Monday, 3 February 2014

Anti-mosque and anti-Islamic sentiments: can Islam be singled out like this?

This article has appeared in the Ballarat daily newspaper, The Courier, to-day.  Ballarat Interfaith Network was on to this early this morning and, during to-day, will work out a considered response.  This blog does not want - at this stage anyway - to give acknowledgment to this group and therefore will not name them here nor will a link be given to their website.

However, one thing this post will do is to look briefly at anti-mosque sentiment in Australia.
The Australia First Party is a well known extreme political party in Australia. More could be written about them, particularly their involvement in the Cronulla riots of 2005, but this site does not want to enter into such a discussion.  More could also said about an historic organisation with a similar name and similar prejudices. 

As for Islam in Australia, this Wikipedia site provides a diversity of information both historical and contemporary. 

The movement toward building a mosque in Ballarat has been a slow but progressive one.  Students from overseas came to the University of Ballarat where prayer facilities were established.  The small number of local residents were able to join in.  Because of the close proximity of Ballarat to Melbourne, it has also been possible for residents here to participate in mosques there.  Ballarat Muslims have held land for a while and are now moving towards the reality of a building by going through all the local government processes that everyone has to pursue.

Ballarat Interfaith Network has friendship with a number of Muslims in Ballarat.  We have also, courtesy of the Shepparton Interfaith Network, visited the mosque at Muroopna in Shepparton.

Shepparton is a diverse city and region - with four mosques.  Below is a video of that mosque and what happens there.  On our visit, we were warmly and hospitably received - and had the most beautiful lunch of Turkish food.  We were presented - without charge - with our choice of books relating to Islam.  The video below was taken from the website of the Shepparton Interfaith Network.

All religions - or, at least, a lot of religions - have those within who are 'extremist' or have other adverse characteristics.  If we were to ban or bar them from having facilities, it would be a bare landscape indeed.  Think of some of the adverse behaviours being brought to public view from within some Christian denominations and cultures at this time.

There are many beautiful and wondrous things within Islam.  They are worth exploring.  One particular Islamic contribution is being seriously explored these days by many outside Islam. It is Islamic finance and banking.  The Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) have prohibitions against usury.  Judaism and Christianity have 'fallen by the wayside' in a manner of speaking on this topic and its adherents do get involved with financial transactions involving the charging of interest.  Islam is the one 'hold-out' on this and, in this era of ever-diverse financial products, there is currently widening interest  - even from main-stream banking organisations - in Islamic finance.

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