Open day shows Islam is ‘a complete way of life’
2014-08-01 00:57:09 -
Religion
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In 1959, the only Muslims living in Ireland were students, many seeking top-tier medical schooling at Dublin’s Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

In 1959, the only Muslims living in Ireland were students, many seeking top-tier medical schooling at Dublin’s Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

From this small community grew the Islamic Foundation of Ireland, with an initial mission to help organise daily prayer and major celebrations for Muslims in Ireland, having no mosque in which to meet and worship.

Today, the foundation is registered as a friendly society and a charitable organisation, and over the years has a played a part in the founding of multiple mosques across Ireland, including the Dublin Mosque established in 1983 on the South Circular Road.

Some 48,310 Muslims live in Ireland, according to the 2011 Census, and while they represent only one per cent of the total population, the number has grown significantly from the 3,873 Muslims living here just 20 years before.

Yet despite the rapid growth of their community, integration seems to be going smoothly for Irish Muslims. When asked how Irish-Muslim relations are in Dublin, Imam Yahya Al-Hussein tells Metro Éireann: “There are sometimes aspects of discrimination, but it is not a serious matter. We don’t think it is a serious matter.”

Recently, the Islamic Foundation of Ireland hosted an open day event at the Dublin Mosque when it allowed visitors to tour the mosque, enjoy a traditional meal and view an educational exhibition.

“We wanted to open up to the community, especially the local community here, to tell them about ourselves and welcome them,” says Imam Al-Hussein.

The exhibition describes the life and beliefs of those of Islamic faith. Visitors learn that Islam consists of five pillars: Shahadah, Salat, Zakat, Sawm, and Hajj.

Shahadah is the basic doctrine of Islam, a testimony of faith in one God, Allah, and his messenger, the prophet Muhammad. Salat is the ritual of prayer, which is performed five times each day.

Zakat is the institution of charity, which urges those of wealth to donate to those in need. Sawm is the fasting that takes places from dawn to dusk during the month of Ramadan, the most sacred month of the Islamic calendar.

The last pillar is Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, to be made at least once in any able-bodied Muslim’s lifetime.

“Islam is not a religion in the normal understanding of the word,” says the imam. “It is a complete way of life. It is not a private relationship with God; it’s more than that.”

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