Islam is the youngest of the monotheistic world religions. It was founded by Muhammad (between approximately 570 – 632 a.d.) on basis of the revelations he experienced.
Nowadays there are more than one billion (1.2 – 1.5 bn) Muslims all around the world, Arabs create less than 20% of the total.
The word Allah could be translated as the God – not one of many as the gods of the ancient Greece.
Islam originated in the West coast of Arabic peninsula in the cities of Mecca and Medina. The word, „Islam“, was chosen by Muhammad himself and it means „to submit oneself to God“. Muhammad never considered himself to be the leader of Jews or Christians as he saw these religions as heretical – abandoning the right way towards the true God. Yet he felt himself to be the last of the Old and New Testament prophets. According to his teaching, those who submit themselves to God are Muslims. Muslims avoid calling themselves Muhammedans for they consider it a little blasphemous. Muhammad is strictly the prophet (rasul Allah, nabi) to whom God entrusted his message and this is the only miracle of Muhammad´s. After Muhammad´s death the succeeding leader proclaimed: „To those who worshipped Muhammad – Muhammad is dead, to those who worshipped God – God is eternal.“
Muhammad is no more than a messenger: many were the messengers that passed away before him. If he died or were slain, will ye then turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; but Allah (on the other hand) will swiftly reward those who (serve Him) with gratitude. 3:144 (from Quaran)
Islamic foundation in PragueThe Islamic Foundation in Prague is a non-profit organisation, founded to support the needs of practising Muslims in Prague and the surrounding region.
Its activities are focused on
1. Running the Islamic Centre in Prague (mosque)
2. Charitable activities
3. Public education
The Islamic foundation is governed by an elected board of trustees, which ensures:
- To meet all the needs concerning the opening hours. The centre wants to be open to all Muslims without discrimination, as well as to those who are interested in Islam (though they are not Muslims) and to those who just want to visit the Islamic Centre. For these reasons the centre opens at noon and closes late in the evening. It is recommended to consult the centre of any group visits in advance.
- To secure regular Friday service. The worship includes the imam´s speech (sermon) and common festive prayers. The sermon is uttered in three languages (Arabic, Czech and English) as Muslims of many nationalities meet here. Friday services are usually attended by 300 – 500 believers.
- To run the library, regular lectures and programmes, classes of Arabic language and children´s classes.
- To secure the programme during the month of Ramadan (everyday suppers which interrupt the fasting, prayers of Tarawih, staying overnight in the Mosque the last ten days of Ramadan – Itikaf, etc.)
- Celebration of Muslim festivals
- Islamic weddings and funerals, ritual circumcisions of young boys
- Advisory services concerning religious matters. In more complicated cases help from recommended and well known scholars from main European Islamic centres is sought.
- Regular distribution of the prayer times
- Help in social need.
The board of trustees gathers all the gifts from all Muslims which have been contributed as a religious obligation (Zakat) or as voluntary alms (Sadaquah). These are collected separately from other financial recourses intended for the Mosque and its needs. These financial means are used strictly to help socially in need families and individuals. Sometimes the cost of medical care which is not granted by health insurance is paid with this money, or it is used to accommodate Muslims in need or to cover necessary travel expenses, etc.
- Refugee Camps
The Foundation monitors the situation in several refugee camps where there are numerous Muslims. The foundation provides clothing, celebrating of feasts, opening the prayer rooms within the camp, children’s education, financial help, etc
The foundation sends letters, books, magazines, pamphlets, the prayer times to imprisoned Muslims and the supporters of the foundation organize occasional visits. In cooperation with prison officials, the foundation tries to solve problems connected with food. The foundation also opened a small prayer room in one of the Prague´s prisons. Regular Friday services are being held there.
One of the main goals of the Foundation and Islamic Centre is to inform truthfully about Islam and to represent the Muslim community in public. Public education is targeted towards Muslims as well as to all non-believers.
Regular events include: Friday sermon, Saturday Quaran classes, tafsir, hadith and the life of the Prophet (separately for men and women), Saturday children’s classes, lectures for Czech Muslims and those who are interested in Islam (every first Saturday of a new month).
Other activities: courses on Arabic language, a few days long Muslim workshops (organized by the Muslim Student Union), exhibitions, school visits, presentations in mass media, consultation service for students, special care is also paid to translation and printing of books and pamphlets about Islam as well as to the web page of the foundation.
Prague´s Islamic Foundation closely cooperates with other organisations; especially with Islamic Foundation in Brno (the running of the Islamic Centre in Brno), Headquarters of Muslim Communities and with the Muslim Student Union).
History of the Islamic Foundation in Prague
The formation of the Islamic Foundation dates back to around 1990. Yet the roots go even further back in history, when a group of practising Muslims set up regular Friday service meetings. The first common Friday sermons happened in 1989. The first years were typical for very temporary and modest conditions. The meetings took place at a school room at the Egyptian embassy. Later on the Friday meetings kept changing places monthly. They took place at student dormitories (as many of the believers were foreign students), for example at Arnošt z Pardubic Dormitory, 5th May Dorm (nowadays called Švehlova Dormitory). Also various halls or gyms (at Shooters Island, in Žitná street, in Goradzova street) were being rented just for the Friday services.
The first permanent rooms were rented in 1992 in Prague 4, Krč, U Michelského lesa No. 366 at first by the Muslim Student Union which was registered shortly before the Islamic Foundation. The Islamic Foundation, originally the Islamic Centre Establishment and Maintenance Foundation, had been taking care of the Muslim prayer room, it was the first permanent open prayer room in post war Czechoslovakia since 1993. However the Muslim Student Union, which works all around the country, has been keeping its office in the Islamic centre (run by the Islamic Foundation) up to the present day and some activities and events are organized in cooperation with it. The Foundation activities broadened in time: Muslims started using the centre throughout the whole week as a place to meet, to pray and to study; in time the centre also started its public education activities for Muslims and all the people interested in Islam. Though the rented place had been enlarged several times (the total size of the prayer room reached 116 m2, the small women’s prayer room is 17 m2, offices 33 m2), it had proved insufficient and a bigger prayer room with facilities was needed.
In 1996 the Foundation aquired a building in Prague 9 – Kyje, with an old, long time unused two storey building, formerly serving as a dairy. The former owner of the place Pragold Praha Company had already submitted a request for the reconstruction of the building and as the Islamic Foundation bought the whole Pragold Praha, the reconstruction was finished by this company. The reconstruction project was altered considerably, especially by adding the third floor. All the building works finished in spring 1999 and the new Islamic Centre was open to use the 7th of May 1999 by celebration of the Friday service.
The Islamic Centre is a two winged building, the male and female wash rooms are located in the shorter wing which is only two floors high while the main part of the building consists of three floors. In the ground floor there is a women’s lecture room (occasionally serving as a dining room), kitchen and a food preparation room. The first floor hosts the office of the Islamic Foundation and the main prayer room. The second prayer room, library with study room, office of the Muslim Student Union and the imam’s flat are located in the third floor.