On Tuesday, the 29th of January, the students of Grammar travelled to the Islamic Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh, Co. Dublin to research their action project. For the Junior Certificate, each religion class must produce a journal on a certain topic. Topics included: “A profile on the founder of a major world religion” and “features of a sacred building in a world religion.” The group decided that researching their chosen topics would be most beneficial in a visit to an Islamic mosque (Islam was the other world religion we chose to study.) So on Tuesday, we left Clongowes Wood College at nine o clock and soon arrived at the Clonskeagh Islamic Centre. We were greeted there by the imam who would be showing us around and answering all of our questions.
We noticed the features of the mosque which from the outside was quite impressive. The most noticeable feature being the large dome in the central area of the roof. Three large columns shadowed the door with a balcony and as one walked up the steps, it was hard not to be impressed by the design. We entered what was the main foyer and were given a basic introduction into Islam with the help of three pictures. One of the Kaaba, one of the Great Mosque in Medinah and one of the mosque in Jerusalem. Each, in order, being the top three most important places in the Islamic faith. The imam tested our knowledge with many questions about Islamic basic beliefs which the group were able to answer confidently. We were then asked to remove our shoes and enter the main prayer hall. It was large and spacious with a decorated carpet covering the floor. There was a balcony in the upper right side for mothers bringing small children known as the women’s balcony and on the roof, the interior of the dome was visible, hanging from it a crystal chandelier. On ground level, one could see a large niche shaped as a doorway cut into the wall. This is called the mihrab and it is what Muslims face when they pray. Beside it was the minbar where the imam gives his sermons, the imam being the spiritual leader of the mosque. This is a raised platform, much like a pulpit in Christian churches. We were told that thanks to recent modernisation, the services were now available in English as well, thanks to two new plasma screens located on the walls. There were also clocks that indicated prayer times. Although very impressive, the decoration of the mosque was rather plain compared to Catholic Churches. We learned that paintings and other icons are forbidden in Islam. The only decorations permissible are geometric patterns and Qur’anic verses written in calligraphy.
When the group had had all of their questions answered and we had taken detailed notes of the room we were in, we were shown the wudu area where Muslims perform ritual washing before prayer. Afterwards, we headed back out to the buses and returned to Clongowes Wood College to begin our work on our journals.
Written by Sean McMahon, Grammar