Islip religious leaders unite in prayer

Hafiz Rehman, right, sits with other clergy at

Hafiz Rehman, right, sits with other clergy at an inter-faith prayer summit in Brentwood, NY, (Sept. 15, 2012) (Credit: Newsday/Ed Betz)

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For a few hours Saturday, Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood became an outdoor church -- lawn transformed into imaginary pews as Islip Town religious leaders appealed for unity and healing.

The afternoon prayer summit drew about 60 people, including a dozen Muslim, Christian and Baha'i community leaders.

Participants were urged to pray on issues that plague and divide the community, including high foreclosure and unemployment rates, substance abuse and underperforming schools.

"There are too many people out in our community who are suffering and they need to see the faith community -- all of us together -- bring about change and bring about healing," said the Rev. Roderick Pearson, president of the Islip NAACP, which sponsored the event.

"We've got to bring back some prosperity to the communities," he said. "And we believe that since no one has given us the right answer, the right answer will come from God."

Members of the audience nodded and shouted in agreement as religious leaders took turns addressing them -- some in Spanish, some in a traditional Gospel style.

Dr. Hafizur Rehman, an imam with the Masjid Darul Qur'an mosque in Bay Shore, condemned attacks on U.S. embassies in the Middle East, spurred by an anti-Islam film produced in the United States.

"We must understand that there is no conflict between Islam and Christianity, or Islam and Judaism, or Islam and any other religion," Rehman said.

"The only conflict is between those who believe in coexistence and those who destroy human life," he said.

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