A group of Islamic leaders from Los Angeles met with officials from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Brigham Young University in an attempt to increase good relations between Muslims and LDS Church members.
Sixteen visitors from the Council on Islamic Education toured BYU Friday afternoon. The group saw a demonstration of an Arabic computer program designed to teach American Muslim children the Arabic language and stories from the Koran.The group was scheduled to have dinner in Salt Lake City with Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Council of the Twelve and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the First Quorum of the Seventy. Elders Oaks and Holland are both previous presidents of BYU. The Muslims also were scheduled to meet with members of the Relief Society organization.
Shabbir Mansuri, founding director of the Council on Islamic Education, said the trip was designed as an "exchange of information between two communities."
The relationship between the LDS Church and the Muslims began several years ago when Mansuri met Katherine Young, a history teacher in California. Young, a member of the LDS Church, wrote a textbook on the Muslim religion, "An Introduction to Islamic History: A Teacher's Resource Guide," which has been published by the Muslims.
That spawned an interfaith relationship that has been cultivated through various joint service projects since then, said Keith Atkinson, director of public affairs for the LDS Church in the California area.
There are a million Muslims in California, Atkinson said, and this weekend's visit is another step in forging an ongoing friendship between them and the LDS Church, Atkinson said.
The entourage was scheduled to tour Temple Square and see the film "Legacy" Saturday. They will attend the Tabernacle Choir broadcast Sunday before departing.