WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump began his first full day in charge of the U.S. government by attending an interfaith prayer service at Washington National Cathedral on Saturday, where the clergy spoke of compassion and diversity.
The service began with calls to prayer by the cathedral’s canon, the Reverend Rosemarie Duncan; a Jewish cantor, Mikhail Manevich; and Muslim Imam Mohamed Magid.
Imam Mohamed Magid, executive director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, is a well-known figure in Washington, but he had been sharply criticised by fellow Muslims for agreeing to take part in the event Saturday at Washington National Cathedral.
Magid was one of 26 religious leaders from a diverse array of faiths to participate in the service, an inaugural tradition since George Washington. The event’s program said Magid would recite the “Muslim call to prayer,” leading many to believe he would intone the adhan, the melodic call to worship that issues forth from many mosques five times a day.
Instead, the imam chose two passages from the Quran with clear political implications, especially at a time of racial and religious strife, when many American Muslims feel marginalized and mistrusted.
The first verse he read was from Surah Al-Hujarat, in which God says:
“O humankind, We have created you a single male and female (Adam and Eve) and made you into nations and tribes and communities, that you may know one another. Really, the most honored of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you, and God has all knowledge…”
The second verse he read was from Surah Ar-Rum:
“And among the signs of God is the creation of heaven and earth, and the variation in your languages and your colors. Verily, in that are signs for those who know.”
A spokesman for Magid said his recitation of the verses had been approved by officials at the Washington National Cathedral.