A look inside
My first memory of religion was the Presbyterian Church near where I
grew up. On the way to the shops we would pass by and my mum would stop to talk to
Minister Chai. He would give us sherbets, redskins, and milkos. Church seemed pretty
good to a 5 year old when it involved lollies and neighbourly chat.
Then my mum turned Pentecostal, there was less community and more
conflict as she church hopped looking for the most spiritually-correct version.
As a teenager I flirted with it for a while. It was like a short-term fling
gone bad. I called it off and I couldn’t face it anymore. Since then I’ve
avoided all organised religion. I’ve developed a fine-grained dogma-filter.
With conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and the Palestinian Territories,
Syria, Nigeria, and terror attacks in the West, Islam has been
under the microscope.
One of my Facebook friends regularly asks why Islam, unlike other
organised religions, is prone to acts of violence.
For a short time, a Muslim family lived next
door. Warm, friendly, unobtrusive, they brought food over at the end of Ramadan,
they were the nicest neighbours I ever had.
In the interest of all things Hobart, This Girl took a look inside Hobart’s Mosque on
National Mosque Open Day recently.
What I found was the people I work with, shop
with and pass in the street.
And I found neighbours, friends and onlookers
wanting a look inside Hobart’s Mosque.
There’s been an Islamic presence in Australia
since the Afghan camel herders in the early days of European occupation, some
say even before this. In Hobart, there’s been a makeshift Mosque since the early seventies. The first purpose built Mosque, designed by local
architect, Michael Cooper, was constructed in 2004.
The Muslim community has come and gone from
Tasmania, often arriving for work at the hospital or in science fields and then moving on. In more recent years, the community has made Hobart their home.
Here are five things I learnt about Islam and
Hobart’s Muslim community at the open day:
for prayer gives Muslims a sense of community, unity and direction, that they
are acting together in worship.
Muslim community is the face of diversity: they hail from Fiji, Egypt,
Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon, many African countries and more.
for Ramadan, a period of controlling all your senses from dawn to dusk, you go
visit friends, ask them to forgive your transgressions and share food together.
220-250 people pray each Friday at the Mosque and they are led by the Imam, a
Hobart local for 47 years and ex-maths teacher. The Imam fielded questions from
visitors including sticky political questions probably out of the realms of
humility, generosity and justice are some of the core values of Islam.
|The Imam and members of the Lebanese Muslim community.|
This is no treatise on Islam.
There’s plenty that doesn’t make sense to me.
Like Christianity and Judaism, in Islam, all people are equal but women are still
subservient. As a visitor I was welcomed into the front of the Mosque while
women members sat in the partitioned section at the back.
We were taught Islam means peace but this is contentious, others believe
its origins comes from the word to ‘surrender’. A very different concept and one
open to interpretation personally and politically.
With its fair share of fundamentalism, the extremist byproduct is
something to be worried about and not something that the Muslim community seems
to actively advocate against. When asked why peaceful Muslims don't speak up against terror, the Imam was of the view that it's best not to draw attention to it.
It made me think of army chief Lt General David Morrison on violence against women, 'the standard you walk by is the standard you accept'. And so it is for all acts of violence.
But at Hobart’s Mosque Open Day, Hobart’s Muslim community were welcoming
and open, keen to be part of the community around them and to be seen as real people.
This Girl is all for breaking down barriers and for supporting
The people I spoke to felt accepted in Hobart and loved living here.
Thanks to the Lebanese Muslim Community for organising the day.
You can find Hobart’s Mosque at 166 Warwick Street, Hobart.
For a little Hobart Mosque history have a look here.
Media on Hobart's community: