By Caroline Maina
“Building Interfaith Bridges” is a partnership project between IRCK and US Marafiki in Nairobi and Mombasa Counties. The project seeks to increase respect and protection for religious minorities by strengthening, sensitizing, educating as well as connecting duty bearers to claim holders at County and National levels.
On 5th March, 2020 IRCK organized a “welcoming the other “activity which was held at Jamia Mosque, Nairobi. There were 30 interfaith youths from across the County, who were joined by 2 representatives from the US Embassy. The activity aimed at demystifying practices and traditions among faith groups and also in promoting inter-religious tolerance, harmony and relations among distinct faith groups.
All the female youths dressed in “long dresses” and “hijabs” which is the modest dressing way of the Islam. Inset is a photo of the participants during the event dressed for the welcoming the other activity.
Highlights on Islam beliefs and Practices
There was an open session led by Jamia Mosque Imam on Islam beliefs as well as how Jamia Mosque handles interfaith relations with other faith communities. The youths had an opportunity of engaging with the Imam about interfaith and the Islamic faith. The youths were oriented on how the call to prayer is done by the Sheikh before the onset of the prayers with the ‘Allahu Akbar meaning God is the greatest” call. The deputy Imam informed them that Muslims pray 5 times a day which amounts to 50 minutes of prayers daily. The youths were taken through the Muslims ablution process of cleansing. They were empowered on the 5 way cleansing procedure that each Muslim has to undertake before prayers. All Muslim men are obliged to pray 5 times a day at the Mosque; for the women, it’s not mandatory, they are exempted and can pray from the comfort of their homes.
The welcoming the other event played a key role in demystifying some beliefs towards the Islam religion. This changed the perception of youths from other faith communities on how they perceive the Islam religion. The Islam participants were also advised not to view the non-Muslims as “Kafirs” since we all believe in one God “Allah” and one Jesus. The deputy Imam further emphasized on the fact that any Muslim who doesn’t believe in “Jesus” is no Muslim, this is because similar to all other prophets, Jesus is also a key prophet in Islam.
Interfaith dialogues with members from other faith communities are held at Jamia Mosque as a way of strengthening interfaith relations and tolerance. This has a key role in shaping how members from other faiths perceive the Muslims and vice versa.