Cape Town - 140916 - Oxford University professor Taj Hargey speaks to the Cape Argus about his plans to establish an "Open Mosque" in Cape Town, the mosque will allow women to lead prayers and also welcomes homosexuals and even non-Muslims. Reporter: Chelsea Geach Picture: David Ritchie (083 652 4951)

 Cape Town - The Open Mosque in Wynberg has not suffered a backlash after hosting a Christmas dinner for about 100 Christian guests, says its founder, Dr Taj Hargey.

Hargey described the dinner on Sunday as a “historic occasion that has never been (seen) anywhere in the world before”.

It would become an annual event at the mosque.

“The strange part is that there has been no backlash and not a single nasty comment or telephone call. This was an event to bring people together. And most people realise we have to come together, otherwise there will be no future for any of us,” Hargey told the Cape Times on Monday night.

 “Prophet Muhammad respected and honoured the Christians in his midst. This is the lesson that Muslims must copy today, and not the violence and bloodshed of Isis (the self-styled Islamic State), the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram in Nigeria and al-Shabaab in Somalia.

“We should not be following these fanatical, bloodthirsty terrorists who harm the reputation of Islam. Our invitation to Christians was an antidote to the poison propagated by these terrorists."

Hargey told guests of six examples of friendliness that Prophet Muhammad had shown towards Christians. These included that he had allowed Christian bishops from Yemen to stay and pray in his mosque in Medina, and that he had married a Christian woman without requiring her to convert to Islam.

He also appointed a Christian to represent him as his personal ambassador at the Byzantine empire and included Christians as part of the original Islamic community in Medina by giving them freedom of religion.

He gave monks of St Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai Desert a pledge that they would be able to practise their faith for all time, and sent early Muslims who were being persecuted to find refuge in Christian Abyssinia (now Ethiopia). “These six examples showed clearly that Prophet Muhammad respected and honoured the Christians.”

In hosting the dinner, they had no desire to convert Christians to Islam but for Christians to understand Islam and Muslims. Many of the Christians, who included pastors from various denominations, said they had never been in a mosque before.

Cape Times

* An IOL reader points out that interfaith dinners have been held at other mosques in Cape Town, and that other faiths are always welcome at mosques.