When the Islamic Institute of America bought a Baptist church, the plan initially was to remove the pews — until the mosque's leader objected, in part because he saw keeping the benches as a way of showing Islam's compatibility with its sister faith.
"We're sending a message to non-Muslim visitors and friends — particularly our interfaith community and Christians," Iman Hassan Qazwini, one of the top Shiite Muslim leaders in the U.S., said from what's now the institute's lecture hall.
"We use the same benches you sat on. We're using the same stage your pastor used to disseminate our message, which is not too different from your message," he added. "The gap that exists between us is not that huge."