Islam in the Republic of Ireland

The documented history of Islam in Ireland dates to the 1950s. The number of Muslims in the Republic of Ireland has increased since the 1990s[1] although most are not Irish nationals. The 2011 census found 49,204 Muslims in Ireland, constituting 1.07% of the country's population.


The organisational history of Islam in Ireland is complex, not least because of the immense variety of ethnic backgrounds of Irish Muslims.[2] The first Islamic Society in Ireland was established in 1959. It was formed by students studying in Ireland and was called the Dublin Islamic Society (later called the Islamic Foundation of Ireland).[3] At that time there was no mosque in Dublin. The students used their homes and later rented halls for Jum'ah (Friday) and Eid (Muslim holiday) prayers. In 1976 the first mosque and Islamic Centre in Ireland was opened in a four-storey building at 7 Harrington Street, Dublin 8. Among those who contributed to the cost of the Mosque and Islamic Centre was the late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. In 1981 the Ministry of Endowment and Islamic Affairs of Kuwait sponsored a full-time Imam for the Mosque.

In 1983, the present building of the Dublin Mosque and Islamic Centre was bought, renovated and the headquarters of the Society moved from Harrington Street to 163 South Circular Road, Dublin 8.

In Cork, prayer halls are located in housing estates. Cork's Muslim community operates out of an industrial estate, while hoping to raise money to build a new mosque.[4]

In 1992, Moosajee Bhamjee became the first (and to date only) Muslim Teachta Dála (Member of Irish Parliament).[5]

Demography and ethnic background

According to the 2011 Irish census, there are 49,204 Muslims living in the Republic of Ireland,[6] representing a 51% increase over the figures for the 2006 census. According to the 2006 Irish census, there were 32,539 Muslims living in the Republic of Ireland,[7] representing a 69% increase over the figures for the 2002 census (19,147). In 1991, the number of Muslims was below 4,000 (3,873).[8] Islam is a minority religion in Ireland, behind Roman Catholicism and members of the Church of Ireland (incl. Protestants. The 2006 census recorded the number of Roman Catholics at 3,644,965, with 118,948 Protestants.[9] In terms of numbers, Islam in Ireland is relatively insignificant, and although Muslims can claim to be the third largest faith group in Ireland[1] they also lagged significantly behind those with no religion, at 175,252, and those who did not state a religion, at 66,750.

According to the 2001 census, there are 1,943 Muslims (1,164 males 779 females) in Northern Ireland.[10]

The Muslim community in Ireland is diverse and growing rapidly, and its numbers are not determined by the country's history to the same extent as the UK and France, where the majority of Muslims are immigrants or descendants of immigrants from former colonies, or Germany and Austria, where the majority of Muslims are Turkish migrant workers and their descendants. Just over 55 per cent of Muslims were either Asian or African nationals with 30.7 per cent having Irish nationality.[9] The census also revealed that of the 31,779 Muslims resident in Ireland at the time of the census, 9,761 were Irish nationals, less than the number of Asians (10,649) although more than the 6,909 African nationals. The census of 2011 found there were 49,204 Muslims in Ireland, "a sharp rise on five years previously".[11] The Muslim immigration at the end of the 90s was caused by the Irish economic boom and asylum seekers from diverse Muslim countries, and in the 20-year period between 1991 and 2011 the Muslim population increased 1000%, from 0.1% to 1.1% of the population of the republic.[11]

Radical theologians and organisations

The Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland is the home of the European Council of Fatwa and Research (ECFR) a foundation of Muslim Clerics and Scholars which promotes the need for the religious law of Shariah to be "the absolute norm to which all human values and conduct must conform" .

It is headed by Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, an associate of the Muslim Brotherhood who described suicide-bombing attacks on Israelis as "martyrdom in the name of God". Some of his other views are quite interesting; in his book Modern Fatwas, he says the following in relation to female circumcision: "whoever finds it serving the interest of his daughters should do it, and I personally support this under the current circumstances in the modern world". In another of his books – The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam – he says in relation to wife beating that a husband may beat his wife "lightly with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive areas".

Another ECFR leader,Sheik Faysal Mawlawi, issued a fatwah (religious legal ruling) following a Palestinian suicide bombing in Israel that killed forty people, including four Americans. His fatwah asserted that "martyrdom operations are not suicide (which Islam prohibits) and should not be deemed as an unjustifiable means of endangering one's life." "Whoever is killed in such missions is a martyr," explained Mawlawi. "May Allah bless him with high esteem."

Mosques and denominations

In 2003, the Islamic Cultural Centre and Foras na Gaeilge joined forces to translate the Koran into Irish for the first time.[12]

In September 2006 an umbrella organisation, the Irish Council of Imams, was established. It represents 14 imams in Ireland, of both the Sunni and Shia traditions. It is chaired by Imam Hussein Halawa (Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland) and its deputy chairman is Imam Yahya Al-Hussein (Islamic Foundation of Ireland). Imam Dr. Umar Al-Qadri (Al-Mustafa Islamic Cultural Centre Dublin 15), Imam Salem (Cork Mosque), Imam Khaled (Galway Mosque) and Imam Ismael Khotwal (Blackpits Mosque) are among its founding members.


  • the Clonskeagh, Dublin. Imam: Hussein Halawa;
  • the South Circular Road. Imam: Yayha Al Hussein;
  • Al-Mustafa Islamic Cultural Centre, Dublin 15 :Imam: Dr. Umar Al-Qadri [4])
  • Muslim Association Forum, Ireland, situated at the [5]) in Dublin and established since 1999, and acquired Charity status in 2001, as a melting pot for Muslims from African background to teach and share Islamic knowledge.
  • Muslim Association of Ireland [6] Executive Director: Dr. Khaled Suliman
  • Turkish Irish Educational and Cultural Society Fethullah Gulen in Dublin, established in 2004[13]


  • Belfast Islamic Centre [7], established in 1977.
  • Dublin


The Ahmadi community has been established since 2001 and are mostly located in Galway. Mosques include Ahmadiyya Mission.

Muslim students in universities

There are several student Islamic societies (ISOC) in universities all across Ireland especially in the major universities such as UCD, TCD, UCC, NUIG, ISSNI Queen's Belfast, RCSI, DCU, DIT, IT Tralee, IT Tallaght, IT Blanchardstown, DBS.[15]

Yearly events include regular (weekly halaqas & linguistic classes), social (Food festivals), cultural (Eid), Charity drives (Charity week), physical (sports), Academic (speakers tours, lectures, courses, conferences & seminars), Intellectual (debates) and campaigns (Islam awareness & justice)

The Federation of Students Islamic societies (FOSIS) Ireland

  • UCD ISOC [11] was established in 1991
  • TCD [12] was established in 1998
  • RCSI ISOC [13] was established in 1999
  • DIT ISOC was established in 2004
  • IT Tralee was established in 2008
  • IT Blanchardstown was established in 2009

See also


External links

  • Islamic Foundation Of Ireland
  • Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland
  • Irish Islamic Chamber of Commerce
  • Dublin City University Islamic Society
  • The Muslim Survival Guide for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
  • Cork Mosque
  • Cork Muslim Women's Group
  • Federation of Student's Islamic Socities Ireland
  • University College Dublin Islamic Society
  • University College Dublin Islamic Society Blog
  • Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland Islamic Society
  • President McAleese FOSIS Islam Awareness Week '10 Grand Dinner Speech
  • Trinity College Dublin Islamic Society
  • University College Cork Islamic Society
  • National University of Ireland Galway Muslim Youth Society
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