The Muslim workers offering Maghrib prayer at St George Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Simhasana Cathedral in Al Ain. The church later organised an iftar for the workers.

Abu Dhabi: Members of an Indian church in Al Ain cherish the gratitude expressed by more than 200 Muslim workers who had the rare opportunity of offering the Maghrib prayer inside the church last Friday.

“All of them said that it was the first time they had offered prayers in another religious shrine. They said it was their privilege and thanked us for this rare opportunity,” Bobin Skariya, convener of the Iftar Committee at St George Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Simhasana Cathedral in Al Ain, told Gulf News on Tuesday.

Some church members were concerned about whether Muslims would be hesitant to offer prayers in a church. “But it was heartening that none of our Muslim brothers had such concerns at all. We all were delighted that our brothers upheld the true spirit of Islam,” Skariya explained.

“It was the first time, at least in the UAE, that a church opened its doors for Muslim prayers.”

The church conducted the iftar get-together for Asian road workers residing in a labour accommodation near the church.

Some senior Emirati officials in Al Ain, who got to know about Muslims praying inside the church, called up the church to express their appreciation. “When they said that we upheld the UAE’s true values of religious and social harmony, we felt proud,” the convenor said.

Many Muslim leaders and friends, apart from fellow Christians, also congratulated the church and offered their support for such endeavours in the future. “This inspires us to promote similar initiatives,” he said.

The church members spared no effort to make their Muslim brothers comfortable inside the church. “For our prayers, we were using the bare wooden floor, but we arranged a special carpet for them,” Skariya said.

The church members prepared the food for their guests themselves. Members of the women’s wing, youth wing and the elders forum cooked chicken biryani in the church premises after mass on Friday.

The church caters to around 270 families from the southern Indian state of Kerala. Established in 1994, the church inaugurated its new building in 2010.