It’s been Islam Awareness Week, culminating yesterday with an Open Day at the mosque here in Kilbirnie. I don’t care much for organised religions but given recent events with acts of terror in various parts of the world and the disturbing recent attacks on mosques here in New Zealand, it seemed a good opportunity to go and learn something new.
We visited briefly and were welcomed, along with hundreds of others, by charming hosts. A number of people wearing name tags graciously showed us around, answering our questions with sincerity and patience. Posters and leaflets explained facts about Islam, including its attitudes towards violence and peace. I was quite taken with some verses of the Quran which were written out in English and posted on the walls beneath various art works (which may well have been the same verses in a script I couldn’t read). I also enjoyed the angular and geometric patterns which abounded.
The terrorist acts which have recently shocked and shaken the western world are doubtless sparked by complex attitudes and emotions. I doubt they will be easily resolved. It seems to me though that one step we need to take is to overcome the temptation to simplistically meet that violence with escalated violence of our own. To simply hate those who are “other” and to blame a whole group for the actions of a sub-group is not a mature response.
I commend the local Islam community for opening their mosque to visitors. Each step towards greater understanding of others is a step away from violence and terrorism.