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The Muslim community in Ireland

The Muslim community in Ireland



by Robbie Sloan

Muslims began arriving in Ireland in the early 1950s according to our records, mainly as students. There does exist proof however of visits by Muslim trading ships to Irish ports a long time before the 1950s. Some Muslim scholars actually wrote of their visits to Ireland a long time ago, i.e. the first Muslim organisation in Ireland, the Dublin Islamic Society, was formed in 1959 by a group of Muslim students. The society was registered as a friendly society in 1971 and later as a charitable organisation. Over the years, the membership has increased and many Muslims have become permanent residents of Ireland.

In view of the ever increasing size of the Muslim community, the Dublin Islamic Society recognised the need for a permanent mosque and Islamic Centre. An appeal was made for this purpose and a building (at 7 Harrington Street, Dublin 8) was bought to house the first Mosque in Ireland.

During the 1980s the community continued to grow and a larger mosque was soon needed, and so the present mosque, at 163 South Circular Road, Dublin 8, was acquired in 1983. The Dublin Islamic Centre is run by the Islamic Foundation of Ireland (I.F.I.). IFI is the official representative of Muslims in Ireland and its membership is open for all Muslims.

In parallel with the growth of the Muslim community in Dublin, other communities began to establish their places of worship (Mosques). Many Muslims began to open their own business's i.e. Halal food stores. Ireland henceforth started to feel the presence of Islam. In 1996 the first Muslim TD (Member of Parliament), Mr Moosaje Bhamjee, was elected. It is fair to say that the Muslim community of Ireland did not play any role in him being elected, only his own role in Irish politics did.

However, the rate of increase of the Muslim population has been so great that the mosque facilities at South Circular Road became too small for the numbers. In 1992, the Maktoum family, who are the ruling family of Dubai, generously (by the grace of Allah) agreed to fund new facilities for the Islamic community in Dublin. A four-acre site was purchased, which conveniently had an existing single storey-training centre which was originally designed as a primary school. This was converted back to its original use in 1993. In September 1996, the work on the new mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre was completed at 19 Roebuck Road, Clonskeagh, Dublin 14.

The Islamic Cultural Centre not only offers facilities for daily prayers and religious celebrations, but also for education and the general welfare of the community including a Muslim National School, a library, a shop and restaurant. The Mosque situated on the South Circular Road also incorporates a library, a shop, a restaurant and a Sunday school for Islamic teachings.

Both Centres also contribute to breaking down the barriers and encouraging mutual understanding between the Muslims and the Irish public. The heightened awareness in recent years of Islam and Muslims meant that the Centres became a source of information on Islam and Muslim countries.

The Islamic Cultural Centre
The Islamic Cultural Centre is the platform for all Muslims to meet and participate in activities designed to enhance, preserve and represent the Islamic way of life. The Centre is open to all the public to build bridges of mutual understanding and respect between Irish society, and Muslims. Of course there are some religious and educational activities intended for Muslims, but at the same time our doors and hearts are open at all times for our non-Muslim friends. People are welcome to visit the ICC, enjoy the services and participate in public activities. We will always be open to suggestions regarding possible new activities and services, or possibly improving the existing ones.

History of Islam
Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy and forgiveness. The word Islam although meaning 'submission' derives from a word meaning 'peace'. Allah revealed through the Angel Gabriel to the prophet Mohammed (PBUH) His Holy Book, "The Holy Quran", it was written down by scribes who cross-checked it during the lifetime of the prophet Mohammed (PBUH). The Quran is preserved till this day in its original text.

 Some facts about Islam
Freedom of conscience is stated in the Quran "There is no compulsion in religion".

The life and property of all citizens in Islam are considered sacred whether a person is Muslim or not.

Racism is incomprehensible to Muslims, the Quran speaks of human equality.

Muslims believe that the present life is only a trial preparation for the next life.

A Muslim marriage is not a 'sacrament' but a simple, legal agreement in which either partner is free to include conditions.

The family is the foundation of Islamic society.

A Mosque is essentially a sacred place meant for congregational prayers, but it can be used as a centre for education, social welfare and decisions of matters according to Islamic law. The sanctity of a Mosque is preserved in Islam, the building of a Mosque and its contents is consecrated in the name of Allah.

In an extract from " A Collection of Writings of Some of the Eminent Scholars" P.77 Published 1935. The late George Bernard Shaw says:

"I have always held the religion of Mohammed in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to possess assimilating capability to the changing phases of existence which can make itself appeal to every age."

"I have prophesied about the faith of Mohammed that it would be as acceptable tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today. Medieval ecclesiastic, either through their ignorance of bigotry, painted Mohammedanism' in the darkest colours. They were, in fact, trained to hate both the man Mohammed and his religion. To them Mohammed was an anti-Christ. I have studied him, the wonderful man, and in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ he must be called the saviour of humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world he would succeed in solving the problems in a way that would bring it much needed peace and happiness. Europe is beginning to be enamoured of the creed of Mohammed. In the next century it may go still further in recognising the utility of that creed in solving its problems, and it is in this sense that you must understand my prediction."

 Mosques and Islamic Centres in Ireland
Islamic Foundation of Ireland. 163 South Circular Road Dublin 8
Tel:01 4533242 Fax:01 4532785

 Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland.
19 Roebuck Road Clonskeagh Dublin 14
Tel:01 2080000 Fax:01 2080001

 Ballyhaunis Mosque. Clare Road, Ballyhaunis County Mayo.
Cork Islamic Centre. 69 Riverview Estate Clashduv Road Cork.

 Galway Islamic Centre.
13 Sandyview Drive Riverside, Galway.

Limerick Islamic Islamic Cultural Centre.
Old Dooradoyl Road, Limerick.

Published by: Local Ireland
Year written: 1999
Copyright owned by: Local Ireland