Muslims in the Czech Republic are few in number because Czech was not the focus of attention of Muslim immigrants.
Communication with new Muslims would be through the Internet.
The greatest obstacle before the Islamic work in the Czech Republic is the lack of financial support.
Delivering Khutbah (religious sermon) in Arabic along with its translations in Czech between the two Khutbahs.
Approximately 59% of Czechs are without a formal religion.
Interview by: Khalid Saleh — the Czech Republic At the Islamic Center in "Prague" City, Alukah had an interview with the imam and preacher of the Islamic Center in "Prague" City, the capital of the "Czech Republic", Shaykh "Ameromic."
Sheikh "Ameromic" was born in Bosnia in 1977 and received his primary education up to the secondary in Bosnia, then completed his college at the applied University of Al Balqa, Faculty of "Da`wah wa Usulud-Din" Da`wah and Fundamentals of Religion in Jordan. After his graduation, he worked as a teacher of Islam in a secondary school as well as an imam and a preacher at a Masjid in "Bosnia."
Later on, he came to "Prague" to attend some religious seminars until he settled primarily there as the imam and the preacher of the Islamic Center of "Prague" City.
• Sheikh Ameromic, in the beginning, we would like to give a hint to Alukah readers about the Republic, "Czech." The "Czech Republic" is located in central Europe and between 1918 - 1939 and 1945 - 1992 it formed with "Slovakia" the "Czechoslovakia" Republic. In the north, it is bounded by "Poland" and "Germany," from the East "Slovakia," from the south "Austria," and from the West "Germany." The Czech Republic does not have an access to the sea.
About 59% of Czechs are without a formal religion, 26.8% Roman Catholic, 1.2% Protestant, 1% Hoscheit, and 0.2% Oriental Orthodox, 0.2% Jehovah's Witnesses, and 2.8% other religions; the religious sects were prevented during the communist rule to the country.
The "Czech Republic" is divided administratively into 14 provinces, followed by rural districts. "Prague" is the capital and the largest city, and its population is 1,179 million (people / 2001).
Other major cities: Brno (379 185 people / 2001). Ostrava (319 293 people / 2001). Pilsen (166 274 people / 2001). Olomouc (103 293 people / 2001). Liberec (99 832 people / 2001). Badvais (98 876 people / 2001).
• Sheikh Ameromic, why did you choose the Czech Republic to work in, and how was that? I chose the Czech Republic because of the scarcity of preachers and the small number of Muslims because it was not the focus of attention of Muslim migrants. The Czech Republic is still ranked the second or the third in economic terms in compare to European countries. Therefore, the opportunity is still available before Du`ah (callers to Allah) to work at a wider scale, unlike "Bosnia" for example where there are many masjids, imams, and preachers.
• What is the number of the Muslim community here, and how many Muslims are of Czech origin? The number of Muslims is ten thousand —according to the census of the Czech Ministry of the Interior—, which is near to be true, but as for Muslims of the Czech origin, they are nearly five hundred Muslims or more.
• Is there any communication between members of the Muslim community, particularly new Muslims? Still, there is a failure in communicating with new Muslims except through the Internet, where we send the Friday sermons to them as well as some useful articles. The reason for the lack of communication is many of them reside far from the Islamic Center because there is only one Islamic center and one masjid in the middle of "Prague," as well as a masjid in "Brno" City that has been built ten years ago.
• What are the constraints of the Islamic work here from your point of view?
The greatest obstacle is the lack of financial support; the Czech Islamic institution of Waqf collects contributions to finance the Islamic work. The contributions are all local because it was impossible to receive donations after the attacks of 9/11, and of course, these local donations are not sufficient for even necessities.
However, I am still optimistic about the work here and I can see a fertile land for the Islamic Call in here and good and decent people who can accept Islam. The greatest proof to that is the number of the new Muslims who embrace Islam as soon as they read about it on the Internet or embraced it by their own. So, how would be the case if we have the basics for the Islamic Da`wah and find a financial support to help and facilitate things for us to spread the religion?! Very often, comes to me some young Czech and speak out their intention to embrace Islam, and by asking them about the reason, they answer: reading some books and articles about Islam.
• Like other European countries, the Czech Republic is full of temptations, which in turn affect the religious commitment of a Muslim; do you see the impact of these temptations on the commitment of Muslims here? Religious commitment is different from one person to another, but most Muslims have religious commitment and adherence to the limits of religion to the extent that some of them become preachers of Islam; and the more commitment they have, the stronger will they have.
As for the problems of European life —such as food, for example—, this problem is found only in small towns, not in the capital. You may have seen the spread of restaurants and markets that offer Halal (lawful) food. Verily, who abandons something for the sake of Allah, Allah shall compensate him with something better.
• I saw you writing articles in Arabic, do you deliver the Friday sermons in Arabic? Are there any Arabic lessons for new Muslims? Most people who attend the Friday sermons are Arabs and the native who learn Arabic; therefore, we deliver the Friday sermons in Arabic along with its Czech translations between the two khutbahs.
As for teaching the Arabic language, we organize courses for teaching Arabic to non-Arabic speakers. However, there is a wide acceptance of Islam by new Muslims. For example, the number of attendants in the last course, we organized, was 15 persons, where only 7 of them had passed the test. Furthermore, some people learn Arabic in universities or schools at their own expenses.
• I felt that some people here long for visiting the Ka`bah and performing Hajj and `Umrah, does the Islamic Union organize `Umrah and Hajj journeys for Muslims here? Journeys for Hajj and `Umrah used to be organized by the World Assembly of Muslim Youth. After a while, the journeys stopped and only individual journeys remained at people's expenses. The journey of Hajj almost costs 2000 Euros, and most journeys are organized by the Islamic center in the Austrian capital, "Vienna," because of the great capabilities of the Islamic center there as well as its experience in organizing Hajj and `Umrah.
• Is there cooperation or constraints from the Czech government against Muslims? There is no cooperation or constraints because of the small number of Muslim community and the weakness of their economic situation that do not allow us to take any step for cooperation, and in return we do not see any restrictions from the government.
• At the end, thank you very much and you may say a word for anyone you like..
I hope that the Islamic nation would be better and stronger because our strength depends on their strength and our reform depends on them. May Allah reward you the best!
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