Islam in Ireland: The story of kindness and friendship

World Contributor
Opinion
Islam in Ireland
Dublin, Ireland: The Famine Memorial, Sculptures dedicated to the Great Famine. On the banks of the River Liffey. © Tomasz Wozniak | Dreamstime.com

At present, Islam can claim to be the third-largest religion in Ireland. In fact, in a world where being a Muslim can sometimes single you out, Ireland is a safe place. Rather, Ireland is a normal place that respects our religion. If you are a Muslim and you want to visit Ireland, you will encounter no major problems on your journey.

Historically, Islam in Ireland dates back to the 1950s. But the earliest mention of Islamic Ireland is found in the works of Al-Idrisi. He names Ireland as Irlandah-al-Kabirah. It is said that the Arab merchants visited the country frequently.

In the middle of the 19th century, Ireland was almost destroyed by ‘The great hunger’ famine. At that time, foreign aid saved the country. One of the most generous and noteworthy donors was the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Mejid. Who initially paid £10,000 to help Ireland.

To respect this act of kindness towards their country, the Mayor of Drogheda, Alderman Frank Godfrey paid tribute to Caliph Abdel Mejid. In May 1995 he erected a plaque in his honor.

The first establishment of Islamic society

One thing you have to remember that Irish Muslims have various ethnic backgrounds. That makes religion more interesting. The first establishment of the Islamic society happened in 1959. It was formed by Muslim students studying in Ireland. It was called Dublin Islamic society at first, later it was named ‘The Islamic Foundation of Ireland’.

The primary problem of the Muslim students was that there were no mosques. They had to pray in-home or rented halls for Jummah and Eid. So, the first initiative of this Islamic society was to build a mosque. In the year 1976, the first mosque along with an Islamic center was built at 7 Harrington street. It was a four storey building. Even King Faisal of Saudi Arabia donated to the mosque. In 1981, Kuwait hired a full-time imam for the Muslim students of Ireland. Later, in 1983, the Dublin mosque was shifted to 163 South Circular road as the location was more beautiful and pious.

As the influence of the Muslims increased, in the year 1992, Moosajee Bhamjee became the first and only Muslim member of the Irish Parliament.

The Muslim Community of Ireland

The Islamic community of Ireland is diverse and growing fast. The difference between other European countries and Ireland is, here maximum Muslims are citizens or converts. Immigrant Muslims are low in number. Currently, 65000 Muslims have inhabited Ireland, this makes Islam the third-largest religion after Catholicism.

Maximum of the population lives in Dublin and nearly half of them are Irish citizens. The Islamic community of this country is divided into four main groups-

Sunni

Shia

Sufi

Ahmadiyya.

Their ancestors mainly came from Pakistan, India, Nigeria, Sudan, Turkey, Iraq, and so on.

According to social scientists, the Irish Muslim community originally consisted of medical staff and university students. Then slowly Lebanese, Indian and Pakistani restaurant business took place. The Islamic community religiously follows the five pillars of Islam. Moreover, they take part in a lot of social works.

The mosque and the community help the homeless in Dublin and Cork. They set up a soup kitchen for them, especially in winter. They have the policy of never turning away someone who is asking for help. The Mosques are often open for everyone, and if any non-Muslim wants to know about Islam, the imams are happy to help. In fact, the imams actually encourage tolerance and friendship between different cultures and faiths.

Recent right-winged opinions

Despite, the progress and steps that have been taken to fight Islamophobia in European society, some people continue to promote misinformed ideas. Though the Government takes necessary steps, sometimes the Muslims feel threatened.

For example, a certain person named James McConnel who is a Christian Pastor claimed that Islam is Satanic and Heathen. He also called our religion a doctrine spawned in hell. His ideas are born out of sheer ignorance. If he had the tolerance to know how Ireland and Islam are intertwined, he would have refrained from making these comments.

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