Muslim communities in Mareeba and Cairns welcomed dozens of people from outside the Islamic faith into their mosques as part of National Mosque Open Day on Saturday.
Imam of the Mareeba mosque, Benjamin Murat said the purpose of the open day event was to dispel misconceptions about Muslims and allow people to have their questions about the Islamic faith answered.
“People seem to have this perception of fear and seem to think we’re some sort of foreign body when it comes to humanity, and these are quite incorrect,” he said.
Imam Murat said media attention on radical factions of Islam was of concern to members of far north Queensland’s Muslim community.
“No-one likes to hear untruths and misconceptions about their particular belief and we’re no different,” he said.
“We’re human beings and we get hurt because they’re not true, they’re not the representation of Islam as we know it — balanced Islam.”
Throughout the day, Imam Murat fielded questions from the general public about Islam, explaining why Muslim men grow beards and Muslim women cover themselves with headscarves.
He drew comparisons with people who modified their appearance in-line with icons of popular culture like Elvis Presley and The Beatles.
“When people loved their music and loved what they represented, you saw them wearing the same style of hair and the style of clothes they were wearing,” he said.
“When you love [the prophet Muhammad], what he represents to you and the example of life he has given us — if he says to wear a beard, I will wear a beard.
“And if he says to wear clothes that are modest in appearance to cover certain areas of your body then we will do that.
“It’s no different to the [Catholic] nuns … they were fully covered and their hair was fully covered, similar to the Muslim ladies do today with the hijab.”
Imam Waseem Jappie said the National Mosque Open Day in Cairns was a great success.
He hoped people had gone home with a greater appreciation of what far north Queensland’s Muslim community stood for.
“I hope, God willing, that the message got across to people; that they realise who we are as Muslims and that we are a peaceful people,” he said.
“I think — very importantly — people want to see how Muslims are with one another, how their kids are, how the kids play.
“It is important for people to see that we’re not some weird cult or something.”
During the open day event, Imam Jappie was asked many questions about Islam and the intentions of practising Muslims.
He said one person raised concerns about the influence of Islam in Australia and asked him if it was their objective to take over the country.
“I don’t have time for things like that — why would one even think of doing something like that,” he said.
“I’m interested in myself and my community as to how we can best serve God.
“That’s our duty in this world, to do this and teach one another how to do this. That’s our duty.”
Source: ABC Australia