MALTA – Struggling for their first mosque for more than 18 years, Muslims in Malta are still waiting for regularized prayer venues.
“We are required to pray five times a day, at a specific time and preferably in a gathering,” Co-founder and Malta Muslim Council volunteer Bader Zina told Times of Malta on Wednesday.
“Friday prayers are compulsory, just like Sunday Mass for Catholics, but have to be carried out in the middle of the day. It is painful for a Muslim to miss prayers, as they feel they are not fulfilling their duty towards their creator.”
Zina said that for over 18 years, Muslims have been trying to obtain permission for centrally located venues to hold prayers.
Through the years, donations made by the congregation had been invested in planning applications, which were always turned down.
Zina added that while the Muslim community was grateful for the temporary provision of the Ospizio premises in Floriana, its hands were tied when it came to long-term community projects.
The community needs a long-term base where it can plan educational initiatives, support the congregation’s social needs and meet other religious leaders.
“As a council, we want to build bridges with society, for the better of society. The more we know each other, the better the understanding and respect towards each other,” he noted.
“According to the Holy Quran, the closest religion to Islam is Christianity. Neither of these two religions asks followers to kill or hurt others in the name of God.
“Neither encourages immoral values but rather generosity and peace,” he added.
“There are some beliefs that Christians and Muslims do not agree on, but these differences do not encourage harm to others. The biggest clashes between the two are misconceptions that are often fanned by the media.
“People might be killing and harming others in the name of Islam, but Islam forbids such acts. People who commit such acts are not Muslim, and, according to Islam, they are criminals who should be brought to justice,” he added.
Zina believes that by regularizing its prayer facilities, the community will be better able to keep an eye on anyone who tries to corrupt believers. So far, there have been no such reports.
“Proper facilities would even benefit the country’s security. If God forbid, there was someone who started preaching unacceptable ideologies, we would take action and report them to the police,” he said.