CANBERRA – Thirty mosques across Australia have opened their doors on Saturday, October 27, to the public, in an initiative aimed at removing stereotypes and misconceptions about Islam.
The Canberra Islamic Center is one of the mosques that opened their doors.
The center’s president Zafar Ahmad said open days were important to increase understanding in the community.
“It’s so people who aren’t from an Islamic background can exchange views and see the place,” Ahmad told The Canberra Times.
“We just want to break some barriers, and terms like ‘us’ and ‘them’ shouldn’t be the case, and people can come in and find out a bit more about us.”
Canberrans were given the opportunity to speak to members of the Islamic community and take part in question and answer sessions throughout the day.
Opening their doors regularly to the public, these events were getting more attendants each year.
“It’s very important, because unless people meet Muslims, they have no idea about it, and we’re not that different from other religions,” Ahmad said.
“For some people, they listen to people like Pauline Hanson` but don’t interact with Muslims. Many people form views without having stepped foot in a mosque.”
Visitors were also able to take part in tours of the newly-opened mosque, which hosts as many as 400 people on busy evenings for prayers.
“Open days can break down the doubts that people have about Islam,” the mosque’s imam, Adam Konda, said.
“People can become aware of things they didn’t know before and kick away some of the stereotypes.”
Ahmad said Canberra’s Islamic community has come closer together since the opening of the new mosque earlier this year, and the open day was a way to share that with others.
“Now we have a dedicated place to pray and to think about life, and it’s also a chance for people to learn things about Islam,” he said.