“After a year of intense collaboration and mutual understanding with our Muslim friends of the mosque in Harlem – some members of the Focolare community in New York write – on 29th May last, we held a meeting called: ‘Our Journey towards the Excellence of the Human Family’.”
Before telling the 200 participants about the journey travelled together all these years, the young Muslims and members of the Focolare Movement recited the covenant of respect, brotherhood and mutual love, which is the basis of this walking together. “It was very powerful – Lumi tells us – to see the conviction of these young people who took the assignment to build universal brotherhood with responsibility and seriousness, referring to the pact made by Chiara Lubich and WD Mohammed.”
In fact, a new page in relations between Christians and Muslims was opened in May 1997 in the United States. Chiara Lubich, a Christian woman, had been invited by Imam WD Mohammed, the charismatic leader of African-American Muslims, to address her message to the faithful gathered in the Historic Malcolm Shabazz Mosque, in Harlem. At the end of that special day, the Imam said: “Today, here in Harlem, New York, a page of history has been written.” That was when the two leaders had made that pact of fraternity.
Watching the images showing the history of the path followed up to today, for someone it was like “reliving the power of that extraordinary meeting of ’97 in my mosque; my hope is that together we can keep this flame burning and give light to many … “. For many, on the other hand, it was a discovery to get to know the origins, but also the development of this unique experience of fraternity among African-American Muslims and American Christians.
The comments of the participants speak for themselves: “I was struck by the atmosphere of family and reconciliation among some Muslims of different communities.” “We must continue to work together, because this is not a superficial relationship and leads to hope.” “We had the distinct impression that the words of Chiara and the Imam were more alive than ever, the prophecy of a miracle that continues!”
Father McWeeney, Director of Interreligious Dialogue of the Archdiocese of New York, bringing the greeting of Cardinal Dolan pointed out that Chiara and the Imam WD had made that covenant “forever”, inviting us to pass on this experience to young people.
Today in the U.S., there are more than 40 mosques and Focolare communities involved holding regular meetings of Christian and Muslim communities, whites and blacks, which aim to build fraternity; a spirit of brotherhood that has a practical expression in various initiatives for the benefit of their own cities and neighbourhoods.