirus.”
“This has brought us closer. Whether this partnership will go on and how it will go on, that is still open, but I think getting to know each other and what we have experienced together in this time is strengthening for whatever may lie ahead,” she added.
In 2008, an imam in Plateau State saved 300 hundred Christians by hiding them in his mosques from gunmen.
The imam later told the BBC Africa that he wanted to help because more than 40 years ago, the Christians in the area allowed the Muslims to build the mosque. “They had freely given over the land to the Muslim community, he said.
Testifying to the good deeds of the imam and the Muslims in the community, a local chief in the community said, “Ever since they took us into the mosque, not once did they ask us to leave, not even for them to pray. They provided dinner and lunch for us and we are grateful.”