Obama visits triumphal mosque built on site of church, asks imam to pray for him
This Thursday May 1, ushers in the 2014 observance of the National Day of Prayer.
In his first Inaugural Address, President George Washington prayed that the Almighty would preserve freedom of all Americans. On this 63rd annual National Day of Prayer— an observance initiated by President Harry Truman —- we celebrate that freedom and America’s great tradition of prayer. We are encouraged to give thanks for God’s many blessings and to pray for each other and our Nation.
CNSNews reports on a prayerful moment Barack Obama had while visiting Malaysia’s National Mosque on Sunday. While there, and after removing his shoes as a sign of respect, Obama was asked by the Grand Imam Ismail Muhammad to end oppression against Muslims worldwide.
“Pray for me,” Obama replied, according to the imam who took him on a 25-minute tour of the mosque.
The 70-year-old cleric said Obama frequently replied with “Insy Allah” (Malay for “Allah willing”) and “terima kasih” (“thank you”) during the tour. The Straits Times reports that Obama was a hit during his trip due to his familiarity with the Malay language.
“This is out of the ordinary as I cannot recall any non-Muslim world leader visiting the National Mosque and this is a good start for Muslims here,” said Ustaz Wan Akashah Wan Abdul Hamid, a Muslim scholar.
The National Mosque was built in 1965 — after Malaysia won independence from Britain in 1957. It was constructed on the site of a Brethren Church built in 1922 that had been appropriated by the Malaysian government for the specific purpose of replacing the church with a mosque.
Although Malaysia is a multi-religious society, and the Malaysian constitution theoretically guarantees freedom of religion, Islam is the official religion of the nation, as well as the legally presumed faith of all ethnic Malays. Ethnic Malays are forbidden to leave Islam. Non-Malay Muslims seeking to renounce Islam require permission from a Sharia court, which is rarely granted.