A Scottish reverend opened the doors of his church to Muslims when he saw them praying in the street outside.

St John's church in Aberdeen is believed to be the only place in the UK where Muslims and Christians worship side by side, and the first Scottish church in the world to open its doors to Islam.

Reverend Isaac Poobalan decided to welcome Muslims after seeing a group of people praying outside the nearby Syed Shah Mustafa Jame Masjid mosque, which had run out space.

The Reverend Isaac Poobalan told the Guardian: "One day when I was walking past the mosque, I found 20 or 30 people outside on the ground around the pavements with their hands and feet exposed. You could see their breath.

"When I spoke to people at the church about the situation, someone actually said to me this was not our problem, but I had seen it with my own eyes, so it was a problem."

The Islamic presence within St John's has since grown rapidly. Now, up to 100 Muslims pray in the main chapel five times every Friday. Muslims in the city centre are now looking forward to taking up a lease on part of the church, which is being renovated at their expense.

Jaffar Mohammed, a local train engineer said: "We are grateful to our brother Isaac for giving us the chance to pray here.

"Muslims would come from throughout the city centre to the mosque. Often we'd find ourselves putting a prayer mat on the street until St John's took us in."

The Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney, the Right Rev Dr Robert Gillies, said: "Internationally, the news speaks of tension and struggles between Islam and Christianity. Yet, here in Aberdeen, a mosque and a church have built bonds of affection and friendship.

"It must be stressed that neither has surrendered or compromised any aspect of the historic faith to which each holds. But mutual hospitality and goodwill exists."

"What happens here is special and there should be no problem repeating this across the country. The relationship is friendly and respectful," Chief Imam Amed Magghabri told the Scottish Daily Record.

US mosque construction at all-time high

Other examples of Christians and Muslims sharing the same place of worship include the Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Vancouver, who allowed the Islamic Circle of North America to hold Friday prayers in the chapel while their new mosque is being built.

This caused a storm of controversy, with radio talk show host and Christian theologian Dr Alex McFarland saying that these churches "have crossed the line from respect and tolerance, to ... affirmation and endorsement.

"To let a building simultaneously be used for the activities of a mosque and also the activities of Jesus Christ, it's just incompatible. And I think it's one more example of political correctness and hyper-tolerance gone awry," he told Fox News.

In the United States, mosque construction is at an all-time high. According to The American Mosque 2011 study, sponsored by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, the number of Islamic places of worship in North America have risen by 74 percent in the past decade.