|Mosque 104 in Phuoc Nam commune, Ninh Thuan province. (Photo: Ngoc Anh)
Islam was first introduced to Vietnam in the 19th century, with two lines - Sunni Muslims and Bani Cham Muslims. Vietnam now has more than 25,000 Muslims, mainly living in the southern provinces.
Muslims worship only Allah, considering Him the one true God. Every Muslim is obligated to pray 5 times a day. During a Muslim ceremony, there are no offerings to Allah, only commemoration in the heart. Muslims can pray at home, but Friday prayer or congregational prayer is held every Friday at a mosque and includes a sermon.
| Phuoc Nam villagers pray at mosque 104. (Photo: Ngoc Anh)
Attending a communal prayer at mosque 104, Tai Thi Mi, a villager of Van Lam 4 in Phuoc Nam commune, said, “I pray for good health and for my children to do well in business and have safe trips and bumper crops. I regularly perform prayers 5 times a day. During the month of Ramadan, I fast from 4 a.m. to 6 p.m.”
Ninh Thuan is home to about 3,000 Islamic followers who practice their faith at four mosques.
Phu Van Diep, Deputy Chairman of the People's Committee of Phuoc Nam commune, which accommodates two mosques, says the local administration supports villagers in practicing their religion.
According to Diep, there are four religions in the commune - Buddhism, Brahmanism, Sunni Muslim, and Bani Muslim - each of which has a representative who holds a key position in the commune administration.
“A Sunni Muslim is Vice Chairman of the commune People's Council. All the religions work together equally. No case of disunity has ever been reported between religions and ethnic groups in the area. The two mosques, which were once small, have expanded and have organized many charity activities to help disadvantaged people in the commune,” said Diep.
The provisional representative board of the Muslim community of Ninh Thuan province made its debut in March, 2011, at mosque 104 in Phuoc Nam commune.
Chau Van Nghe, the hakim of mosque 101 and deputy head of the provisional representative board, recalled that in 1960, Indians brought Islam here.
“The first mosque in Ninh Thuan was mosque 101. Muslims of mosque 101 and Muslims of mosque 104 are united and live in harmony. Poor people and people in distress are helped. Sermons often combine information in need of dissemination, such as Fatherland Front announcements, the government law on religion, and freedom of belief,” said Nghe.
He insisted that the government gives strong support to Islam. Islamic overseas Vietnamese and foreigners are allowed to visit mosques and practice religious activities like local believers.
|Phuoc Nam villagers gather to chat after the prayer. (Photo: Ngoc Anh)
The Islamic community in Phuoc Nam lives mainly on rice, corn, and potatoes. Living standards improve day by day.
The poverty rate in Muslim-inhabited areas is about 2%. The provisional representative board has guided the board of hakims of mosques to perform religious activities in accordance with religious principles.
The dignitaries have encouraged locals to develop household economy and participate in patriotic emulation movements, said Bao Dai Tinh, the hakim of mosque 104 which has 93 households with 334 people. Five poor households receive monthly support from the State.
“Friday is the congregational prayer when all followers gather at the mosque to perform a religious ceremony. During the traditional New Year festival of the Cham, leaders from the central and provincial government come to deliver gifts to local people,” said Tinh.
Cham Muslims in Phuoc Nam commune are diligent, altruistic, and humane and strictly abide by State guidelines, policies, and laws to help build a peaceful, happy and prosperous nation.