Islam Awareness Week driven by FIANZ is focusing on ‘compassion’ as its message and theme for this year. The theme compassion has been chosen, as it is central to Islamic teachings and also as an acknowledgement to compassion received by the Muslim community in New Zealand after the March 15 terrorist attack at two Christchurch mosques.

Islam Awareness Week is hosted every year in collaboration with local Islamic associations across the country to showcase the teachings of Islam to non-Muslims by inviting them to mosques and at small events and activities.

Islam Awareness Week was launched on Monday, August 19 at the Grand Hall in the parliament in the presence of FIANZ members- Dr Mustafa Farouk, president FIANZ, Dr Anwar Ghani, Public Relations and Communications, FIANZ, Minister of Ethnic Communities Jenny Salesa, MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Paul Hunt, Chief Human Rights Commissioner and interfaith religious leaders.

The theme for IAW 2019 ‘a compassionate society’ is a reflection of the generosity received by the Muslims after the Christchurch attack and as a message for all as compassion and mercy, two of the most important things needed by humanity today.

“Compassion is central to Islam, as mentioned in the Quran and in the teachings of our prophet PBUH. AR-Rahman and AR-Raheem are attributes of Allah (Allah is compassionate/merciful),” the message FIANZ read.

“These two simple words convey significant messages in Islam as they precede every surah in the Qur’an except for one. Allah tells us in the Holy Qur’an that he has sent our prophet as Rahma (mercy) to all mankind and as a community of faith we are expected to be merciful towards each other and show compassion to all human beings and animals,” the website read.

As a part of the weeklong event, different Islamic associations across the country host mosque open day, activities for children, display of Islamic calligraphy, history, artefacts etc.

Participating in the IAW are seven Islamic trusts such as New Zealand Muslim Association Incorporated (NZMA) in Auckland that has five mosques/Islamic centres under its wing, South Auckland Muslim Association Incorporated (SAMA), Waikato Muslim Association Incorporated (WMA) in Hamilton

Manawatu Muslim Association Incorporated (MMA) in Palmerston North,

The International Muslim Association of New Zealand Incorporated (IMAN) in Wellington, Muslim Association of Canterbury Incorporated (MAC) in Christchurch and Otago Muslim Association Incorporated (OMA) in Dunedin.

The purpose of IAW is to create an opportunity for the Muslim community to welcome members of other faiths to mosques and engage with them in a dialogue promoting the teachings of Islam, clarifying their doubts about the religion and harnessing a better relationship.

FIANZ through IAW is also encouraging that the Muslim community should take the initiative to invite their friends, neighbours, workmates of other faiths to a meal or tea and have a conversation about Islam, its commonalities with their faiths.

The mosques and Islamic centres will be hosting special workshops and seminars during this week talking on the theme of ten years ‘a compassionate society’, promoting harmony within families and community, anti-violence messages etc. Create a food bank at their nearest Islamic centre and collect donations and charities for the needy.

The mosque open day will host competitions for children, display Islamic calligraphy, designs, artefacts, Islamic videos and food stalls etc.

“There are many people who have never been inside a mosque and don not understand the role of such institution- thus, mosque open day can invite non-Muslims and show how Muslims pray, what activities are held at mosque and what children learn there.

Throughout the week, there will be volunteers and representatives at mosques to show around the visitors and help them understand Islam and Muslims better.