Interfaith memorial at mosque remembers fallen soldiers

Posted: Friday, June 04, 2004

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Members of eight faiths gathered at a mosque last week to memorialize those killed in the Iraq war and pray for peace.

Interfaith memorial services were held across the country May 27, but Columbia's service was believed to be the only one held in a Muslim house of worship. About 200 people participated.

''We're not making any political statement, we're trying to affirm core values of all religions when we pray together,'' said Carl Evans, chair of the religious studies department at the University of South Carolina.

Participants sat and knelt inside Masjid as-Salaam, listening to words from the Quran, the New Testament and a Native American blessing. Leaders from the Muslim, Unitarian Universalist, Bahai, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Native American traditions read prayers.

They memorialized all 800 American soldiers who have died in the war, along with the more than 11,000 Iraqi civilians and many soldiers from other nations who have been killed in the conflict.

''Everyone in their own tradition expressed scriptures and prayer and we all benefited,'' said Imam Omar Shaheed, the mosque's leader.

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