As 18 doves flew into the skies over the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament Saturday night, more than 100 diverse Sacramentans blessed copies of the Quran with roses of love.
Again and again they uttered the refrain, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me” at the entrance to the downtown church framed by white statues of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. A musician with a white guitar accompanied them.
Representatives of Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, B’hai, Mormon, Sikh, Vedic Druid and Muslim beliefs read scriptures from the great religious texts – including six verses from the Quran calling for all faiths to live in harmony.
Irfan Haq, speaking on behalf of Sacramento’s Muslims, told the rose bearing crowd outside the cathedral, “On this day September 11 – this day of infamy and darkness – what we are witnessing is a new beginning for Sacramento, for America – this is the America the world needs to see.”
Instead of the image of burning Qurans suggested by Florida Pastor Terry Jones, “Today we saw the great faiths of the world and they blessed to the Quran … Indeed, blessed are the peacemakers,” said Haq, who read a prayer from St. Francis of Assisi: “Oh God make me an instrument of your peace … Where there is hatred let me sow love!”
Michael Hunter, who with his wife Laura brought roses from Roseville to place roses on the Qurans, said this was a good way on the anniversary of 9-11 to promote “healing and peace among all religions.”
Father Anthony Garibaldi of St. Francis Church said the blessing of the Quran tonight “needs to be done – on a human level you don’t desecrate other peoples’ holy objects. I wouldn’t want my Bible burned.
Dr. Sajad Janmohamed, a Shiia Muslim scholar from Folsom, said Muslim here reacted with shock and disbelief at the idea of burning Qurans, but noted, “the Quran is not something that can be burned – like Jesus, it is a living thing in the lives of believers – it comforts them through moments of bereavement and hardship. If you destroy all the Qurans we know it by heart and we can chant it.”
Darshan Singh Mundy of the Sikh temple and a member of Sacramento’s interfaith community, which organized the peace rally, said Saturday night’s ecumenical blessing was “the right response.”
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