VICTORIA – Fifteen mosques across Victoria have welcomed hundreds of locals through their doors to celebrate the very first Victorian Mosque Open Day, offering many families a chance to visit a mosque for the first time.
“What we want to do is facilitate an opportunity for non-Muslims in local suburbia who’ve never really met a Muslim,” Islamic Council of Victoria’s executive director Nail Aykan told AboutIslam.net.
“Our focus is average mums and dads to meet average Muslim mums and dads,” he added.
Aykan said that the mosque doors are open anytime, and the official open day is an attempt to open hearts.
The Islamic Council of Victoria started the open day initiative to give people the opportunity to come in and have a look at what goes on inside a mosque, and encourage them to ask questions to engage in open dialogue.
It comes at a time where today’s climate of fear and misunderstanding has lead to a lot of uncomfortable attention towards Islam and the Muslim community.
Advocating on behalf of the Muslim community, the ICV started the project to help the Victorian community look beyond what is portrayed of Muslims and to build dialogue and friendship.
“We also want them to feel comfortable in asking any questions. Making a friend today is what we want visitors to achieve,” ICV President Mohamed Mohideen told AboutIslam.
Guided mosque tours, henna tattooing, and try-on-a-hihab workshops proved to be popular among families, many first-timers getting involved and participating in the activities.
There are currently over fifty mosques in Victoria, and many of those are built on suburban streets, and many neighbor schools and churches.
With Ramadan around the corner, those who live in near a mosque were encouraged to ask questions.
“If they understand why the streets are busy on a Friday, they may be able to tolerate more and have a better appreciation for what we do’’ said executive director Aykan.
According to astronomical calculations, the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) announced that Ramadan fasting will start in Europe on Saturday, May 27, 2017.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
Over the next ten years, there are plans to build sixteen more mosques, Aykan said, adding he believes the timing is perfect as church attendance in Australia is diminishing.
“Sixty-three per cent Of Australians have indicated they are of Christian faith, but only 8 per cent of them turn up to church on Sunday, whereas Muslim numbers are increasing,” he said.
He believes the demand the increase in projects is a response to the increasing of worshippers.