Krakow’s Islamic Centre

You’d be forgiven for not knowing that Krakow has an Islamic Centre. Tucked away on a side street north of the Old Town, only a modest green sign announces its presence to the outside world. Inside too, the Krakow home of one of the world’s great religions is understated. A single room is used for prayers and meetings. Tape on the worn carpet indicates the east-west axis, allowing the faithful to place their prayer carpets in the correct orientation. A simple whiteboard bears handwritten prayer times along with the entry phone code for the building. There is a calendar and a single, framed example of Islamic calligraphy.

The Krakow Post visited the Islamic Centre at the invitation of Dr. Hayssam Obeidat, a lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the Jagiellonian University. Dr. Hayssam and a small group of friends founded the centre in 2011 as a place for the city’s Muslims to pray together and celebrate festivals. He spoke to us about their members and activities.

“We rent the space from the municipality of Krakow. Our community includes around fifty people who attend prayers and take part in our various activities. I believe there about 1,000 Muslims in Krakow and about 35,000 in Poland as a whole,” said Dr. Hayssam.

Krakow Post: What are the centre’s main activities?

Dr. Hayssam Obeidat: We have prayers five times a day and a big prayer meeting on Fridays. Because most of the members of our community work, many of them cannot attend daily prayers and only attend the main prayer meetings on Fridays. We celebrate the Muslim festivals, including Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr and others. We hope to soon open a school for children to teach them about Islam. There is also a Muslim women’s group that meets here every Friday. It includes Polish women who have converted to Islam and students from Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia and other countries.

KP: Do you find it difficult to keep the tenets of Islam while living in Poland?

Dr. H: I have lived in Poland for 28 years now, and I have never had any problems keeping Islamic religious laws. I think the bigger problem is for Muslim women, because of the hijab clothes they wear. They sometimes feel uncomfortable when people stare at them on the street. Krakow city council, and especially the mayor, were very supportive of our wish to open this centre.

KP: Do you have any contact with the Jewish community or the Catholic Church in Krakow?

Dr. H: We don’t have any formal connections with the Jewish community, but I sometimes meet its members at public events. I have met the Chief Rabbi of Krakow several times. We are very open to dialogue with all religious communities. We have a strong dialogue with the Catholic Church and are invited to their ‘Islam Day’ every year.

KP: How do you feel as a Muslim living in predominately Catholic country? Do you find it difficult to raise your children according to the tenets of Islamic here?

Dr. H: Polish society doesn’t like radicals and we are not radicals. There have been a few, minor incidents, but generally I feel very comfortable as a Muslim in Poland. The children go to public schools but they do not participate in religion lessons, which are not obligatory.

KP: Can anyone visit your centre to experience a Muslim festival or see prayers?

Dr. H: The centre is open to everybody. We sometimes have guests at our prayer meetings – usually school or university students who are interested in experiencing Muslim traditions. Everybody is always welcomed.

KP: Poland’s Constitutional Court recently upheld a ban on the ritual slaughter of animals according to Islamic Halal and Jewish kosher rules. How has this affected your community?

Dr. H: Halal meat is very important for us. This decision has definitely caused us a serious problem. I am willing to join hands with the Jewish community to solve this issue.

KP: Do you feel that Islamic life in Krakow has developed in recent years?

Dr. H: Definitely yes. We plan to hold a festival in the near future that will introduce the Muslim faith to the people of Krakow, and we hope it will help us spread the beauty of our religion to the local citizens.

The Krakow Islamic Centre can be found at ul. Jana Sobieskiego 10.
Their website is: cmwk.wordpress.com

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9 thoughts on “Krakow’s Islamic Centre

  • May 4, 2013 at 6:23 pm
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    It’s it so bad that Islam has arrived to Krakow.

    Reply
  • June 23, 2013 at 11:18 pm
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    Wars are raging all over the world today just as the Bible stated that they would in the end times. Now we have trouble in Turkey, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, N. Korea, Libya, and on and on the list goes! Iran continues unwavering on it’s march in the development of nuclear weapons and Assad the dictator of Syria is still in power. Current intelligence seems uncertain of when Iran will get the bomb and Israel cannot afford to gamble with this. Assad of Syria has allegedly used Chemical and Bio weapons against his own people and has threatened to use them against other nations in the past. If this situation does not drastically change soon for the better, I believe the war in Isaiah Chapter 17 will likely take place. Damascus Syria would be destroyed. The worlds economy would likely collapse as a result and could usher in a one world government movement. I wrote a small 6 page book that outlines what I believe the Bible states will take place soon as well as the potential trends I see at this time. I don’t accept donations and it’s free. It’s a short read. I encourage you to have a look: http://www.booksie.com/religion_and_spirituality/book/richard_b_barnes/after-the-rapture-whats-next

    Reply
  • July 9, 2013 at 1:22 am
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    To Don, the writer of the first comment:
    I’m sorry to say this, but you’re a huge dumbass. Why would you say that? Did any muslim try to hurt you while you’re in Krakow? Has it been any incident with any muslim? I bet NO. So shut up, be quiet and respect people’s religions

    Reply
  • July 11, 2013 at 8:41 pm
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    Dzien dobry!

    Gratulacje :-)

    Actually, muslims are very friendly and show every performance in good habits wherever in Poland generally. Muslims Krakow are always get a lot of achievement, for example as doctor, students in UJ, AGH, Politechnika, etc… Also, one of the pioneer of Islamic Centre is Abu Azzam, he has receive two best awards from PMI Centra Europe since 2009 until his family must move in last winter break, jan 2013. The people of Poland (especially Krakow and generally Europe-PMI) feel so so lost him, can you imagine that a young muslim (from far away place) has already help to increase your economy, culture and appreciation of Islam in beautiful old town Krakow ? :-).

    Another new muslims (Poland people) who are make best friends with me and my family are very very nice people, as good muslims always with good characters. Of course they are also have very good carrier/ profession, such as as doctors, teachers, lecturers, even architecs, tourist guide, journalists, bussiness man/woman, etc etc. Don’t be hesitate to ask them to make friends, to ask them about Islam, etc… because we are muslims, we always open minded and feel pleasure to make friends wherever, to keep learning and keep sharing, insya Allah…

    A lot of brothers and sisters have another journey now (after happy living in Krakow…few years~sweet moments in Old Town), salaam for you all ; our brothers+sisters in Indonesia, Malaysia, Belarus, Moroco, Russia, Egypt, Gaza, India, Pakistan, UK, Srilanka, Germany, etc etc…

    Ramadhan mabroook rightnow, hopefully we do the best in this time, “The beauty and status are remembered by the people sometime. But our good characters will rule all over the hearts, let’s repair our purpose in the heart, keep positive thinking every day…” #LoveIslam #CatatanCintaNyadiKrakow

    Best Regards,

    -Ry-

    Reply
  • July 11, 2013 at 8:47 pm
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    Btw I forgot to say salaams and “Really miss my best friends, Selma, Deyaa, etc from Turkey…. ” now I can cook Polish food, Turkish food, Malays food, etc… not only Indonesian food :-)

    Barokalloh Muslims Krakow <3

    Reply
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  • May 2, 2014 at 11:16 pm
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    Alhamdul lilah wajazakom alah kayra aljaza

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  • July 11, 2015 at 2:48 pm
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    As salam u alaikum .I will be visiting Krakow from 23 August to 30 August for a poloice games and conference. It would be nice to meet the muslim ommunity of Krakow.

    Reply
  • May 20, 2016 at 9:43 pm
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    I am new here in krakow I am a Muslim I am searching Muslim people but haven’t found it yet

    Reply

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