A Little Mosque in Switzerland

Category: Europe, Faith & Spirituality Topics: Interfaith, Islam, Switzerland Views: 14230
14230

A few weeks ago the Cihan news agency reported a story about a debate in Switzerland over the construction of a minaret in Langenthal. 

Penguins
The Islamic cultural centre in Langenthal, 
Switzerland,  that has been prevented from 
building a minaret.

According to the story Muslims using an old paint factory for worship asked permission from the local administration to build a five-meter minaret on the roof of the factory. After the local administration approved, people began to speak out. Claiming that minarets are not necessary for worship, the Swiss People's Party, a right-wing group holding a majority in the country's parliament, launched a campaign to ban minarets. They tried to collect signatures for a general referendum on the ban, but the Berne administration cancelled the campaign indefinitely. 

Oskar Freysinger from the Swiss People's Party said, "If you want to live here, you have to accept our laws. Otherwise go back to your country." Some Cabinet ministers opposed this campaign, taking into consideration the possibility that it could anger Muslims. According to one Swiss newspaper, 43 percent of the population there is "against minarets". 

Penguins
The church tower of Katarina Kyrka and 
the minaret of the Mosque of in Stockholm.

Although the terms "multi-cultural" and "coexistence" are slowly losing popularity nowadays, this is an interesting article because it shows that Europe, like most other places, has problems when it comes to living with multiple ethnic and religious groups. In Europe there is a growing Muslim population with 20 million Muslims in Vienna and countries to the west. 

Those who oppose the construction of the minaret say "the minaret is an Islamic symbol." It is correct that the minaret is one of the symbols of Islam. If you look at a city from afar and see a minaret and the silhouette of a mosque, you know there are Muslims present in that city. However the history of Islam has no record of an "Islamic city model" where only Muslims live and which is decorated solely with Islamic symbols. In any predominantly Muslim city, notable exceptions being Mecca and Medina, one can also find many non-Muslim symbols. Throughout Islamic history and during the Ottoman era, all houses of worship (i.e., mosques, churches, and synagogues) were located in the city center. In other words, it wasn't as though mosques were built in the city center and the churches and synagogues were built in the outskirts of the city. That is how a real multicultural and multi-social society should be. In this type of plural society, there are many options for religious and ethnic groups to represent themselves. Every religion and ethnicity can demonstrate its values through architecture, music, language, accents, food, clothing and etiquette. 

Penguins
St. Patrick's Cathedral
in Karachi, Pakistan

There are examples of this in Istanbul, Damascus, Cairo, Baghdad, Tehran and all other Islamic centers. Sultan Abdulhamit built three houses of worship in the common lodging area -- one for Muslims, one for Christians and one for Jews. Today these buildings still stand side-by-side. Additionally there are mosques, churches and synagogues next to each other in Istanbul's historical peninsula and the areas of Eminonu, Fatih, Beyoglu, Uskudar and Kadıkoy. No one has ever said "you are Christian or Jewish and if you want to live here, you have to accept our laws (in other words you have to remove your symbols and temples)." On the contrary Islamic laws have provided representation rights for different religions. Hence the cause of intolerance towards various religions is not Islam and its sociopolitical experience, but rather the 20th century's modern political and cultural viewpoints. 

Ali Bulac is a columnist for Zaman, an English daily newspaper from Turkey


  Category: Europe, Faith & Spirituality
  Topics: Interfaith, Islam, Switzerland
Views: 14230

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Older Comments:
ZINEDINE FROM MOROCCO said:
Response to Justin Morais,

Salaamu alaikum all,

Are there mosques in the Vatican? NO and why not?

It's because just as the state of the Vatican is the heart of Catholicism, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the heart of Islam. Plain & simple for you to understand! When you people accept the Quran as the word of God and the prophet Muhammad as the last messenger of God, I am sure all cities of the KSA will allow the Jews & the Christians to build their churches & synagogues.
After all, it was our Muslim ancestors that though you people tolerance & made it and multiculturalism an official doctrine of the state's constitution: The Sharia
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JUSTIN MORAIS FROM SINGAPORE said:
Are there Churches,Temples, Synogogues in S.Arabia ? If not why not ? In Malaysia at Alam Shah ,building of a Church is still pending after 20 years.First the Muslims protested tha it was in Centre of Town.When land was purchased Far Away again it was rejected because of the Cross on the roof.
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ABUBAKAR TANKO FROM NIGERIA said:
Alhamdillah,ALLAH IS GREAT, Islam as true religion will surely excel. INSHALLAH
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ABDULKAREEM ABDUL FROM NIGERIAN said:
Blievably,the world is an Islamic terrain.As dictated by ALLLAH.All what is on earth worship HIM With will or unwillingly(qur'an).Patiently,MOSQUE WILL BE EVERYWHERE;IN ALL PLACES.
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YASMINE FAHIM FROM SAUDI ARABIA said:
I can understand your concern. However, let us not forget that in Switzerland there are strict laws regarding the general architecture of each area. People who build new homes must maintain the style of that area. Furthermore, although the principles of Islam were admirably applied in the past by examplary individuals, this is no longer the case in our days. Sadly, we have not done much to represent Islam in admirable ways. We don't even have the bravery to loudly protest against the criminal actions of terrorists across the world in the name of Islam. Thank you.
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IBRAHIM D. ALI FROM NIGERIA said:
There is no compulsion in Religion, The Messenger of Allah (PBUH).

As rightly pointed out, with the exception of Macca and Madina, there is no Muslim City in the world that prohibits or denies adherents of oher religions from expressing themselves.

This attitude by the Swiss Leading Party which by extension is the thought of most Europeans is really unfortunate. I wonder why people should preach one thing and paratice another.

My advice is that Muslims continue to be hospitable and they should also believe that no amount of intimidation to threat can deter Islam from becoming the greatest Religion of earth.

Islam is Allah's and He has promised to protect the religion till the end of time.

What is left for Muslims now is to pray and try as much as possible to practice what the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) advised.

Thank you.
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MUSTAFA M. BUHARI FROM NIGERIA said:
I support the Swiss Administration that granted the Muslims the right to build their mosques and to raise the minarets. The minarets can afford muslim coming to the city the opportunity to visit his/her muslim brothers and sisters living there. Beside, have not been told several time that the Europeans are tolerant, their citizens have their rights or freedom of worship. If some people who are advocating for such freedom are doing what they are doing we are shocked. They should therefore no longer demand for any freedom from muslim countries either.
We have the french banning veils of all symbols simply because those who use veils are muslims. we have seen the British doing similar things where muslims are disallowed using hijabs. Its rather funny for some Swiss parlementariants calling on muslims who don't want to adopt their cultures to go home. Are they claiming that there are no swiss in Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia or any other muslim countries? I strongly belief that there are more swiss living in Muslim countries that muslims living in swizaland. The parlementarians should first start by asking all swiss citizens living in muslim countries to come home to swizaland so that they should not see any minarets as minarets are obnoxious to them. The earlier we stop deceiving ourselves the better. Nobody can live in isolation. The fact that Europe is at present is far ahead of muslims in science andtechnology does not mean by any means that they are better culturally. Afterall what is left of European culture is a caricaure of culture. A word is enough for a wise.
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HASSSAN SALISU FROM NIGERIA said:
The West should learn to be tolerant of Islam if they truly beleive in the fundamental human rights which allows freedom of religion and religious identity .Islam maintains that there is no compulsion in religion.
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MUSA MUHAMMAD DANDIKKO FROM NIGERIA said:
Salamun alaikum,alhamdu lil Lah, this article has given me more courage that Islam is penetrating the West without the use of Force.We Muslims must exhibit the spirit of good behaviour, habits and piety so that Allah will make His deen conquer the whole world not Europe alone.
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MUKHTAR SATAR FROM AFGHANISTAN said:
Thank you for posting a very known fact about muslims today. Our religone respects people and their rights better than any laws and policys of the western.
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BASHIR USMAN FROM NIGERIA said:
Where is the freedom of religion preached by the West. Minarets are part of Islamic Architecture associated with Mosques. Allah's religion will surely prevail over any other.
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M SHAH FROM INDIA said:
If this is the attitude of so called advanced countries I think Osama bin laden is justified. It would and should not hurt these shameless fellows if all churches and synagogues in muslim countries are erased.i mean how does it affect a swiss people if there is a minaret on a masque. a person can just recognize from a distance that the place is for worship. how do you call these wretched countries to be DEMOCRATIC. They have no right to expell a muslim Swiss Citizen. after all state belongs to them as much as other citizens. Shame for these multifaced devils.
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IMAN TRIADI WIDYASWARA FROM INDONESIA said:
Assalammualaikum WrWb, Islam is the most tolerant religion in the world. If we (muslims) live in the muslim majority country or where muslim is majority, we have to be tolerant. The other not muslim can build what they want. If we live in the place where muslim is minority, we have to be telerant too, that we can not build what we want.
Wassalam.
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CARON FROM USA said:
While I understand how many people in the world are afraid of Islam and Muslims right now because of extremists (who scare most of us), I think this is just silly. I am not a Muslim, but a mosque is just a church with another name, a minaret is just a steeple with another name, and they're both buildings for people who believe to come together and worship God/Allah in their own ways.

I could see if this were a porn or gun shop near a school, but this congegation was already using it for worship, and from the sound of it, there were no complaints. What the heck's wrong with making that factory looking building more beauti ful? It would probably improve the neighborhood. I am just too tired of bigotry. It gives me an ache where the sun don't shine.
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SADIK FROM NIGERIA said:
it is becoming clearer that the concept of democracy and freedom of spech, expression, religion, etc have boundries even in countries that preach them.
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ADAMU ABUBAKAR BAPPAH FROM NIGERIA said:
Assalmu Alaykum,
Alhandulilah,our brothers/sisters shall now have a place of worship and where other visiting ummah shall rightly go to offer their religious obligations.This shall continue through-out Europe and America so that those with Islamic Phobia can learn how to live with other persons.
Send my best regards to all our brothers/sisters,ma'as salam.
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RAHMI FROM INDONESIA said:
salm..for all people in the world not only Moslem but also any. i think i m agree with this article. i think that swiss people or european people had a democracy thought.u may gay or lesbian community life n live or any other religon, but why u don't plesa Moslem to be in.
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PERVEZ IQBAL FROM PAKISTAN said:
I think minarets do not create any illusion among the masses.It is sign of existance of mosques and probably the holy place, where we gather and solve the problems which are complicated. There should be minerats for mosques to attaract people.
There may not be any prolems for rest of the relegions.
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IRENA BINTI IDRIS FROM KUALA LUMPUR MALAYSIA said:
Salams and greetings to all. This is really a sad state of the world today. As people who are way in advance of the rest of the world in leaps and bounds, unfortunately have a very tiny or if any bit of humanity left in their hearts... let alone have faith and respect for people who choose to live their lives with the path they have chosen. I say the Muslims in Langenthal plan a public relations exercise to the local community to disseminate Islamic information and activities which include the local community for a better understanding of the Muslims and the Swiss. I live in a multi-cultural and ethnic peoples of Malaysia and we also have many European, American and Australasians living alongside us. We may not be an advanced country like Switzerland, but if you ask anyone on the street, they just love it here. Everyone is free to believe in their own religions. No one is made inferior for choosing his faith.

Salams and peace to all.
Irena binti Idris
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UME MOIZ FROM SAUDI ARABIA said:
Blessingsto u all, this is actuall the fear against muslims esp. in the hearts of west.
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RASHEED FROM USA said:
It is not the muslims the world has to fear. Islam is only being used as a scapegoat. Let's think deeper ans stop letting the corp. media highjack our minds with the views of their earthly benefactors
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MARYAM FROM USA said:
In modern politics projection of negativity towards Islaam in general is clouding the reasoning of many leaderships. The overall Islaamophobia is really out of hand and unwarranted. Most nations have lived in harmony according to the true tenants subscribed in Islaam for many centuries.
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DEJAN MIHAILOVIC FROM BELGIUM said:
I agree that there should be no discrimination against Muslims in Europe or anywhere else but:

1. What is the situation in the US? Are there minarets anywhere and why did you not show them?
2. If there are no temples of other religions in Meka and Medina does that not mean that there should be such places i.e. where only one religion is allowed, in other countries too?
3. It is quite natural that during Ottoman rule all the temples were in the center of the city. Most, if not all, of these cities and temples existed before Ottomans conquered them.

regards
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SHARIF FROM USA said:
I THOUGHT WE LIVED IN THE 21ST CENTURY, BUT THEY CALL ISLAM BARBARIC?? YOU WOULD THINK OUT OF ALL THE PLACES EUROPE WOULD BE MODERN, FIGHTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, FIGHTS FOR JUSTICE AND EQUALITY, WHERE IS THE EQUALITY IN SWITZERLAND WHERE YOU CANT EVEN BUILD A MOSQUE TO WORSHIP GOD?? EVERYTIME I HEAR SOMETHING LIKE THIS IT MAKES ME BE A STRONG BELIEVER IN ISLAM. IF CHINA OR RUSSIA DID THAT THE WHOLE EU CRY HUMAN RIGHTS VOILATIONS. IT WOULD BE ALL OVER THE NEWS AROUND THE GLOBE FOR A WEEK! I REST MY CASE
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SISTER MARIAM FROM CANADA said:
Salaam:
- the reality is that Europeans are mostly bothered that Islam is coming there - and this is happening without a physical struggle - although there is an ideological one; Islam is coming to Europe - due due Muslim immigrating there and they get converts/reverts too.
- Europeans - it's time to get used to Islam!
sister mariam
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KRIS FROM MALAYSIA said:
Assalamualaikum to all my Brothers and Sisters and greeting to the non Muslims,

It is obvious that a large portion of the populace of Switzerland does not understand Islamic. Prophet Muhammad ( peace be upon him ) had once offered and allowed the mosque to be used as a place of worship by a group of visiting Christians. That displays tolerance and respect of the highest level.

I am mindful of the hardship that our Brothers and Sisters in Switzerland are facing because of this treatment. But please be assured that this is just a small test from ALLAH on our resilience and endurance in facing hardship. And please note that the entire earth is a mosque, as long as the places that we choose are clean and hygienic.

Please Brothers, particularly Brother Ahmad Ashger and Brother Alex, do not be perturbed at all by the views of someone in the likes of Romesh Chander. At best he is simply an ignorant lot. Good old Europe, even at present has problems with all groups, which in their views do not fit into the European identity. Indians are not spared too. Just have a good look at the UK Reality TV show where bollywood actress was subjected to racist remarks and innuendous. Is that not a minor case in point Romesh ?

The only difference is one by history, where unlike Hinduism, Islam had greatly contributed to the civilization of Dark Europe. This is a fact which none can ignore. Let's not be engrossed in arguing with Romesh, but let us put our energy and quest elsewhere, something more beneficial and more intellectually stimulating. Islam is now the fastest growing religion in the U.S.A and perhaps in Africa. Why ? Because Islam propogates justice and equality and does not judge a person based on the colour of the skin. And above all, none can ever suppress the truth for long, and Islam is the faith that fits in to all, simple and practical and without any mythology.

Regards,Kris
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TO ROMESH FROM ALEX: FROM USA said:
Your comment implies that Europe only has a problem with Muslims. Please take your Muslim bias shades off and open your eyes.

Read how Italians are having a problem with Chinese

http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/4053644a4560.html

And believe me in the growing European hate pool Indians are included.
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AHMED ASGHER FROM BAHRAIN said:
Romesh

That is exactly the problem. The sight of a minaret has become the symbol of fear.

I said if it were upto me, I would do away with it, if that is what it takes to remove this fear. But you like the rest of the Western world seem to condone this fear-mongering.

Here is what I would do if I were Swiss. I would encourage Muslims to erect their minaret because if I subscribe to freedom and see others use such symbols for their religion then why not Muslims. I would want the same freedom for everyone in my community.

But, I can neither convince those Muslims nor the Swiss, yet I fully understand that fear is not the basis for building any society and it becomes even more distructive when it is propagated by the media and the general public.

Let us work for peace and inclusion, not antagonism and separation. At the core of our existance, we are ALL ONE. Each one of us has the potential not only to see that but act upon this simple belief. I know for sure that the world would be a better place if we did just that.

You might think that is utopia and is not possible. I say you are absolutely right because you think/believe so. However, if you were to change your belief, utopia would be possible, because that is the essence of God that is ONENESS. ALL Creation is made up of same atoms yet they appear in gizillion forms. That is the wonder of Creation. No one should set out to change it but only to understand it (indeed no one can change it). Through understanding comes peace and all fear is removed.

Thank you for being kind in your response because I saw that kindness in you, and forgive me if I seemed so blunt.
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ROMESH CHANDER FROM USA said:
Note to Ahmed Asghar:

If you had read my post carefully, the author was using the terms 'Multiethnic & Multireligious" as if Swiss were having problems with various other ethnicities and religions in addition to Muslims; but the author was describing the problems only with muslims. The author made no mention of other religions. As I pointed out, I have not heard of any such problems with other religious groups either.
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AHMED ASGHER FROM BAHRAIN said:
Romesh

You logic is warped. Try to stick to the subject. Some people wanted to erect an icon as part of their belief and the council disagrees. You seem to be pointing the finger at those people as the very ones who have created all your problems and the holier than though attitude of "look at x,y&z and see how good they are - can't you be like them. All Western problems are created by Muslims. Can't you just crawl back into your hole." That is what I hear you say.

Nowhere here any councilor stated that they are 'terrorists' or aim to disrupt the fabric of the Swiss society. Is there room in your heart to give them a little credit? Or are you forever going to be suspecious against 1.3 billion Muslim as if they can never do anything right? Fear is not a basis for building a society.

If you wish to know my personal opinion see my earlier post. Cheers.

Give peace a chance.
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AHMED ASGHER FROM BAHRAIN said:
If it were up to me, I would say forget about the minaret and just pray in the factory in peace without the need for publicity. Let the Swiss have their way. Besides minarets were errected to call the faithful to prayer in bygone days. These days we have technology to do that and so minarets have an architectural value only. The faithful must seek God in the heart and not in buildings.

Life is short and it has just one purpose and that is for the man to come closer to God whilst doing time in this body. Through closeness a whole lot of other blessings happen, as a side effect! The rest is immaterial. We live in wonderous times if only we could see the magic of God in our hearts and wish the same for ALL His Creation.
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IMRAN AHMED FROM USA said:
OK so we agree the bigots in Switzerland won.

Did it harm Islam in any way?

Many years ago when there were strikes in Pakistan and Bangladesh against Salman Rushdie one very wise Muslim I knew said essentially as follows: One man writing a book cannot cripple a religion that has existed for 1400 years.

This while we walked to work and ignored the strike called by our leaders.

Wise words.

Do you think a minaret is essential to be able to worship ALLAH (SWT)?

Do you think a prayer mat is essential, or that one should raise the cuffs of one's pants, or fold the arms in a certain way, or wear a cap? Or else one is not a good Muslim.

The lack of a minaret will not cripple Islam.

Sura 33 Verses 56-58 have the appropriate answer to those who think it will.


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IDRIS BANKSTON FROM USA said:
Here in Detroit there are several masjids
that do not have minarets.There is also a baptist church
that used to be a synagogue and the star of David is still
on the outside of the building.
I think that the minaret is a religious neccesity...not so much
an esthetic thing or part of the decorative look of the masjid.
Don't catholic churches have crosses on them???
Peace and Blessings
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ROMESH CHANDER FROM USA said:
The author writes "Although the terms "multi-cultural" and "coexistence" are slowly losing popularity nowadays, this is an interesting article because it shows that Europe, like most other places, has problems when it comes to living with multiple ethnic and religious groups.".

Granted, like any place, Europe has problems. But are those problems with MUSLIMS only or with other religious grups? I have not heard of any serious problems with Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Animists.
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MOHAMMAD FROM USA said:
First Khulifa of Islam explicitly gave protection to minorities and their places of worships, namely Jews and Christians, these people preach to us value of democracy and tolerance, hypocrites. Compare this attitude with the letter written by Omar (RA).
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NASIR A FROM US said:
Its good that the people can practice their faith without any problems. However, the remark made by
Oskar Freysinger from the Swiss People's Party said, "If you want to live here, you have to accept our laws. They are following their laws.
They want to practice their religion their way.
If the Christians can follow their religion they're way.
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