Washington church welcomes Muslims for Friday prayers

D.C. church a home for Muslims

WASHINGTON -- Next Tuesday marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month. At a time when religions are so often in conflict with each other, a house of worship in Washington D.C. stands out as a place of unity.

Every Friday inside a historic church, there is a call to prayer -- answered by hundreds of Muslims, surrounded by Christian icons. Two religions sharing the same space.

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Farooq Syed has been organizing these Friday prayers ever since the Church of the Epiphany opened its doors to the Muslim faithful who needed a place to worship eight years ago.

"It starts with people understanding each other," Syed told CBS News. "And then it grows to religions understanding each other."

The prayers began with 50 people. Now there are more than 300 who pray each week, with the church's blessing.

"It's our job to be the hands and feet of peace in the world, and how do we do that is by loving one another," the Rev. Elizabeth Gardner said.

"I don't know if they ever thought that Muslims would come here and pray, and become one of the biggest congregations of Church of the Epiphany," Syed said. "This is the biggest congregation that Church of the Epiphany has, the Muslim prayers."

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Muslims gather for Friday prayers at the Church of the Epiphany in Washington, D.C. CBS News

Fifty-year-old Sayeed Bond is homeless. He converted to Islam in his twenties, but found this prayer service by chance three years ago.

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"Not only did they feed my stomach, but they also fed my soul," Bond said.

He's one of dozens of homeless people who are part of this congregation and now helps prepare the sanctuary for Friday prayers.

For Bond, the church has become more than just a place to pray.

"Look, look at that," he said, pointing out a stained glass window showing Jesus. "I'm not Christian, I look at that. That's beautiful."

During the prayers, we heard a sound: church bells.

"It's amazing, you know, it's amazing to see two things together," Syed said. "Who can imagine, you know, church bells ringing and a Muslim giving the sermon. It's a moment of reflection for people who think we are different. We are all the same. We are all the same."

Muslims and Christians in unity, in a church bearing witness to an epiphany.