Christian clergy from various churches will visit the Jamia Mosque in Nairobi on Friday in a historic event aimed at strengthening relations between the two religious sides.
They will be hosted by their Muslim counterparts in a forum that forms part of a larger peace programme aimed at strengthening relations between Muslims and Christians.
The programme is being steered by the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya, a coalition of all major faith communities in Kenya together with the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya and the Jamia Mosque.
According to organisers of the event, at least 10 bishops from various Christian churches are expected to be part of the congregation at the Jamia Mosque during the Friday prayers.
The Muslim side, through its leaders, will also carry out similar visits to Christian churches, according to Mr Abdulhamid Slatch, a member of the Jamia Mosque planning committee.
The Christian representatives will first be taken on a tour of the Jamia Mosque complex and later observe the Friday prayers from a place that has been reserved for them, according to communications officer Abu Ayman.
They will then have lunch before holding joint discussions.
FOSTER NATIONAL COHESION
According to Mr Ayman, the programme aims at promoting inter-faith relations and fostering national cohesion among Kenyans from different religious persuasions.
It also seeks to promote unity and peaceful coexistence among Kenyans.
The initiative is as a result of increased suspicions between Christians and Muslims following a series of terror-related attacks by Al-Shabaab.
Following the terror attacks, there have been fears that the two sides were drifting apart, thus threatening cohesion among them.
Friday’s forum will also be part of events lined up by the inter-religious council to mark the International Day of Peace.
“It is the first time this will be happening because of what has been happening in the country. With the terrorists bringing suspicions and divisions between Muslims and non-Muslims we are trying to reassure each other that we are still brothers and sisters and we should remain together,” Mr Ayman said.
Only male journalists will, however, be allowed in the prayer area, in line with Islamic practices.
Speaking for the Ufungamano Joint Forum for Religious Organisations, secretary Charles Wambugu said this was a welcome initiative since it focuses on building national cohesion.
“As far as I am concerned, we in the Ufungamano believe the Christians, Muslims and Hindus should work together towards building a peaceful Kenya,” he said.
Mr Wambugu said the unity between the various faiths existed before the promulgation of the Constitution before differences on the proposal to establish the Kadhi courts saw the Muslims leave Ufungamano.
“If they are trying to reach out to the Christians in the interests of the country then we have no problem and we will support that effort. It is a good effort, and we will be happy to support it,” he said.
Mr Slatch on the other hand said the two sides would develop an agenda on how to move forward after Friday’s forum.
“We are trying to get our brothers and sisters together for cohesion. The country is bigger than individuals. We want to renew the friendship,” he said.