An Anglican church in Perth’s south, which has been opening its doors to local Muslim worshippers once a week, has offered to sell part of its land for a mosque to be built next door.
An Anglican church in Perth’s south, which has been opening its doors to local Muslim worshippers once a week, has offered to sell part of its land for a mosque to be built next door. Reverend Peter Humphries from St Paul’s Church in Beaconsfield said it was the next step in what had been a natural progression, after Imam Faizel Chothia first knocked on his door five years ago.
“He was looking for a place where local Muslims might be able to hold a prayer meeting,” said Reverend Humphries. “I said, ‘here’. I mean that’s what we do here, it’s the obvious place to pray.”
Since then, local Muslims have been able to go to St Paul’s each Friday, where they can use the original church building to pray five times a day. Imam Faizel is now working on getting the funds together to buy the property, two doors down from the church.
The home is still within the church’s precinct and owned by one of its parishioners, and the Imam said he wanted to not only build a place for his community, but a shared space where conversations could take place. “We want it to be a place of art and of culture – as well as a place for Muslims to pray,” he said.
Photo: The communities of Reverend Peter Humphries (l) and Imam Faizel Chothia pray side by side. (ABC News: Briana Shepherd)
“All we want to do is just replicate what has been part of our legacy which unfortunately has been forgotten because we tend to focus much more on battles and kings.” For Imam Faizel, he will be forever grateful that he walked into St Paul’s. “Peter continues to inspire me,” the Imam said. “He is a more experienced gentlemen, definitely a more insightful, and a deeper thinker than most I know.”
He said they had much in common. The growing relationship between the two men and their communities has not been met without resistance – but overall they said it had been welcomed. “There’s always a minority voice that has criticism and can be sometimes cynical,” Imam Faizel said. “I don’t necessarily think it’s always bad because it’s good that our actions are held to accountability.”
Reverend Humphries said he knew some people would oppose the idea, citing a growing “conservative movement” which had resulted in outcomes like Brexit and Donald Trump’s election in the US. “Everyone who builds a wall or stops the boats is basically trying to halt evolution,” he said. “But the good news is evolution takes no notice of walls or stopping boats or any of that – we’re moving towards oneness and it’s just a shame that some will cling onto what they’ve got.
Photo: Imam Faizel Chothia and Father Peter Humphries have become great friends. (ABC News: Briana Shepherd)