QUEENSLAND – Islamic center in Mackay, Queensland, opened its doors to neighbors during the weekend, offering them a chance to learn more about Islam and Muslims.
“The idea was to allow people to come to the mosque and talk to us, the Muslim community and the representatives of the Muslim community, and learn what Islam is about,” Islamic Council of Queensland spokesman Ali Kadri told ABC News on Tuesday, July 12.
Opening their doors on Sunday, the Islamic center officials offered information pamphlets to people interested in learning more about Islam.
Colin Hofmeier, a north Queensland man, said he is grateful his neighbors invited him along to a mosque open day to learn more about their faith.
“We have a Muslim family who live next to us who we found are just beautiful people,” he said.
Hofmeier and his wife Debra were among dozens of people who attended the open day in Mackay on Sunday.
“There are lots of people out on the streets who are very confused I suppose … this is an opportunity to come along and say, ‘This is what we’ve heard, can you tell me and put it in the right perspective?'” he said.
“My mind says they can’t all be bad; there’s a lot of bad Christians too, and I jumped at the chance to come along today to see what made these people tick.”
Kardi said God was not to blame for what human beings had done in the name of God.
“It is an unfortunate fact that if a few priests do wrong things by children in a Catholic church, then people start blaming the church and God, and people start moving away from religion,” he said.
“I don’t think we’ll get there by taking extreme positions in any shape and form.”
The Islamic center welcomed a huge turnout that was a larger than previous years.
“We’ve had open days before but not many people came, but I think people really came here to show they’re concerned or want to know more, and they are generally interested in knowing what we practice and what we believe in,” Islamic Society of Mackay secretary Imran Abdul Khaliq said.
Khaliq said there were about 200 people in the region who attended the mosque on a regular basis.
“We always have people coming in, and actually we have a lot of visitors who are backpackers who are travelling from Brisbane to Mackay, and they come from a different country and they see the mosque,” he said.
“They are very happy, say hello and go.
“The most important thing I want to say is that we are very peaceful people and we love to live in harmony, and if anyone has any questions please feel free to ask us what you like.”
After talks, visitors were invited to traditional food, prayer and henna painting activities.
“I was a painter all my life so it is easier if you know a bit of drawing,” Farhana Akbar said.
“We recently had a henna party because we fasted one month,” she said.
“At the end of the fasting that night, after 1 o’clock we enjoyed ourselves. Everybody put henna on; we put music on, dance and have food.”