Holland: Islam is blossoming

Across the Netherlands, Koran and Islam lessons are picking up steam. I think this article is interesting, as it’s not only talking about the Muslim minority finding its identity, but about it becoming stricter in their interpretation of Muslim law.

Hunger for the Koran

About 80 women, veiled from head to toe, sit on the ground in the women’s’ section of the Al-Furqan mosque in Eindhoven. They listen attentively and some take notes. The voice of Abu Ismail, who is lecturing about the duties of Allah, is heard through the microphone. The women, wearing brown and black robes, do not see him; he speaks in the nearby men’s’ section.
Just before the lecture, the women, for the 3rd time that day, witnessed a conversion of a Dutch Muslim women. When they gave testimony, some women burst into tears. “It’s so beautiful,” sobbed a 28 year old Moroccan, “Islam is under so much oppression and now again there’s somebody who understands us.”

The hunger for Islam and the Koran is increasing. Koran lessons and lectures which just a few years ago were limited to several mosques in the big cities are now being given all over the country, in community centers or mosques, Koran lessons and lectures are being held in Dutch. Kids flock to attend the meetings. Now that Islam is being criticized so harshly, they want to know what their belief involves.

“We’re Muslim from birth, but we’ve learnt little from out parents,” Says Annas, AKA Abu Ibrahim, that goes to Tilbug for lectures. “We want to know from where the observances come, thus we consult the source and that is the Koran. Our parents were satisfied with the knowledge they got from their ancestors.” And so, according to Annas, the first generation doesn’t know that you may not shake women’s’ hands, except for your sister, mother or aunt.

“They think we’re rigid and extreme, but they know nothing about it.”A 25 year old veiled social worker leans against the wall in the Eindhoven Al-Furqan mosque. She has not been a practicing Muslim for long. Just as many others she has gone into Islam due to all the negative stories in the media and politics. “I wanted to see if it was true, what everybody was saying about us”. But the contrary turned out to be true. She uncovered the charm of Islam and feels as never before that she’s been absorbed into a big family. Here Muslims can be themselves and go around wearing what they want without weird looks. “Many people think that we are turning away from Dutch society, but that is not so. We have been born here and do everything just in Dutch.”

The later is also one of the reasons why the lectures are so popular: they’re given in Dutch. Most 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants do not speak Arabic.

The demand for Dutch speakers is enormous, says the lecturer Jamal Ahajjaj (abu Ismail), 31, in de As-Soennah Mosque, after finishing up a 6 hour prayer with about 100 other Muslims. He is dressed in traditional white and does not shake hands with women.
He is extremely busy in the evenings and during the weekend giving lectures throughout the area. The interest of the kids is so great that there is a shortage of speakers that are fluent in both Arabic and Dutch. It’s indispensable to be able to read the Koran and to take it then further.

He also things that many kids are attracted to Islam because of the many negative stories they hear about it. They’re looking for their indentity. Internet and lectures help with it. “Sometimes they live at first freely and then they realize through time that they are missing something. Islam gives inner satisfaction.”

Kids wrestle with questions about daily life in a land they experience more and more as hostile to Muslims. Abu Ismail: I say that we first need to better our image because they are still many ignorant criminal brothers. And that we must be patient because we are being tested by Allah. I advise people to move when it becomes impossible for a Muslims to admit his religion: If women can’t wear a veil any more and men must shave off their beards.

Source: Nederlands Dagblad (Dutch)


Kiddo said...

That is indeed a disturbing article. I see the same sort of reports in the UK and US. Usually, however, I find them in publications by muslim groups or in only the most liberal media venues. Cultural Identity is being questioned by the West in general these days, and Islam wants desperately to be the answer.
I fight this effort any way that I can.

Wonderful site, by the way, I'm very happy to have found it! Of course, I am a bit preoccupied with all things Dutch it seems. At any rate, keep up the good work!

Mohammed Is A Woman, Peace Be Upon Her said...

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