Saturday, November 24, 2007

Who is my religious neighbour? Islamic Cultural Centre Part I

At the end of October, a group of students, accompanied by Sister Mary and Sister Margarida, had paid a visit to a Shi’a Islamic Centre in Kilburn, North London.

Housed in a converted, grade II listed bingo hall, the Centre is a place of study and active worship serving the local Islamic community. Whilst the main hall serves as a mosque, there is also a library, seminar rooms, baths and dining area. In front of the building, one finds a fountain, symbolical of cleanliness and life. The idea of purity is a reoccurring theme in Islam, hence it was asked of us to take off our shoes. The interior of the praying area was lavishly decorated, with oriental carpets covering the floor, contrasting geometrical designs, tiles and woodwork. Simultaneously, there had been clear signs of the past uses of this venue. At the centre, there had been the pulpit, which in the past hosted served as the stage. Above which hung a turquoise title mosaic, verses from the Quran and the names of seven most prominent prophets.
The word ‘Islam’ derives from the verb to ‘submit, accept’ in Arabic; it literally means compliance to the volition of God. The Muslim faith puts a stronger emphasis on the unitary figure of God, a just protector, whose greatness reaches beyond human comprehension. The complete devotion to God is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, the foundations on which Muslims rest their beliefs in righteous worship.
Greeted by the Imam, we were given a talk on the principles of Islam - some excerpts from which will appear over the next week or so.

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