An imam told an interfaith audience last Wednesday that, according to the Prophet Mohammed, great honour should be paid to the Jews who escaped from their Egyptian slave-masters in biblical times.
Sheikh Salah al-Ansari of Basingstoke Mosque was addressing a third seder at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, St John’s Wood, held under the auspices of Alif-Aleph UK, which promotes contact between British Muslims and Jews.
It was organised by the group’s founder president, Dr Richard Stone, who wanted to replicate the success of a seder he arranged 15 years ago for Jews and members of the black community.
Afro-Caribbeans and a Japanese woman were among more than 40 invited guests, as were government advisers, councillors, police representatives and Liberal Jewish Synagogue congregants.
Dr Stone led them through the seder service in English and Hebrew, assisted by LJS senior minister Rabbi Alexandra Wright, who reflected on the meaning of Pesach and answered some of the many questions from the audience.
Speaking to the JC afterwards, Dr Stone reported that the imam, who is of Egyptian descent, recited passages from the Koran relating to the exodus of Jews from Egypt.
“He then surprised us all by pointing out how these indicated that the Prophet Mohammed had condemned the actions of the Egyptians of Pharaoh’s time while advocating that great honour should be paid to the Jews who managed to escape from their hard task-masters.”
Having been advised about the dietary requirements of kashrut and Pesach, guests brought some well-received contributions to the informal meal.
“The feedback was fantastic,” Dr Stone added. “It proved such a wonderful opportunity for people from entirely different communities and backgrounds to meet, talk and learn from each other — which is what it was all about.”