TWO religious leaders are claiming an historic first after an Islamic Imam preached at a Christian chapel.

For the first time in Pembroke College’s 500-year history, a Muslim, Dr Taj Hargey – from the Summertown Islamic Congregation in Oxford – was welcomed to deliver a sermon at its chapel.

The service was preceded by the Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer traditionally carried out by a man, which was read out by an 11-year-old girl from Marston.

The Rev Dr Andrew Teal, of Pembroke College, said he had been trying to get a Muslim Imam to deliver a service at the chapel for many years and he believed it was a first.

He said: “We wanted to do something which brought together Christianity and Islam, but not to create a third thing.

“I think what we are doing today is very unusual, certainly it’s the first time I have heard of it being done at the college.

“The two faiths are actually very close.

“Abraham is a key figure in both Islam and Christianity.

“But I think there’s been a reluctance in the past. I think people may have felt afraid to do something like this.

“I’d hoped for this to happen for a long time. We just needed the right man to do it.”

Christianity and Islam, as well as Judaism, are sometimes referred to as the Abrahamic religions because of the role that Abraham plays in each of the holy books.

All three faiths consider him father of the people of Israel.

During the service, in which Dr Hargey spoke of the links between Christianity and Islam, songs and Psalms from the Bible were read before a reading from the Holy Qur’an.

Dr Hargey, who is also chairman of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford, invited 11-year-old student Nadia Zamri, from Marston, to call the congregation to prayer.

Nadia, who was one of a few pupils who was able to read the Qu’ran when she joined the school, said she was ‘excited’ about being chosen.

Dr Hargey added: “There is a nexus between Christianity and Islam. We both revere Abraham as a very important figure, a father figure. It is up to Muslims and Christians in this great city of ours to show the way for the rest of the country.”