12/19/2016, 10.35
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Lahore’s Franciscans celebrate Muhammad's birthday (video)

by Kamran Chaudhry

Monks and Muslims exchange Christmas greetings. The interfaith celebration was held at the Franciscan formation center. Celebrating the birth of the prophet of Islam "in a Christian house can be an example for the entire country." Islamic leader: "We celebrate the greatness of the prophet. But we also respect the Prince of Peace. "


Lahore (AsiaNews) - The Franciscan friars of Lahore celebrated the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad along with some Muslim families. The interfaith celebration was held yesterday at the "Dar ul Naeem", center of Franciscan formation, during which the two religious communities also exchanged Christmas wishes.

Fr. Jamil Albert, coordinator of the Justice Peace and Integrity with Creation (JPIC), told AsiaNews: ""This is the first time we invited everybody for the joint Eid and Christmas feast. The clerics are more than our friends, many showed up despite differences within Islamic sects as to whether the day should be observed or not. The example of Eid celebration in Christian's house will inspire the whole country".

The ceremony began with the recitation of excerpts from the sacred books of both religions. Some Islamic clerics offered evening prayer in the chapel of the Franciscan center. Then  Christmas carols and the naats (songs of praise to Muhammad) were sung and later Christians and Muslims shared dinner. The festivities ended with the cutting of a cake, gifted by the Muslims.

Father Babr John parish priest of Saint Mary's Church in Jamke Cheema, Punjab province, called it a holy moment. "I live in a congested village where it is hard to differentiate the decorations on houses of Christians and Muslims. It's a beautiful recognition".

Father John was among several speakers who urged the need of tolerance and harmony as well as condemned terrorism. Similar programs are being carried out all over Pakistan, where with the approach of Christmas, the streets are filled with colors and festive people.

Many Muslims appreciated the gesture from Christian community. "This is the first time my family saw a Christian seminary. The children were very excited to see the decorated Christmas trees. The exposure will broaden their understanding about other religions, this is the only way out from the ongoing war among sects", said Dr Altaf Tariq of Punjab AIDS consortium.

He concluded: "Everyone agrees with the greatness of the Prophet. Likewise we respect the Prince of Peace. Christmas is a big thing for us as well."


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