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Islam in Ireland

A Historical Background on the Islamic Existence in Ireland

The documented history of the Islamic existence in Ireland goes back to the 1950's. This was represented in the Muslim student's who came to Ireland to study. Before this time very little or nothing is known about Islam and Muslims in this country. The first Islamic Society established in Ireland was in 1959. It was established by the Muslim students and was called the Dublin Islamic Society (later called the Islamic Foundation of Ireland). At that time there was no Mosque in Dublin, the students used to pray Jumu'ah and the Eid prayers in houses or in rented halls. In 1969 the students started contacting their relatives and some Islamic organizations and Muslim countries for the purpose of collecting donations to establish a Mosque. In 1976 the first Mosque and Islamic Centre in Ireland was opened in a four story building at No. 7, Harrington Street, Dublin 8. Among those who contributed to the project of the Mosque and Islamic Centre was the late King Faisal ibn Abdel Aziz, In 1981 the Ministry of Endowment and Islamic Affairs in Kuwait sponsored a full time Imam for the Mosque. Since then there were four Imams who filled this post. A few years after the establishment of the first Islamic Centre and Mosque in Dublin, the Mosque itself became too small for the increasing numbers of worshippers. The Muslims in charge of the society started a second campaign to collect donations in order to establish a bigger Mosque. In 1983 the present building of the Dublin Mosque and Islamic Centre was bought, renovated and the headquarters of the Society moved from Harrington Street to 163, South Circular Road, Dublin 8. The building at Harrington Street was later sold as it was no longer used as a mosque, and for the money it generated some Waqf property was bought in the area of the new Mosque.
Some of the important dates in the Islamic existence of Ireland include:

  • 1978, the Galway Islamic Society (in the west of Ireland) was established, and a house was rented to be used for the Jumu'ah and congregational prayers in the city.
  • 1981, a house was bought in Galway to be used as a Mosque for the Muslims in the City.
  • 1984, the Cork Muslim Society (in the South of Ireland) was established. Cork is the second largest city in Ireland after Dublin. A house was rented for the Muslims to perform their prayers.
  • 1986, The Ballyhaunis Mosque in the Northwest of Ireland was built.
  • 1990, the Muslim National School in Dublin was opened. It is the first Muslim school recognized and funded by the Irish Department of Education.
  • 1994, a house was bought in the city of Cork to be used as a Mosque for the Muslims in the City.
  • 1994, a house was bought in Limerick in the Mid-South of Ireland to be used as a Mosque for the Muslims in the City.
  • 1996, the Islamic Cultural Centre was opened in Dublin following a generous donation by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Deputy Governor of Dubai and Minister of Finance and Industry in the United Arab Emirates.
  • 1999, a branch of the Islamic Foundation of Ireland in the City of Waterford was formed. A house was rented for the prayers and classes for adults and children.

 

Recognition of Islam in Ireland

Article 44 of the Irish Constitution for 1937 recognises the special position of the Catholic religion in Ireland, as the followers of Catholisism constituted the majority of the population of Ireland (over 90%). This article also recognises some of the Protestant denominations and Judaism. There was no mention in the article of the Islamic religion as there was no Muslim existence in Ireland at that time. This article has been deleted from the Irish constitution in 1972, and as such there is no article in the present Irish constitution which says that the State recognises certain religions and does not recognise other religions. However, practically the State recognises Christianity represented in Catholicism and the Protestant denominations and Islam and Judaism especially in the area of education, marriage and the participation of the representatives of Christianity, Islam and Judaism at official State functions.

 

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