Mosque and Church – Grade 6 learns about Religion and Religious Diversity in the UAE

The 6th grade of the DISD spent this year’s project week with the discovered Dubai in the course of the project “The City is our Classroom” – based on the DISD mission statement, whose pillar “Excellent Learning Environment” also includes the city and region.

In the process, classes 6a, b and c gained an in-depth insight into Emirati history and culture, an important part of the subject “Social Studies” in the UAE. They visited the Dubai Frame and the Louvre and thus gained many new impressions about the emergence of the UAE and the plans for the future of the country.

The week started with a highlight: the first project day with the topic “Religion and Religious Diversity in the UAE”. According to the motto “The City is our Classroom”, a mosque was visited, an important building in an Islamic country like the UAE. Afterwards, however, the connection to the majority religion in Germany, Christianity, was also drawn. Thus the intercultural but also interreligious competences of the pupils could be challenged and promoted. These are lived every day at DISD, as the majority of the students belong to Christianity or Islam and deal with it respectfully and openly, it is quite normal for them! In the subjects Morals and Ethics they learn about the world religions and celebrate religious festivals such as Christmas and the holidays around Ramadan together.

The project day began in the morning with a visit to the Al Farooq Omar Bin Al Khattab Mosque & Centre in Jumeirah. There you were given a guided tour of the mosque, which was built in 1986 and has made it its mission to inform Muslims and especially non-Muslims about the contents of Islam. The founder of the mosque and the Information Centre, Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group, was motivated by the desire to build bridges of communication with other nations based on tolerance. This goal is also reflected in the DISD mission statement, which aims to promote fair, tolerant and humane interaction in a values-based community.

The visit to the mosque began with the taking off of shoes and the dressing of all students in headscarves and abaya. For some students it was indeed their first visit to a mosque and they were all the more excited about the tour. Here they were informed about the construction and special features of the mosque and were made aware that the Al Farouk Mosque has many similarities with the Blue Mosque of Istanbul. In addition, the students were repeatedly encouraged to talk about their own experiences and show their previous knowledge. Prayer washing was talked about and experiences of traditions and clothing in different Arab countries were shared. The students listened attentively to the talk and special interest was expressed in the fact that the women on the upper floor pray separately from the men.

After returning to DISD, the students received further input from Pastor Moritz Drucker, leader of the German speaking Protestant community in the UAE. Pastor Drucker has been working in Dubai since 2014, where he conducts church services, celebrates baptisms, confirmations and church holidays, but also does community work with joint excursions.

The students had already collected questions in advance which they wanted to ask the pastor. After an introduction to the common origin of the three world religions and commonalities of Islam and Christianity, Pastor Drucker reported about his own experiences here in Dubai, e.g. also about a Muslim-Christian couple he married.

The students had many questions about Christian life and its rules and customs. In the overall feedback of the week, the pastor’s visit was positively responded to several times.

Moritz Drucker was also pleased about the great interest: “I was very happy to come to DISD to talk to the young people about the Christian faith. I was pleased how bright the students were and how many questions came up. On the basis of our common “father” Abraham, who is recognized by Muslims, Christians and Jews alike, I tried to make it clear that these three religions are closely related to each other”.

I told the young people that I had already baptized several young women so that they could marry a Muslim. This shows wonderfully how much Islam accepts Christianity.”

On the last day of the project week, the class community invited the parents to a joint graduation. The mothers and fathers prepared a great healthy breakfast, which the class community enjoyed together in the schoolyard. Afterwards, the pupils presented the results of their test to their parents and classmates.