The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States cast a negative light on Islam, and resulted in negative stereotypes about the Muslim religion. Rather than allow relationships among local faith groups to splinter, Catholics and Muslims co-hosted educational workshops to build understanding.
On Wednesday, the Muslim Catholic Alliance will celebrate the fifth anniversary of an agreement signed in 2003 to challenge bigotry and foster respect between the two religions. A dinner will feature keynote speakers from the Islamic Center of America and the Archdiocese of Detroit.
"Many people do not know ... the teachings of our communities are similar," particularly in human rights advocacy, said Muhammad Shafiq, Imam of the Islamic Center of Rochester and an alliance member. "It's quite a bit of interfaith activity. It's a blessing for all of us."
Since 2003, the alliance has sponsored forums on the basic beliefs of Islam and Catholicism and both groups' views on the afterlife, marriage, divorce, and other topics. The forums were held at local parishes, at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester and the Islamic Center.
At least 100 people were present at several events, said Bernard Grizard, an alliance member and director of parish support ministries for the diocese. He said alliance activities also involved other faith groups.