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Open Weekend 04

Based on email received at musalla.org

Open weekend: The weekend of 11th and 12th September 2004 proved to be a hectic weekend for the Central Scotland Islamic Centre. The doors were opened for the public from 10am til 4pm over the weekend. Member of the public could come and look around the Islamic Centre and also speak to members of the Muslim community.

This opportunity seemed to be very popular with Stirling with people from all faiths and backgrounds attending the Mosque. There was a steady procession of people on the first day as people entered and wandered through the centre. Sunday proved to be the busiest day with over a hundred people attending the centre.

Suprised: The centre had many surprises for a lot of people, including me. Many people come with a preconceived notion that they will be seeing an expensive, well-decorated centre with gold statues and many other eastern touches. However, the Islamic centre is decorated beautifully but it is a very simply building and is not adorned with any such extravagances. It seemed more like a place that was practical and well used rather than a showpiece building used for show and demonstration.

Monotheism: There are no statues or pictures of people or 'gods' in the building that was a surprise to many. Islam is a monotheistic religion, which does not have any iconism. It is a pure monotheistic religion, which forbids statues and pictures- after all Muslims believe that God or Allah is not like anything we see or imagine.

The other great surprise was that the principles in Islam share many common characteristics as Judaism and Christianity. Muslims believe in 124,000 prophets of which Jesus, Moses, David and Abraham are all prophet of God almighty. Jesus may be loved and respected in Christianity as the son of God but in Islam Jesus is loved and respected as a prophet of God - their highest status that any human being can ever given. Muslims also believe in the miraculous birth of Jesus as well as many miracles performed by Jesus.

Spirituality: The moral values of Islam, which promotes a health and spiritually prosperous society, were aspects with which many people related to. There were many discussions about the decaying moral fibre of society and the role religions and spirituality has to play to stem this tide! There were common goals and concerns shared by the prevalent religions in Stirling.

Guided tours: The people who came in out of pure curiosity were given a guided tour of the centre. Here they were invited to ask questions throughout the short tours where different aspects of the Muslim faith were shown. It was a breath of fresh air to hear about Islam from the mouths of practicing Muslims who demonstrated a profound love for their way of life. This was in stark contrast to the images and ideas promoted by the ruthless media who often demonise Islam and portray it in a negative manner. The actual reality and the virtual reality portrayed by the media seemed like opposite side of the coin to any impartial observer at the tour.

The main community hall held a presentation of the many aspects of the Muslim faith and of the Muslim communities throughout the world. Here people were allowed to wander around and learn about the Muslim faith. There was also a bookstall, literature and the Imam to answer any further questions.

Relaxed: If this sounds hectic, there was a seating area where you could take the load off your feet and relax with a chat, a cup of tea and some biscuits. The whole event was a valuable insight into Islam for which we are grateful. We suggest that this was a great event which needs to be repeated often. Hats off to the guides and the Imam for all their time, patience and effort throughout this weekend. This was a great community event where many misconceptions were cleared up and many bridges built.

Thanks also to Stirling Heritage for their wisdom in including the Islamic centre along with the many religious buildings of our great city. Well done all round.

Stirling@musalla.org