Opening door to dialogue

Opening door to dialogue Welcome: Open day organising committee members Sadaf Zia and Forugh Dorani with their daughters Ambar and Yusra. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
Nanjing Night Net

Scenes from the open day at Wallsend Mosque in 2015. Syyada Faheem, left, has her hand decorated by Khadiza Zaman. Picture: Marina Neil

Scenes from the open day at Wallsend Mosque in 2015. Picture: Marina Neil

Scenes from the open day at Wallsend Mosque in 2015. Picture: Marina Neil

Scenes from the open day at Wallsend Mosque in 2015. Picture: Marina Neil

Scenes from the open day at Wallsend Mosque in 2015. Picture: Marina Neil

Scenes from the open day at Wallsend Mosque in 2015. Picture: Marina Neil

Scenes from the open day at Wallsend Mosque in 2015. Picture: Marina Neil

Scenes from the open day at Wallsend Mosque in 2015. Picture: Marina Neil

Scenes from the open day at Wallsend Mosque in 2015. Visitors enjoy Saudi chai tea. Picture: Marina Neil

Scenes from the open day at Wallsend Mosque in 2015. Visitors enjoy Saudi chai tea. Picture: Marina Neil

Scenes from the open day at Wallsend Mosque in 2015. Syyada Faheem, left, has her hand decorated by Khadiza Zaman. Picture: Marina Neil

Scenes from the open day at Wallsend Mosque in 2015. Picture: Marina Neil

Scenes from the open day at Wallsend Mosque in 2015. Picture: Marina Neil

TweetFacebookFOR Forugh Dorani, Islam often seems to be the most misunderstood religion in the world.

Mr Dorani is the secretary and programs director at The Islamic Centre Newcastle, which includes theSultan Fatih Mosque atMayfield, and has borne the brunt ofsome “very interesting” comments about his faith.

“One person told me that Muslims burn the bodies of their dead and that’s whythey didn’t want Muslims as neighbours,” he said.

Cremation is actually forbidden in Islam.

“I asked them ‘Don’t you have Google at home?’, sort of as a joke,” he said.

“It’s really a mixed feeling, you try and be funny about it and laugh, but at the same time it can hurt.”

Still, Mr Dorani said hewelcomes “both gentle and harsh” questions about Islam.

“A lot of people have never met a Muslim before,” he said.“We wish you knew the truth about us.

“We want to give peoplean opportunity to engage with us, to ask us – rather than listen to incorrect information in the media –to see who we are, what we do and how we practice our religion.

“We believe with further education we can build that community conversation.”

The Islamic Centre is participating for the third time in National Mosque Open Day on Saturday, which comes at the end of theNational Week of Unity.

Mr Dorani said visitors from 10am can expect to participate in question and answer sessions andguided tours and receive food andinformation packs.

He said no question was off the table.

“We are very open –we get the most simple to the most controversial questions, from how often do you pray to why do Muslims kill non-Muslims in other parts of the world?” he said.

“Conversations always shift in the the direction of terrorism and mosques being associated with acts of terror.

“In fact, mosques are places of knowledge.

“It’s people who are not engaged with their religion and never go for learning who are more likely to be sucked in by radical groups, whichcombine with other environmental factors like marginalisation.”

Mr Dorani said between 300 and 500people attended the mosque each week for Friday prayers.

“We’re doctors, lawyers, public servants, we contribute to society just like everyone else,” he said.

“We have barbecues on the weekend, we take our kids to the park.

“We enjoy the peace and harmony, the love and beauty of this country just like any other person.

“Hopefully soon –or the next generation – there will be a better understanding of Muslims in general in Australia.”