Building Bridges - connecting Muslims in NZ to non-Muslims

The Office of Ethnic Affairs has worked with the New Zealand Muslim community on the Building Bridges Programme since 2005. The programme aims to create better connections, meaningful collaboration and open communication to support the maintenance of New Zealand’s social harmony. We also recognise that New Zealand Muslims not only contribute significantly to New Zealand’s economy but provide New Zealand with a pathway to trade with the Muslim world.

Building Bridges booklet - 2013

Does Islam have an image problem?

left Maliha Sani, Waseema Ahmad, Dr Ingrid Mattson, Munira Khanum, Sidra Khan, Sahar Farhat

The New Zealand Muslim community hosted North American Islamic studies scholar Dr Ingrid Mattson to a series of talks around the country in August.

Over 300 participants attended the sessions which covered topics such as 'Does Islam have an Image Problem' and  'Is Uniformity the Enemy of  Muslim Unity'. She spoke about the importance of differentiating between unity and uniformity and how this distinction impacted on new converts, women and healthy communities. Talking about the divide between sunni and shia *- she said having separate mosques does not mean that you are disunited but  that you are diverse.

Dr Mattson is the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada.  Formerly, she was professor of Islamic Studies, founder of the Islamic Chaplaincy Program and director of the Macdonald Centre for Islamic Studies and Christian Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, CT.  She earned her PhD in Islamic studies from the University of Chicago in 1999. She is the Author of 'The Story of the Quran - its history and place in Muslim life'.

She also spoke about the Amman Message which a diverse group of Muslim scholars put together as a declaration against violence and extremism.

Several people from the Muslim community came together to organise Ingrid's program - from Islamic Women's Council of New Zealand to Young Muslim Women's Association.

*  Sunni and Shia are the two major denominations of Islam. Both Sunni and Shia Muslims share the most fundamental Islamic beliefs and articles of faith. The differences between these two main sub-groups within Islam initially stemmed not from spiritual differences, but political ones. Over the centuries, however, these political differences have spawned a number of varying practices and positions which have come to carry a spiritual significance. More at: