Reverend Kathy Bean had a vision. During her Roman Catholic WomenPriest council meeting last summer, she heard Author Victoria Rue (and fellow RCWP) present her play “Mary/Maryam” to the council. This original work is a conversation between Mary of the Gospels and Maryam of the Q’uran, discussing the common aspects of this remarkable woman’s life events (Mary/Maryam’s birth, the Annunciation and Birth of her son Jesus/Isa) found in both the Q’uran and Gospels, including the non-canonical Book of James.
About this time, Sue Sutton, of LBC’s Social Justice Committee, invited members of the Ahmadiyya Mosque to attend liturgy at the Living Beatitudes Community. Following the liturgy, the Muslim group was asked to share about their faith and practices. Their comments about our common ancestors and similarities were interesting and created much discussion around the role of women and LGBT people in Islam and the role of women in churches.
Bean, a Presider for the Dayton Chapter’s Living Beatitudes Community was inspired and saw an opportunity to bring Mary/Maryam to life. “I wanted to to see if their members would collaborate on a production of this unique play during Advent. “ What I learned was that many of the Muslim women I approached were reluctant to present Maryam in the play, particularly using the words “ I am Maryam.” After several meetings and rewrites, Muslim women from both Dayton and Cincinnati mosques came forward to both promote the event and serve as advocates for their faith.
The play opened on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 with 40 people in attendance at Christ Episcopal social hall. Three women from the Dayton and Cincinnati Islamic communities and 10 members of the Living Beatitudes Community were cast as various ages of Mary/Maryam, the Four Evangelists, and Zechariah.
Between the three-act play, audience members were given discussion questions about the similarities and differences of the Birth, Annunciation and Nativity narratives from the Q’uran and Gospels, as well as queries about the significance of Mary’s virginity versus Maryam’s purity.
The presentation helped to demonstrate an important connection between these two great world religions. Comments from the audience included “The stories about Mary/Maryam had similarities that made us reflect on the value of myth in the expression of our faith. “Wonderful to see how were are connected as family— Jewish Christian and Islamic” “We talk about the Judeo- Christian tradition, but its really Judeo-Christian- Islamic tradition. “