WAIKATO – The Waikato Muslim Association in New Zealand plans to organize an Islam Awareness Week to shed light on the deeper meaning of the halal concept in Islamic Shari’ah.
“The purpose of our Islam Awareness Week is to get people’s perception of Islam correct,” Waikato Muslim Association president, Asad Mohsin, told Stuff.co.NZ on August 31.
The awareness week which will run between September 17-22 has the theme of “Halal: More than just food.”
“Halal means permissible, which is something that you can consume, something you can enjoy, so that is why it isn’t just the food. It’s a whole given way of life. It also relates to your behavior – your halal behavior – and what Islam has taught you,” Mohsin explained.
He further continued that Haram is the opposite to halal and means forbidden. “People who lose their temper, become aggressive, and try to hurt people, that’s haram, something not permissible. This is why we want to take it beyond the food. Because many a time when you think of halal, you relate it to the food only,” he clarified.
“Halal are actions, halal are the practises we follow, halal is a way of life,” the president further concluded.
The awareness week at the Hamilton Mosque will contain two main events. The first is an Interfaith Forum, to be held on Monday, September 17, in which guest speakers of varying faiths will discuss what halal means to them.
On Saturday, September 22, it will be the Mosque Open Day, and members of the public are invited to attend for a guided mosque tour, cultural exhibition, headscarf tying and henna stands.
According to Mohisn, “The main objective of Islam Awareness Week is to open up to the wider community, so that there can be interaction with people.”
“It’s just to create that awareness, because there is that fear of the unknown which tends to have more impact. But in this situation, at least people come inside, they have tea and coffee with us, share some food with us, and that gives them an opportunity to see.”
The association, along with the University of Waikato Management School, will also host the forth Halal Tourism and Hospitality Symposium on November 21. For information on this, and Islam Awareness Week, phone 07 855 0567.
Islam in New Zealand
In New Zealand, Islam is a minority religious affiliation, as small numbers of Muslim immigrants from South Asia and eastern Europe settled starting from the early 1900s until the 1960s.
On a large-scale, Muslim immigration began in the 1970s with the arrival of Fiji Indians, followed in the 1990s by refugees from various war-torn countries. The first Islamic center was established in 1959 and there are now several mosques and two Islamic schools.
Islam is estimated to be the fastest growing religion among Māori natives of New Zealand. The national census figures show the number of Muslims of Māori ethnicity increasing from 99 to 708 in the 10 years to 2001, and to 1,083 by 2013 census data.
The Aotearoa Māori Muslim Association (AMMA) is the most influential Māori Muslim movement. Its leader, Sheikh Eshaq Te Amorangi Morgan Kireka-Whaanga, was recently identified among the top 500 most influential Muslims.
On the other hand, while the overall Pacific Islander community grew 15% according to census data from 2001 to 2006, Muslim Pacific Islanders grew 87.43%.
According to 2013 census data, there were 1,536 Muslims among the Pacific Islander community (a little under 3.5% of New Zealand’s Muslim population).