Different kind of beautiful Chapter 8: Islamic Centre by the River
Travelogue: 8th June 2015
After all the crazy photo taking in the Volksgarten, the bestie suggested we go visit the mosque in Vienna. It is always interesting to visit mosques in the different countries and see how Islam is adopted into life there. 2 years ago when we were in Paris, we skipped giving the Grand mosque a visit and we both kinda regretted it till today.
We made our way there by subway as usual. We alighted at this station.
We had a pleasant surprise when we stepped out of the station. Right in front of the station was a long river and people were lounging and basking in the sun.
It was beautiful and we wanted to explore more but we decided to stick to our original plan first. When we saw this sign, we knew we were at the right place.
Our challenge was trying to read the signs as there were none in english so we made smart guesses from the french / german words.
We did it!
Apparently, it was an Islamic Centre. This Vienna Islamic Centre is the largest mosque in Austria. There were some construction going on.
I love the fact that there was a little garden at the side.
It was a lot larger than what we thought and it was surprisingly not empty. There were people in the musollah, in the garden and even on the porch. We went in to do zohor / asar prayers first.
A widespread of brochures about Islam. They looked so interesting but unfortunately they were all in french / german and again, I can’t read them.
My guess is that the centre does some awareness about Islam to the public and new converts. Before this trip, I was worried about our safety while travelling in Europe. I have heard of incidents where ladies were spat on and treated unfairly simply because they were wearing the hijab. This term ‘islamphobia’, that came about recently, were mainly because of terrorists acts. For people who do not understand Islam, pointing fingers at the religion was inevitable.
Please do not misunderstand. Islam is a religion of peace. Whatever terrorist acts these ‘muslims’ did in the name of Islam is invalid. The religion never teach or allow us to hurt others no matter what the circumstances are.
My worries about our safety came to an end when I saw many ladies in hijab on the streets. I saw a few in Prague but here in Vienna, these ladies were everywhere. It was only then I found out that Islam is the second most widely professed religion in Austria. Most muslims live in the capital Vienna with 12.5% population.
I guess this was why I did not feel out of place at all!
A sign in arabic on the door and I am guessing that most muslims here can read and understand arabic too.
I was impressed.
There were obviously lesser people in hijab in Europe compared to in Asia but what is special about these places is the bond that we unconsciously share. A shared smile, a salam between two strangers in hijab immediately bonds the two into sisters in islam. Islam here is like a common language, a common trait and a common goal.
This cloth on my head represents my religion, my faith and my identity.
We left the centre at around 6.30 pm and decided to explore the are near the river. It was only 5 minutes away.
A childrens’ playground attracted me first.
There were not many children. Perhaps it was because the weather was pretty hot and sunny.
There were so many people sun-tanning, swimming and simply chilling. Perhaps they were waiting for the sun to set, or hanging out with their friends and family.
The children who were playing in water looked so joyful. It was not too deep at the sides, so there were kids playing in water and their float. We decided to buy ice cream and sit on the grass to simply watch them.
I can understand why everyone was hanging out here. It was pretty cooling when the sun was hidden by the clouds. It was a perfect place for a picnic. I wish we brought mats and finger food. Lol.
I absolutely cannot look at people swimming because I get so jealous, I would want to jump in too. It is just that I can’t swim.
Everyone really looked like they were having the best time of their lives swimming in this river! We even saw a group of teenagers jump down from the bridge into the river. I am pretty sure the bridge was at least 20 metres high from the river!
The bestie and me could only settle with sitting by the river. This is not something we get to do back home.
I also love how the Islamic Centre can be seen from the river. It was a long stretch and we had a good stroll along it.
Vienna, the more I know you, the more I love you.