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Note: this text is available in german language too.

Experiences of a christian while praying with muslims

Who is the referent?

Since I entered a mosque for the first time, I have had felt an intensive wish to pray with muslims. This desire has not been created by doubt against my own faith. Anxiety about Islam and mosques thince my childhood did not prejudice this desire.

Partners of christian-islamic prayers

Years of reflection and discussion made possible the participation with peace-prayers as well as islamic ritual prayer and sufi-dhikrs in memory of God. The travel has been a little bit adventurous, because there was no tourists' guide to tell me, what's allowed and what's forbidden. But I had companions on my (christian) side and tender hosts on the other (muslim) side.

There have been orthodox muslims as well as sufis, which, starting from the founders of their orders, represent the noble-minded side of islam.

Many of them have been converted german muslims. I don't want to say, that they take their faith less serious than muslims from traditionel islamic countries. It's only, that discussions with them have been easily for me because of common language and common cultural background.


If one prays to the lord in presence of people of other faith one should at first reflect the lord and his praise, not the demonstration of the differences. In my opinion it is no treachery for a christian, some time to refrain from mentioning the trinity. For instance in the german christian festival-song "great Lord, we praise you" the trinity appears not before the fourth strophe. Outside of the duty-prayer the muslims are also able to resign on the confession of their prophet Mohammed, for whom I pray too, although I don't confess him as a prophet.

It is a good habit, to exchange the selected prayer-texts in advance and to confirm that they are ok for both sides. Of course afterwards you have to hold to the agreement. I collected many proper prayer-texts, from both religions (but only in german language).

Arabic prayers or arabic Quran-verses will be always repeated in german language. That gives christians certainty against delusion. And it gives christians the opportunity to know and perhaps to like some islamic prayers as well. If christians use prayers or songs with aramaeic, greek or latin pieces, of course they also have to be repeated in german language.

It is a good habit to close common meetings with the christian lords prayer and the Quranic fatiha.

To become familiar with the other faith

You learn respect in these meetings, when you come tired to breakfast and recognize, that muslims made their morning-prayer much earlier. How thoughtlessness euro-centric we okzidental people are, we become aware, when we make a date within the ramadan and then stay alone.

Praying common or only side by side?

At the beginning one follows the warnings of the religious officials to pray only side by side, not together. Likewise one should select neutral rooms instead of churches and mosques.

For beginners this rule is ok and helpful. Advanced persons pray together nevertheless. It is not, that advanced persons accept syncretism, which means the mixture of religions. Rather with increasing trust one enjoies commons to the full, because the differences are accepted and it is not longer necessary to demonstrate them.

I never met anybody, who became "switched" by interreligious prayers. But I met persons, which found back to their native faith surprisingly by interreligious contacts.

At the beginning christians finds difficulty to recognize their christian God behind the word "Allah". It is helpful to know, that arabic christians and the arabic Bible use this word for God too.

It is an evident difference, wether you share a common peace-prayer or wether you accept the invitation for the ritual prayer of another faith. One may ask, wether the acceptance of such an invitation is an intellectual trifle with bad influence upon auditors.

I learned, that it may be even injurious to deny such an invitation. If I as a christian share an islamic prayer, may be I confuse other christians. But if I deny, I confuse surely the muslims. Because I before confessed, that in my opinion jews, christians and muslims pray to the same God.

At the beginning one can feel the participation of members of other faith as a robbing, as a breaking-in. But generally the joy about the reciprocal acceptance seems to be predominant. I have (not longer) bad feeling, when during a christian service muslims are sitting at my side singing and praying texts (acceptable for them) with me.

Interesting I found the experience, that muslim women are praying consequently separated from muslim men. In most christian denominations women and men are sitting mixed, and we feel very progressive with it. I do not like to banish women on church-gallerys, behind curtains or in basements. I feel it a devaluation. But I like the separated sitting during the service, because it helps to avoid mental diversion. I want it back for the christians.

For what one has to pay attention

One is never allowed to set foot on a prayer-rug with shoes, not for only one step. Muslims should never treat an altar as a place of deposit. Especially for catholic and orthodox christians it remains a holy place also after the divine service.

Christians have to learn to pay more respect to the Quran than to their own Bible. The Bible contains human reports about Jesus. The Quran in the understanding of muslims is dictated word for word by the Lord. Even in a church or mosque a Quran can be put on the floor only then, if it is a prayer's rug, on which one sits himself.

Muslims make a difference between a Quran for their own prayer and a Quran to look up. A christian must not take a prayer-Quran before he gets a permission to, even it seems to be inresistable because of a brilliant arabic example. The permission will be given, if the christian is respectful. Otherwise one should resign to touch the prayer-Quran.

Often Bible and Quran are together presented, if desks are present. Also christians shall think for compasses. In many buildings you can't guess the direction to Mekka. From germany Mekka and Jerusalem have the same direction.


Despite one makes every effort for sense of solidarity there can arise a situation, which desires a regular confession. Not during a prayer, if realised as described. But afterwards when taking tea, driving home together (as to be hoped), or during the next meeting.

If than arises the question for the divine nature of Jesus or the salvation of mankind, a christian has to be confessed. Muslims wait for this confession. Otherwise they would not accept the faith of the christian as serious.

But one should wait calm, until the question comes. Calmness is in general the best word to describe the relationship between people of different faith, who live in friendship. It is not indifference, as an outsider could assume.

In my past, prayer has been an annoying duty for me. Only by model of muslims I now enjoy to pray. The gratitude for that is an important reason for my engagement in christian-islamic dialog.

Klaus Schuenemann

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