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Islam in Guernsey
Shahid Rahman spoke about life on the Island as a Muslim since he moved here in 1973.
Shahid Rahman has lived on Guernsey for over twenty years, bringing up a family on the Island and facing some of the challenges, living on a historically Christian Island.
Shahid defines his main beliefs as following One Supreme God, according to the message the Holy Prophet Mohammad brought to those who regard themselves Muslim.
As a Muslim what does your Faith entail?
Shahid believes you are expected to pray five times a day, to make charitable donations and to make a pilgrimage visit to the Holy City of Mecca.
A Qu'ran in both English and Arabic.
There is a month of fasting once a year which enables the Muslim to focus the mind on his position in life and focus on his faith.
If you are strict in belief then you might forbid alcohol totally but there are those who still go for moderation.
How does life on Guernsey affect your Faith?
It is still possible to carry out many of the fundamental requirements of the faith but there are pressures of maintaining faith on an island where the community is small.
On Guernsey there is no building or any mosque where he and his family are able to worship.
But Shahid does not see this as too big a problem: "It is encouraged in the Qu’ran that where there is a small body of individuals they can pray together".
Muslims are also required to eat meat which is slaughtered in a ritual manner. This meat, known as Halal meat, is not available on the island.
There are one or two restaurants Shahid believes might stock Halal meat, but if you wanted to follow this strictly it would be almost impossible and you would have to purchase it from overseas.
There are a few dozen Muslims on the island but Shahid believes it is still possible to feel part of the brotherhood of Islam.
Even though all the Muslims on the island come from all different walks of life and might not have anything in common socially there is a common feeling of unity.
Especially at the time of fasting as there is a big feast at the end of the feasting time there is a celebration of Eid where everyone gets together.
How has it been bringing up a Muslim family on the Island?
As a parent on a Christian island it has been important that as his children look around them there are tangible symbols of the faith such as the Qur'an, prayer rugs and family exchange and interchange.
But once the children get to 18 it is up to them, as a father he can give them guidelines but it is up to them if they follow the faith.
Religious texts and a prayer mat.
Do you feel people of other faiths on Guernsey understand Islam?
He believes there is a lot of fear and ignorance, when people learn about other religions it is often 'text book' learning.
Shahid believes that there is too much focus on the differences between the religions and people don’t focus on the fact that they share the same origin with the same prophets.
However those in the churches are more aware of Islam on the Island.
Has the events in London and 9/11 changed the attitudes towards Islam?
Yes. Both positive and negative there is fear and hostility, concerns about immigration, housing, jobs.
However since 9/11 there has been a huge take up of interest in the Qur’an. People want to read and know why, where does it say this, where does it say that. There is curiosity and interest.
Through the Internet, there is greater access to information which has made people more aware.
last updated: 02/05/2008 at 15:50
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