Two Italian Muslim leaders visited the United States last month to learn about interfaith work. How did Kansas City compare with Washington, Los Angeles, New York and Detroit?
Under the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program, the International Visitors Council here welcomed Wagih Saad Hassan Hassan (originally from Egypt) and El Hassan Sadiq (originally from Morocco).
Hassan is the imam of the mosque in Reggio Emilia, and Sadiq is president of his mosque in Cremona. Both towns are in northern Italy near Milan.
Both visitors said Kansas City displayed more genuine interfaith work than anywhere else they had been.
They said that a discussion led by the Rev. Stan Runnels at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was the most profound exchange of their trip.
At that meeting, which included African-American leaders of Al-Inshirah Islamic Center, they learned about the Abraham House at 3754 Flora Ave., built by Jews, Christians and Muslims through the auspices of Habitat for Humanity, thought to be the first house in the United States built by cooperation among folks of these three faiths.
At a picnic sponsored by the Crescent Peace Society, they met Jewish, Christian and Muslim Americans, with many ethnic backgrounds enjoying their friendships of many years.
After his return, Hassan wrote local Muslim leader Ahmed El-Sherif that his time in Kansas City was “the best.” In other places, he said, interfaith activities were pursued like an obligation, but in Kansas City interfaith work is a passion.
Hassan and Sadiq are not alone in rating Kansas City high for its interfaith pursuits.