At Dandenong Mosque in Melbourne’s south east, dozens of worshippers faced Mecca, knelt and prayed.
But as part of Victoria’s inaugural Mosque Open Day, intrigued non-Muslims watched on.
Mohamed Mohideen from the Islamic Council of Victoria says the day provides a rare opportunity to dispel myths around issues like Sharia Law, Halal and more.
“One of the key things that people say is that we are training terrorists – we are not. Jihad in it’s real sense is not holy war Jihad is striving to achieve the best.”
Deanna McKeown had never entered an Australian Mosque, and viewed the day as an opportunity to learn.
Volunteers even helped her try-on a Hijab and explained it’s significance – which certainly wasn’t wasted on Ms McKeown.
“They are chosing to do this so I think that if it’s pure choice then it’s liberating to do what you wish to do.”
At nearby Hallam Mosque, volunteer Inaz Janif escorted several groups through a range of Islamic information booths and stalls.
She says opening the places-of-worship and offering accurate, informed cross- cultural and religious information is extremely important.
“I think it’s a good way of showing that here we are – we’re not going anywhere we’re open come and learn what we’re about .”
Ms Inaz, a local school teacher, says she’s witnessed how misunderstanding and anti-Muslim rhetoric is damaging her community
“I’ve seen with my own eyes the impact of Islamophobia on them where I’ve even seen teenagers attacked over hate and fear of Muslims.”
So highlighting similarities, not difference became a theme of the day – especially for volunteer Zarqa Nur who says she too learned plenty from her discussion with Jewish visitor Keren Harel-Gordan.
“I’ve known that Judaism it’s one of the Abrahamic faiths so I know the similarities are there but just to speak about the daily way we live it – and how similar it is, it’s really nice.”
And the sentiment was shared by Ms Harel-Gordan.
“Prayers – ok so in Islam it would be 5-times a day and Judaism 3-times a day but again it’s very similar.”
It’s intended for the Victorian Mosque Open Day to become an annual event.