Bringing faiths and cultures together

MATTHEW WOTHERSPOON

Mosques around the country are encouraging Australians of all faiths to come together on October 29 for the annual National Open Mosque Day, to celebrate unity between Muslim and non-Muslim Australians.

The open mosque day aims to break down any negative barriers and provides the opportunity for non-Muslims to learn more about Islam and connect with the local Muslim community.

Spokesperson for the Lebanese Muslim Association, Zachary Rea, said it’s an important time for people of all faiths to come together to learn more about Islam due to the amount of media imagery centred on the faith.

“I think you’ll find at the present time, it’s a pretty timely topic and there’s definitely a lot of interest surrounding it – sometimes negative,” Mr Rea said.

“That’s why we’ve kept it going on year on year, because it has worked well to alleviate queries while benefiting the wider community in establishing more positive community relations.”

“It’s just about to encouraging people to broaden their horizons and actively taking some steps to greet their neighbours who they may haven’t had the chance to meet previously.”

This year is expected to garner a lot more attention following the success of last year’s initiative, with the Lebanese Muslim Association aiming to increase the number of mosques participating on the day.

“Last year garnered a lot of positive feedback, with this year expecting to be an even more successful,” Mr Rea said.

“We’ve got a number of mosques around the country participating and we’ve made a conscious effort to include more regional and rural mosques.”

“A lot of people that have participated in previous years may have had preexisting good will or concern about the faith. But the feedback that we have received has always been overwhelmingly positive, in terms of alleviating any queries.”

“That’s why we’ve kept it going on year on year, because it has worked well to alleviate queries while benefiting the wider community in establishing more positive community relations.”

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This year is Australia’s largest National Mosque Open Day, with participating mosques ranging from regional towns to capital cities. Photo: Lebanese Muslim Association

Griffith University Criminologist Dr Nada Ibrahim praised the initiative following last year’s successful turnout, saying it worked well to demystify any misconceptions surrounding the faith.

“The decision to host an open mosque day is a pro-active step and we want to show the wider community that Muslims are just the same as everyone else,” Dr Ibrahim said.

“A lot of fear is being created because people are reading headlines about Muslims and because it’s an unknown topic, they become scared.”

Holland Park resident, Angela Thompson said she valued last year’s experience and urges other citizens who are curious about Islam to attend their local mosque for this year’s open day.

“An open day provided an opportunity for the community to see inside a mosque but also enabled people to ask questions about the hows and whys of their religious beliefs,” she said.

“One would hope that this opportunity opened more people’s minds to other cultures within Australia but also reinforced the mainstream Muslims desire to be accepted as part of our community.

“I encourage anyone who is curious about the faith to go to the next one, I really learnt a lot.”

Keep up to date with National Mosque Open Day by following the official Facebook page.

 

 

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