09/18/2017, 14.53

‘Open Mosque Day’ in Colombo to bridge gap between Muslims and others

Melani Manel Perera

The initiative succeeded with Christians, Buddhists and Hindus. The Centre for Islamic Studies allowed guided tours of one of the capital’s historic mosques. For Buddhist monk, the visit dispelled “certain beliefs about Islamic traditions. Today many act and think badly about Muslims."

Colombo (AsiaNews) – The Centre for Islamic Studies (CIS) organised an ‘Open Mosque Day’ at Colombo’s historic Akbar Mosque in order to promote understanding and appreciate diversity.

The mosque opened its doors to Christians, Buddhists and Hindus so that they could learn about the Islamic religion and traditions in Sri Lanka, especially at a time of renewed violence against Muslims.

Venerable Diyakaduwe Somananda Thero of the Buddhist temple Baddegewaththa Viharaya spoke appreciatively of the initiative to AsiaNews.

“This is a positive effort, worthy of note,” he said. “It comes at a crucial time to dispel certain beliefs about Islamic traditions. Today many act and think badly about Muslims."

The interfaith event was very successful. In fact, Rahumananda Sharma, a Hindu priest at the Sri Karumari Amman Kovil temple in Panchikawatte said that he hopes "the CIS will organise 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."

The day was devoted to the learning Muslim values ​​and traditions, and counter some biases that are widespread among non-Muslims.

Several Buddhist and Catholic women said that "before this event we had a bad opinion about the customs that touch women and Islamic marriage. Now, however, we understand that this is part of their religion."

For example, some asked why women wear the Islamic veil. They were told that the reason is “the immense beauty of women, who must protect their body."

Participants were divided according to language: English, Tamil and Sinhalese. Everyone was taken to a guided tour, during which the guide explained the ritual of purification, i.e., the washing of hands and feet. After this, they were shown the prayer room (with separate areas for men and women) and some prayers.

Shifan Rafaideen, one of the guides, was pleased to be part of the 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."

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