Letters with the Mosque Next Door

Letters with the Mosque Next Door
How a budding friendship between a pastor and an imam brought a community together.
Jim Powell and Kamil Mufti

In the winter of 2007, Jim Powell contacted the leaders of the largest mosque in his community, knowing he would be moving next door to them within the year. After the initial phone conversation, it was agreed that a lunch would be set up between the elders of his church and the elders of the mosque: a lunch that eventually happened in the spring of 2007.

In 2010, when a Florida pastor made national and international news because of his plan to burn the Qur’an, Jim once again contacted the leaders of the mosque, now his church’s next-door neighbors. In his letter to them, he wrote:

“Jesus said that the hallmark of the Christian faith was love, and yet that is often the last virtue many of his followers practice. Furthermore, as Christians, we are called to avoid being judgmental, to work towards living at peace with all people, and that grace, mercy, and forgiveness are to be at the forefront of our lives. Unfortunately, many who profess to follow Jesus forget this, or they choose to ignore such elementary teachings as they allow their personal agendas and sinful nature to trump the Lord’s will.

“There is so much more that I could say. Yet for now, let me assure you that the hate speech which the media reports does not represent a majority of Christians, and it does not represent the mindset of the leadership of Richwoods Christian Church.

“If you would ever like to have dialogue on this topic, I would be more than glad to visit with you or any individuals that may be interested.”

After Jim and Kamil Mufti, the mosque’s imam, taught a class on the Abrahamic faiths together at Bradley University, their friendship evolved. Eventually Kamil invited Jim to teach a four-week class on Christianity at the mosque, and a relationship began to build—not merely between Jim and Kamil, but between their respective congregations. Soon, interactions that had been based on fear gave way to understanding.

In the correspondence below, Kamil and Jim speak candidly to one another about the challenges and benefits of reaching out to those we do not understand.


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