News Release

Latter-day Saint Women Visit With Muslim Neighbours.

Muslim women in Pakenham, Victoria, accepted the invitation to have a "Ladies Day" with their neighbouring members of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints on 1 June. Sharing thoughts, experiences, and lunch at the Pakenham Stake Centre, they found much in common.

Part of the day included a panel discussion on births, deaths and marriages in the two cultures. Pam Mamouney, vice president of the Casey Multi-faith Network (CMFN) and a Latter-day Saint who helped organize the event, commented, "Everyone was surprised at how much we had in common."

The Latter-day Saint women felt their hearts go out to these new friends. The Ahmadiyya Muslims have come from Pakistan and are persecuted there. Because a few of their concepts differ from traditional Islam, they are declared "unbelievers" by fellow Muslims. Many have been killed in their own country.

The women are well-educated and live according to Australian law. In Pakistan, a man may have four wives, for example. Here, however, they do not follow that pattern.

Persecution, misunderstanding, and having to leave home are written on the pages of Latter-day Saint history, allowing the women a ready bond. Even more prominent, however, were the similarities in everyday life, concerns for family, and efforts to live by their beliefs.

Attending the Ladies Day event were Mayor Shar Balmes, Kaukob Shafiq (president of the Victorian Ahmadiyya Muslim Ladies), Naureen Choudry (secretary of the CMFN), President Kaukob of the Packenham Stake, and two Council Officers from the City of Casey.

A tour of the stake centre was given. Shelley Mueen, one of the Muslims in attendance, said, "I loved the Family History section." She was happy to learn that the Family History Library is open to the general public and can be used free of charge.

Another visitor commented that the building "blew my mind away."

Prayers, scripture reading, and a luncheon were also part of the day. Most participants felt the time for questions and conversation ran out far too quickly.

In January, young women of the two faiths met and shared experiences and beliefs in a similar fashion. They made and ate traditional food, talked about school and interests, and hugged good-bye at the end, too, saw firsthand that over the bridge of friendship travel understanding and love.


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