A mosque in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been renamed as ‘Mariam, Umm Eisa’ — Arabic for ‘Mary, the mother of Jesus.’
“Using the name of ‘Mother Mary’ on this mosque is a gesture of love and peace that we hope will be followed around the world,” The Rev. Ibrahim Farouk, patron of the Pope Tawadros Christian Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt in Abu Dhabi said, according to the Christian Post.
The change on June 14 was ordered by Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, to “consolidate bonds of humanity between followers of different religions”.
According to the Christian Post, more Christian leaders continue to praise the move, noting that this will foster religious tolerance.
The earlier name of the mosque was the Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Mosque.
Mohammed Mattar Al Kaabi, chairperson of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments in the United Arab Emirates told Journalists on Thursday that the renaming of the mosque falls in line with the liberal policies of President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is the President of the United Arab Emirates, the Emir of Abu Dhabi and the Supreme Commander of the Union Defence Force.
Al Kaabi is quoted to have said the UAE has always been keen on tolerance and peaceful coexistence “that is based on justice and brotherliness among all those living in the UAE”.
This week, according to Matters India, a church in Al Ain, an inland oasis city on the eastern border with Oman, UAE opened its doors for Maghrib prayers. The event saw church workers lay down carpets on the wooden floor so that more than 200 Asian Muslim workers could perform prayers.
After hearing the news, several senior Emirati officials in Al Ain called up the church to express their appreciation. “It was the first time, at least in the UAE, that a church opened its doors for Muslim prayers,” said Bobin Skariya, a worker at the St George Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Simhasana Cathedral.
The country, however, continues to be ranked as a “high” level persecutor of Christians, Christian Post reports.