A 50-year old church sits on a tree-lined street in Faisalabad’s Nazimabad with stained windows and blue carpeting. On the other side of its wall, there’s a mosque with a red and white exterior and a cavernous prayer area.
Despite the different faiths, the two houses of worship are friendly neighbours and help each other in times of need.
“It has been 25 years, but we have never faced any conflicts,” said Muhammad Ijaz, an imam at the Jamia Masjid Muhammad Ali Fazli.
“We have not put the speakers of the mosque on the roof, but inside so that our Christian brothers’ Mass does not get disturbed,” he said. “If we ever need anything, they take it from us and it is the same for them.”
We coordinate the timings of our prayers, said Babu Rafaqat, an in-charge at St Paul’s Catholic Church. He believes that respect and tolerance can improve relations between people of different communities and reduce religious tensions.
“The hafiz sahib helped us with the renovation of our church,” Rafaqat said. “We always respect the azaan (Muslim call to prayer) and mute our microphones during mass,” he added.
The imam said that their Christian brothers also attend sessions held at the mosque. “We held a screening of Muhammad Yusuf’s statement and invited our brothers to come and hear it,” he said, adding that he was happy to see that they took interest in it.
Both Ijaz and Rafaqat pray for peace and unity in the country.