A Muslim centre in Sri Lanka recently dedicated a day people of other faiths to help them learn about Islam in a nation that is witnessing renewed violence against Muslim. The Centre for Islamic Studies (CIS) organized an ‘Open Mosque Day’ at Colombo’s historic Akbar Mosque in order to promote understanding and appreciate diversity. Christians, Buddhists and Hindus could visit the centre to learn about the Islamic religion and traditions in Sri Lanka.
Bridging the gap
“This is a positive effort, worthy of note,” noted Venerable Diyakaduwe Somananda Thero of the Buddhist temple Baddegewaththa Viharaya after visiting the CIS. “It comes at a crucial time to dispel certain misconceptions about Islamic traditions,” he told AsiaNews. “Today many act and think badly about Muslims."
Hindu priest, Rahumananda Sharma from the Sri Karumari Amman Kovil temple in Panchikawatte was equally positive about the CIS initiative. He hoped "the CIS will organize guided tours in other mosques.” “All of the nation's population should have the opportunity to participate in events like this. This is very important," he told AsiaNews.
The ‘Open Mosque Day’ was devoted to learning about Muslim values and traditions, and countering bias among non-Muslims.
Several Buddhist and Catholic women observed that earlier they had wrong ideas about Muslim customs on women and marriage. “Now, however, we understand that this is part of their religion." When they asked about why women wore the Islamic veil, they were told it is “the immense beauty of women, who must protect their body."
Participants were divided according to English, Tamil and Sinhalese language groups with a guide each. The visitors were explained the purification rite of the washing of hands and feet, shown the prayer room (with separate areas for men and women) and some prayers.
Shifan Rafaideen, one of the guides, was pleased with the CIS initiative. "As a Muslim, it is important to participate in the process of raising awareness. Giving the right information and eliminating biases is the greatest work a Muslim can do," Rafaideen added. (Source: AsiaNews)