Saturday, August 14, 2010

Thing 123 Attend Non Catholic Religious Ceremony

There's me and Imam Khalid at the Limerick Mosque. What a thing to do. This is easily the most fascinating Thing I've done, and an experience to remember.

Catholicism is in a terrible mess in this country, and one of the biggest things it's missing nowadays is community. It's only an opinion, so don't go all bible-bashing on me, but the sense of being part of a community in today's catholic church in Ireland is completely gone. Definitely not amongst Muslims in Limerick.

It's so weird to have something so alien right on your doorstep and not know anything about it. This is dreadfully parochial, but I'm completely ignorant of Islamic customs and traditions. What's mass (prayers) like for muslims? What's ramadan? Is it hard to be muslim in a catholic country? What are the dietary constraints? I get all of my news from Sky and the newspapers - which means that effectively I see the word islam in the same sentence as the word terrorist almost every single day. That's no way to learn anything about your neighbours. So I thought I'd pop around and have a chat.
Ceremony itself is weird only if you've never seen it before - context is everything. There's some standing up, some kneeling down, some bowing down, some sitting down. Not odd really when you think about it. That's pretty much mass for catholics. They pray to Allah, and the Prophet Muhammad, for guidance in their lives and for their individual needs. Again, mass for Catholics. The differences are noticeable when they walk out the door. Religion is part of everything they do. There are rules and guidelines for being a father, a son, a daughter, a mother, a brother or sister, an employer, an employee, a customer, a shopkeeper. Everything. There's one rule for catholics and it pervades everything. There's a set of rules for Muslims. It's a demanding religion, and one that requires lots of dedication and devotion.

More than one reason for that too. In the late '80's and early '90's the Islamic population in Limerick was so small that mass was said in a house in Raheen. The community was welcomed with open arms. At the time, Ireland was poor, and terrorism in Europe meant ETA or the IRA. Later in the '90's there was suspicion and abuse. We had money then, and terrorism was for muslims. This is my theory now, not the views of the Limerick Mosque or Islamic community here. I do have a dark tendency to see the worst in this country.

Nowadays the community here faces abuse regularly. It can't be pleasant. They do well though. Siege mentality does a lot for people.

That's not to say that all is rosy and commendable. There were no women present. The Imam tells me that women are not obliged to take part in prayers but they can if they want. None were there though. As our politicians are finding out these days, it's difficult to get things done properly without a certain quota of women.

And the Imam says that more can be done for the Islamic community to integrate itself locally, but they're working on that.

Still, and I mean this, it was a genuinely moving and uplifting experience. I'm not converting anytime soon, but the welcome was fantastic, and the sense of community was spectacular.

I'm hoping that we'll stay friends!


  1. Very interesting Dan - and find it pretty cool Raheen was the Muslim quarter in Limerick even though they now reside in Dooradoyle

  2. You muslims I dont understand why you find so hard to be muslim in this community. My freind you are just a little motherfucker born in Sckotland which are fucking Irish communiteies, why why why because Irish people are really nice I mean really, i mean not like English. They are the peole where you can progress in your life, is like a chance to change your life, and I mean no matter where in Ireland, includning Limerick,Mayross IS BEETER THAN ARAB WORLD. Jut to say I'm not Irish believed or not I'm muslim but this is too much. You Irish people ask why these people are here and why they thing what they thing about your religon. Be carefull this is your home and they are in your land so that means there is something that they could not have in their land because they are not treated as irish people do in Governmet, religon but indid are treated just like a little sheet. You come in this country and gets everything for free is not fair, Why the moscue is bulid in the Irish tax payers and you still have complain. World is crazy. I'm Muslim from Kosovo, I know personally the Fucker whu apperas in the picture, he make me hate Americans.