Now in its fourth year, the National Mosque Open Day was held on Saturday 28 October 2017.
This is a nationally coordinated event where mosques in all states open their doors to all Australians from various faiths and no faith to showcase Islam in theory and practice.
There are information displays, tours, Q&A sessions, fun activities for kids, big and small and mingling of people from diverse background and faiths in order to break down barriers.
This year’s event featured several mosques across the nation who simultaneously opened their doors to the public and invited them to come in and explore their local mosque.
At Imam Ali Mosque in Lakemba, a young man asked questions surrounding whether the Islamic rulings of inheritance were still applicable today given the nature of gender roles in modern day society.
The annual nationwide event is supported by the Lebanese Muslim Association and the Department of Social Services, promoting cohesion within communities and clarifying misconceptions.
The day was also part of the National Day of Unity on 31 October when Australians are encouraged to contribute to greater harmony in society.
According to one of the organisers of the Garden City Mosque, Professor Shahjahan Khan, the open day in Toowoomba was not about religion, but about bringing people together to enjoy each other’s company.
Acting president of The Islamic Centre of Newcastle (which includes the Sultan Fatih Mosque), Forugh Dorani noticed a major change since the open day started.
“Our relationship with the wider community, our neighbours and different faith groups has improved – and is now at a high,” said Mr Dorani.
“A couple of years ago we had people asking us about Al Qaeda and ISIS, but it’s shifted away from that,” he further added.
“There is fear of the unknown, but this is bringing attention to the fact that Muslims are your next door neighbour, pharmacists, GP’s, fixing your roads, the shopkeepers you buy kebabs from,” he said.
While mosques are open all year round, many non-Muslim Australians are unaware of this fact and do not take the opportunity to meet local Muslims and find answers to their questions about Islam.
On National Mosque Open Day, each participating mosque presented a unique experience and flavour, representing the particular multicultural make-up of its congregation.
Some mosques had BBQs, sweets and food, activities for children and as well as special exhibitions including distribution of books and information leaflets.
With traditional food, jumping castles, there was also an opportunity for members of the community to ask questions of the mosque’s religious leaders to find out what a mosque is and what Islam and Muslims are really like.
National Mosque Open day is held in mosques all around Australia, in capital cities as well as in regional towns, giving more Australians more than ever the chance to visit and be welcomed into their local mosques.
The mosques this year taking part in the National Mosque Open Day included Lakemba Mosque, Cabramatta Mosque, Young Mosque, Qaker’s Hill Mosque, Sultan Fatih Mosque (NSW), Rockhampton Mosque, Cairns Mosque, Garden City Mosque (QLD), Hobart Mosque (TAS), Al Khalil Mosque (SA) and Perth Mosque (WA).