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Interview with Bilal 3

13 June, 2003 4:19 PM

This is the last part of my interview with my Muslim friend, Bilal. Here is Part 1 and Part 2

What social responsibilities does your faith leave you with?
One of the main pillars of Islam is Zakah (or charity) in which we give financially so that those who are less well off. Whilst I do not personally have any involvement with the distribution of this money I believe through my giving that I am having a positive impact upon the wider community.

I also feel I have the responsibility to care for my family as a result of my faith. Family is central to my belief. I did not leave home until I married and even after doing so remain close to my family. As my dad gets older my responsibility for caring for him grows. At some point in the future he will probably move into our home so that we will care for him.

Our Mosque is also proactive about getting involved in the wider community. We annually have an open day where people can come and receive a tour through our buildings, eat our food, hear about our prayer and ask questions. Last year we had thousands of people through over the day. We also take part in local community days, sometimes even working with local churches to put them on. These are very important to us, especially with the current focus on Islam. We try to debunk myths that people think apply to us.

What is it like being part of a minority group here in Australia?
In recent times being a Muslim in this country has become more difficult. I personally have not been persecuted but others from the Mosque, especially some of the women, have been on the receiving end of comments and threats in the street. The media is mixed in their portrayal of Muslim people, it concerns me that at times we are portrayed with sweeping statements and generalisation.

Up until the latest renewed focus on Islam I had not had much feeling of being ostracized from the rest of my wider community.

The other issues for me are the normal problems of finding time and space to pray and a few dietary considerations as living in a society that is so preoccupied with sexually loose morals. This was difficult for me growing up especially as a teenage boy.

What are the main misconceptions people have about Islam and Muslims?
I think the general population does not misunderstand us. There are a few stereotypes that come out in the media from time to time though. The big one is that all Muslims are violent terrorists and extremists. Others are that we oppress women and that we are all Arabs who are intolerant of other people's faiths. In my opinion none of these are true.

What is your view on how Islam values women?
We value women very highly. They are individuals with rights and responsibilities like I have. Both men and women are supposed to dress modestly and behave appropriately. Some of our female friends choose to ear the veil and do so not because they are forced to but rather because they find it actually brings freedom from having to conform to the way our society expects women to behave. My wife makes decisions for herself, she works, she socialises and she is my equal.

Comments

Page:

Thanks for these three posts, Darren. Having worked in an area which has many Muslims, I had soe experience of both good and bad. This has been good to hear the ideas and values of an "ordinary" person. I've appreciated it.
Shalom
Jan

Jan » 13 June, 2003 5:11 PM

Thanks for this series. Has been really good!!

Rachel F » 14 June, 2003 1:47 PM

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