Seeing the occasion as an opportunity to overcome prejudices, the Polish Catholic Church is set to celebrate the annual “Day of Islam” on January 26, to bring unity to the community.
Bishop Henryk Ciereszko said that the commemoration would help “to overcome aversion and prejudices, to point out what unites Muslims and Christians,” Catholic News Agency reported.
The Day of Islam is traditionally celebrated after the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, held on Jan. 18-25. This will be the 21st year that the Polish Church has marked the day, first commemorated in 2001.
This year’s event would be held under the motto “Christians and Muslims: Protecting Places of Worship Together.”
“It emphasizes the importance and role of those places, the Catholic churches and Muslim mosques, where God is worshiped, prayers are recited, and an encounter with God is experienced,” Ciereszko, the auxiliary bishop of Białystok and the Polish bishops’ delegate for Catholic-Muslim dialogue, said.
This year’s Day of Islam will be observed online due to the coronavirus pandemic. The principal celebration will be livestreamed on Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. local time.
The program will include welcome messages from Muslim and Catholic leaders, as well as recitation of passages from the Qur’an and the Bible.
An imam and a bishop will each recite prayers for their respective communities.
Muslims in Poland
First Tatars, known as Lipka Tatars settled in the then Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which later became part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 14th century.
Tatars settled in the areas of what is now Belarus and Lithuania. Many of the families, already distinguished or even boasting the mirza title, were ennobled by the Polish kings for their military prowess and achievements.
The first significant non-Tatar Muslims arrived in Poland in the 1970s. Today, less than 1% of the population of Poland is Muslim.
According to a 2015 estimate, Muslims in Poland are estimated to number between 25,000 to 40,000 people or some 0.1% of the population, and are composed of some 5,000 Lipka Tatars as well as more numerous recent immigrants.
The majority of Muslims in Poland are Sunni.