Islam In Ireland: Shia Mosque And Shia Muslims (Part 4)

Shia Muslims form a minority of ten to fifteen per cent of Muslims worldwide.



Islam In Ireland: Shia Mosque And Shia Muslims (Part 4)

The Sunnis, as the large majority, are to be found all over the world wherever Muslims are present, but the Shia are more concentrated, being the majority in Iran, Iraq and Bahrain, with substantial minorities in Lebanon, Afghanistan, India/Pakistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Yemen. Both groups have survived within the Islamic Ummah to this day and both are to be found in Ireland.

The Shia Mosque in Milltown is twenty-years-old and serves a multinational Shia community [Ahlul Bayt (AS) Islamic Centre Dublin]. Around half of those who congregate there would trace their heritage back to Iraq, which either they or an earlier generation of their family left during the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein. There is also an Iranian component to the community and a small number from India/Pakistan. Many of the older generation came via the student route for postgraduate medical and other studies. Indeed the resident scholar is doubly qualified, both as a medical doctor and also in Islamic studies. They are particularly busy for the Shia-specific events of the religious calendar and have a well-developed outreach to show a cultured and measured face of Islam to the world.

Two other Muslim centres are established in Dublin: The largest, mainstream Sunni ones, which takes on variations around the world, is represented by the Al-Mustafa Centre in Blachardstown. The largest, purpose-built Mosque and Islamic centre in Dublin is at Clonskeagh. This has a distinctly Arab culture, with many staff and the imam being native Arabic speakers, as well as many who use the Mosque. Its structure was funded by the Al-Maktoum Foundation from the United Arab Emirates, which continues to assist financially and in terms of governance. This is also associated with the European Council for Fatwa and Research, which aims to give guidance to Muslims living in Europe and whose principal Scholar, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, is located in Qatar.

Engaging with the Christian community 

Aware that the wider society does not always understand Islam and that there is a need for a collective voice, the Irish Council of Imams was founded in 2006. This is a free affiliation body that has no authorised representative voice for Muslims in Ireland but the scholars present there can bring their collective knowledge and wisdom to bear on issues. There are also joint activities with other faiths in Dublin and elsewhere, and periodic overtures to form study circles with Christian and Jewish theologians. It remains however true that the vast majority of Christians in Ireland are unaware of their relationship with their ‘cousins in the faith of Abraham’, who Vatican II said should be esteemed by Catholics for their worship of the one God.

Source: Journal of the Irish Dominicans, Doctrine and Life, Vol 65, No 9, November 2015, p.10-18, by Dr Chris Hewer.

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