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Islam In Italy – Milano Muslims share faith in their historic city

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In February 2015, a video of a student in Milan, Italy, dressed in traditional Arab clothing went viral after the person suffered a string of derogatory comments, as he walked around the historic city holding a Qur’an in one hand and prayer beads in another, as part of a social experiment.

While passing through an indoor shopping piazza, someone could be heard saying “s***, have you seen the ISIS?” A man standing at a tram stop makes the remark: “Look, he has got the Qur’an. Think he’s got a gun under his tunic?” Even more disturbingly, a woman pushing a pram with a baby seems to turn around as he walks by her to shout: “Taliban!”

The comments are indicative of the levels of Islamophobia and racism that Muslims and those from other ethnicities encounter in Italy. [1]

In light of this and other such incidents, Muslims need to become vocal advocates of their faith. This entails the importance of engaging the community in peaceful dialogue, and discussion about Islam to counter such views and stereotypes.

Accordingly, the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) reached out to the Muslim community of Milan to offer assistance and training in how to share the message of Islam with their fellow citizens.

On Friday 13th March 2015, iERA instructors, Subboor Ahmad and Salahuddin Patel travelled to Milan for a two day outreach event. This consisted of a workshop on how to share the foundations of Islam in a clear and concise manner, and a practical day of engaging the local population in dialogue and conversations about Islam. The aim of these activities was to build bridges of understanding between communities, and address misconceptions they may have had about Islam and Muslims.

The weekend activities kicked off with a talk at a local mosque in Milan about the importance of dawah, the greatness of Allah ﷻ, and why we should convey the message of Islam with those around us. The talk was well attended by Muslims, some of whom had travelled across Italy to Milan for the sole purpose of attending the programme.

On Saturday 14th March, the first ever dawah training course took place at the oldest mosque in Italy, the Moschea di Segrate, also known as Masjid al-Rahmàn or Mosque of The Merciful [2] delivered by Subboor Ahmad, and translated into Italian by Usama Abul Asad. The attendees quickly grasped iERAs trademark GORAP [3] conversation framework and practiced their dialogues in earnest.

On Sunday 15th March, the local Milanese Muslims were ready to take to the streets of their historic city to convey the message of Islam. Wearing ‘Who Do You Love?’ t-shirts, which are designed to be conversation starters, and distributing Italian books and leaflets about Islam, they put their newly learned dawah skills into practice at the iconic Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie. [4]

iERA instructor, Salahuddin Patel, commented how heartwarming it was to see people from all over Italy coming to Milan, staying together at the masjid, all with the intention of sharing the reason why they are Muslim and believe in Islam with their fellow citizens.

Following on from this weekend of activities, the ‘Italian Dawah Network’ [5] was created on Facebook with at present more than 4,000 people joining the page as part of the movement. iERA will continue to empower and develop the team in Milan and others across Italy as the network expands.

Milano Muslims will be taking part in iERAs ‘Global Messenger Day’ on Saturday 16th May 2015, along with thousands of Muslims from over 50 countries, all coming together to highlight why we as Muslims, love the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace)

To arrange a ‘Who Do You Love?’ dawah outreach activity in your town or city please email [email protected]

Register for your local cities ‘Global Messenger Day’ by going to iera.org/campaigns/who-do-you-love

Footnotes:

[1] Islam in Italy: Muslim with traditional clothes and Koran insulted and shouted at in Milan

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/islam-in-italy-muslim-with-traditional-clothes-and-koran-insulted-and-shouted-at-in-milan-10056246.html

[2] The Mosque of Segrate (Italian: Moschea di Segrate), also known as Masjid al-Rahmàn or Mosque of the Merciful, is a mosque in Segrate, Italy, located on the border to the Milano Due suburb.

It was the first mosque with a dome and minaret to be built in Italy after the demolition of the last mosques in Lucera in 1300. The mosque opened on 28 May 1988, and it has been, ever since, Milan’s most important mosque and the second-most important mosque in Italy after that of Rome.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosque_of_Segrate

[3] GORAP is a conversation framework that stands for Gods Existence, Oneness, Revelation and Prophethood. Learn more at https://iera.org/dawah/give-dawah

[4] See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBGagY_E3vU

[5] See https://www.facebook.com/ItalianDawahNetwork