sioux falls, sd
The minutes and days after 9/11, people of all faiths flooded their places of worship. Everyone felt touched by the tragedy and was trying to make sense of the attack.
They were acts of violence, an attack on the soul of the country that rocked the core of our being.
“Churches were full wherever you went,” Our Savior's Lutheran Church Pastor Leslie G. Svendsen said.
“You to go synagogue, church or temple, we'll make sure the place is safe and sound for women, kids and men who come there,” Mohamed Sharif at the Islamic Center of Sioux Falls said.
“Evil acts will happen because we are human beings,” Svendsen said. “And evil is at work in the world.”
To a question they never even thought they'd have to ask. Svendsen was in Minnesota at the time serving a congregation touched personally by the disaster.
“One of them had a sibling they lost,” Svendsen said. “Another a nephew. So even though it was two thousand miles away.”
“This tragedy touched everyone, Muslims and others as well,” Sharif said.
Sharif was in Sioux Falls.
“Muslims do not condone any kind of violent terrorist act,” Sharif said.
He says the Muslim Community was shocked too. Some were even in fear for the safety of their families, and their lives when the world found out it was a Muslim who masterminded the attacks. Sharif says he knew he'd be safe.
“We had to work with our people to make sure they're safe and make sure they understand the U.S. is a country where people practice religion without fear of backlashes or being revenged,” Sharif said.
But the Islamic Center of Sioux Falls went into protection mode anyway. It's a stark contrast from what happened at other houses of worship, where worshippers gathered to mourn the losses and make sense of it all.
“The Psalm that comes to my mind is Psalm 46,” Svendsen said. “God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble.”
Both faith communities were rocked to the core.
“We go back to the ground of our being,” Svendsen said. "What is the source of our strength? We look to something that is much bigger than ourselves and of course that would be God.”
And both worked hard to rebuild as the nation did the same.
“I think September 11 changed them because now they are more active, really out explaining to people the Islamic faith and cultures,” Sharif said
And if there is a silver lining to be had, that just may be it.
Sharif says the Islamic Center of Sioux Falls worked with several other churches to develop a partnership and increase cultural awareness and understanding following the attacks.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
A misspelling was corrected in this story.