Jacksonville Imam Enrique Rasheed sees no spiritual or political contradictions in praying for and with conservative Christians and Republicans, many of whom are openly distrustful of Muslims these days.

And it’s a good thing, since Rasheed has been invited to participate in a prayer breakfast that kicks off Gov.-elect Rick Scott’s inauguration day on Tuesday in Tallahassee.

“In a lot of ways Muslims are a very conservative group, too,” said Rasheed, spiritual leader of the Jacksonville Masjid of Al-Islam. Most Muslims, he said, oppose abortion, same-sex marriage and gambling, as do many of their evangelical Christian counterparts.

Not that political agreement led him to accept the invitation.

“Now it’s a matter of us rallying around our new leader and giving him some support and praying for him to get the guidance he needs,” Rasheed said. “We’re all created by the same creator — that’s what he wants us to do.”

In fact it was Rasheed’s penchant for finding what unites faiths rather than divides them that got the governor-elect’s attention, inauguration spokeswoman Erin Isaac said.

The imam will join Jewish, Catholic and Protestant ministers, including Jacksonville’s Bishop Vaughn McLaughlin, on the podium Tuesday, according to the inauguration website. (More)


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