Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed’s order to change the name of a mosque in the capital to Mariam Umm Eisa or Mary, Mother of Jesus Mosque is a far-reaching and unique gesture, underlining this country’s commitment to tolerance and to inter-faith dialogue and understanding. The mosque is just steps away from St Andrew’s Church. Rev Canon Andrew Thompson, senior Anglican chaplain, hailed the renaming as a “lovely gesture”.
But more than that, it is a grand educational call for the many who are unaware that Jesus is one of the prophets of Islam and his mother, Mary, one of its four leading women – with an entire chapter devoted to her in the Quran (and also one for Joseph).
In a world of seemingly ever increasing intolerance and intransigence, this remarkable gesture sends out a powerful message to the broad international community that the UAE is a beacon of tolerance and understanding in a region that is too often racked by conflict and chaos.