Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has ordered the renaming of the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Mosque to Mariam, Umm Eisa which in English means “Mary, the mother of Jesus”.
The Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Mosque in Al Mushrif is situated in a district in the capital Abu Dhabi.
Coming as a religious shock to many. Some Muslims have debunked the notion that renaming the mosque after Mary, mother of Jesus is an absurdity. Citing their Holy Book, they say they believe in the role of Mary to the religion as the mother of Jesus.
Orthodox Christians like Roman Catholics, believe and honor the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the church as the mother of God- Jesus.
The authorities’ objective in renaming the mosque is to strengthen the unifying elements and beliefs of both the Christian and the Islamic religion. The idea is to “consolidate bonds of humanity between followers of different religions.”
They believe this will disarm to a maximum, the dividing factors between both orthodox religions.
In February last year, UAE created 2 ministries- Ministry of Happiness and Ministry of Tolerance; headed by Ohoud Al-Roumi and Sheikha Lubna Al Qassimi respectively (both women).
With regards to the renaming of the Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance, shared her appreciation and thanked Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed for his “wise directives in carrying out this initiative that set a shining example, and a beautiful image of the tolerance and coexistence enjoyed by the UAE”.
The Minister said it was a remarkable coincidence that the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Mosque was renamed on Wednesday (Ramadan 19), the Zayed Humanitarian Day.
Christian Ministers of various denominations have applauded the rare development.
A stone-throw away from the newly-renamed mosque is St Andrew’s Church, an Anglican parish. The senior chaplain, Reverend Canon Andrew Thompson, expressed his delight over the event.
“We are delighted that we are celebrating something that we have in common between both our faiths,”
“Mary, as the mother of Jesus, is, of course, a holy, special figure in our communities. She is a woman who symbolizes obedience to God. We look forward to growing in deeper understanding with our neighbours, and we celebrate with them the new name of the mosque.”
In an interview with Gulf News, Jeramie Rinne said renaming the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Mosque after a significant Christian figure was indeed a move towards religious tolerance.
“His Highness Shaikh Mohammad has made another generous gesture of religious tolerance in renaming the mosque,”
“The UAE continues to set the pace in this region for peaceful coexistence and cooperation. We are very encouraged and feel blessed to be a part of this nation.”
NOTE: In terms of the happiness index, UAE has been ranked above Brazil, France and Spain; and the highest-ranked Arab country.