Over 200 UK mosques take part in open day

29th Mar 2018
Over 200 UK mosques take part in open day

 Maidenhead Mosque Executive Committee member Muhammad Riaz Hussain, PM Theresa May and her husband Philip May.(Photo: Maidenhead Central Mosque) 

Harun Nasrullah

The Prime Minister, Opposition Leader and mayors of major cities, all joined tens of thousands of visitors at 200 mosques across the UK on February 18. For the fourth consecutive year, mosques opened their doors to their non-Muslim neighbours as part of Visit My Mosque Day – a volunteer-led grassroots initiative facilitated by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).

A YouGo poll commissioned by MCB has found that almost 70% of Britons hadn’t visited another faith’s place of worship, and almost 90% hadn’t been inside a mosque.

Secretary-General of MCB, Harun Khan, said mosques positively contribute to communities as “illustrated so well by Al-Manaar in West London last summer as their volunteers and their local community pulled together to support the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire. We are pleased to see more mosques than ever before taking part in 2018 and we hope it will help local communities build long-lasting relationships for years to come.”

 

 

LONDON

Speaking at Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Today is a day to increase understanding, celebrate the important role mosques play in bringing the local community together, and in particular, to highlight the major part everybody at this mosque has played in responding to last summer’s devastating Grenfell Tower fire.” Director of the Centre, Abdurahman Syed, told The Muslim News that the open day, which they have been organising for many years, “gives us an opportunity to get to know each other better” and work in partnership with various bodies including those of other faith and non-faith.

During the six-hour event at Finsbury Park Mosque Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, toured the mosque, spoke to worshippers, enjoyed a meal and took part in a Q&A session with the management.

The centre was near the scene of a terrorist attack last year when a far-right terrorist drove a van into a nearby crowd of worshippers, killing one and injuring many. The mosque’s Chair, Mohammed Kozbar, said the open day comes at a “sensitive time, being the first one since the attack last year. For the mosque, this is an important opportunity to build upon the spirit of local solidarity and show that Finsbury Park Mosque is more than just a mosque.”

Corbyn said he had been supporting and has been involved in his local mosque for more than 30 years. “I saw it being built and I have held advice bureaus here, and so having the open day bringing in the entire community of all faiths is great. And that’s what, actually, Islam is about. It’s about charity, about support, and about peace.”

Officials at Havering Islamic Cultural Centre used the open day to fundraise for a local (St Francis) hospice, raising £2,500. The day was also important because the mosque is under threat. “The council has partnered with a local developer and is going to compulsory purchase the land. This puts us in a very difficult position as the community fought and worked very hard to build this mosque and have it freehold. We were presenting our vision for the future, a stunning vision designed by a world-leading architect. The issue is, our place here is under threat”, Trustee Umer Sharif told The Muslim News.

The London Central Mosque had a very successful open day with more than 500 people visiting the centre. Dr Ahmad Al-Dubayan, Director of the mosque, said, “It is very important that the community members get the opportunity to visit our Centre as we can build positive relations to help strengthen the local and wider society.”

Balham Mosque & Tooting Islamic Centre welcomed over 120 visitors in their two sites. Arshad Daud, Assistant Secretary said, “Since the previous event in 2017, we as a community have been through a lot of hardship with the events such as Grenfell, London Bridge and Manchester. Despite these tragic moments, we have seen that irrespective of faith, our community really pulled together and that makes a huge difference. Visit My Mosque Day this year was more a celebration of the outreach programmes we have been conducting to create harmonious relationships with our local communities. Initiatives such as Break Fast during Ramadan, The Big Food Drive, in association with Muslim Aid in January, our ongoing Rohingya Appeal, and our Grenfell collections have all captured the spirit and imaginations of our neighbours and non-muslim communities, where they have engaged positively to focus on the common thread of humanity.”

SOUTH EAST

Prime Minister, Theresa May, Windsor and Maidenhead Council leader and reps from Thames Valley Police visited Maidenhead Central Mosque in Berkshire, where they inspected artefacts including an 18th century Quran. She thanked the mosque for organising the open day and giving “opportunity to come and learn more about the Islamic faith.” May said she was “glad to see people of different faith communities” participating in the event and the Muslim community contributing to the community of Maidenhead.

Saghir Ahmed, Secretary of the mosque said that May has attended her local mosque on numerous occasions before but “this time it was special because she came as a Prime Minister. She has always been very supportive of Maidenhead Mosque and the great work we are doing in the community in building and strengthening relations amongst peoples of all faiths and none.”

150 people visit KSI Muslim Community of Milton Keynes (KSIMK), mosque officials said they have had anecdotal feedback from a few visitors on how the day helped clear misconceptions about Islam.

A spokesman for KSIMK  told  The Muslim News, “Events like these in the current climate are imperative to combat the misconceptions that many people harbour with regards to Islam & Muslims. It was a joy to see the participation from our neighbours and invitees, and it was a pleasure to watch our guests involve themselves on the day by tasting the snacks that had been prepared for them, applying henna, taking selfies with hijabs on and most importantly asking questions about the Centre and Islam in general”.

In Surrey, Camberley Mosque hosted almost 100 people. A spokesman for the mosque said they had extremely positive feedback, “43% noted the event as ‘welcoming/friendly’ with the remaining 57% noting the event as ‘informative/interesting’”.

60 members of the public visited Jamia Masjid & Islamic Centre in Slough, among them local MP Tan Desi, Head of Fire Service, Age Concern, Turning Point Anti-Addiction, Slough Borough Council Fostering, local churches as well as the British Army from their Barracks in Windsor.  One visitor Mrs Trent said she , “has lived in Slough for over 60 years & have always wanted to see inside a mosque. I was very impressed. The people in the mosque were very friendly, helpful  & welcoming.  I was given a ‘goody’ bag to take away which contained some very informative leaflets including a copy of the Holy Quran which I will treat with great respect & find very interesting to read.  Thank you for giving this opportunity.”

Event Organiser  Umar Ansari said, “Muslims in Slough are part of the social fabric of our community, and it is vital that we demonstrate to the wider public that Muslims have a positive contribution to make towards all aspects of our Town. The Visit My Mosque Open Day gave us the opportunity to allow our wider community to visit us and form their own, informed views about our Mosque and our community. We are humbled by the overwhelming messages of support that we have received, and will continue in our resolve to make the Jamia Masjid Slough a hub of intercommunity dialogue and welfare.”

NORTH 

Leeds Grand Mosque  attracted 150 people with an exhibition area, information stalls, talks and a chance to observe the afternoon prayer. “We had the opportunity to speak to many people and received positive feedback. It was a true celebration of the diversity in our communities” committee member Rose Townsend told The Muslim News. The mosque’s Chair, Dr Ihab Ibrahim, spoke of the importance to engage with the public to counter “the increasing number of hate crimes” adding the open day provided an opportunity to understand Islam “from our perspective. For most non-Muslims, the only Islamic education they receive is through the media alone.”

EAST

150 people visited Masjid Khadijah Islamic Centre Peterborough. Amir Suleman, Head of Outreach and Events, said, “It is so heartening to have the support of many people visit our Masjid and leave with a positive and, crucially, changed outlook.”

Luton-based UKIM Madinah Masjid hosted the Sheriff of Bedfordshire, the mayor, local councillors and inter-faith leaders alongside 100 non-Muslim visitors. “We presented the various activities that take place in a mosque and addressed the question ‘What is Islam?’ The activities of UKIM ICare relief in the UK were highlighted and cheques for £1381 for Macmillan cancer support and £1,885 for Luton and Dunstable helipad project were handed to representatives of both charities,” said a spokesman.

NORTH WEST

Hundreds of people visited three local mosques in Rochdale. Bilal Mosque was visited by the mayor, the council leader, other faith leaders and Greater Manchester Police. “At the end, people were even exchanging numbers and this environment was the outcome that we wanted all along,” said Imam Hassanat Ahmed. Tahir Mahmood of Golden Mosque said: “Having done these open days for a few years now, we know how important it is to reach out to our non-Muslim neighbours and establish a cohesive community.” Neeli Mosque spokesman told The Muslim News: “We had a steady stream of visitors throughout the day and the feedback we received has been very positive.”

In Liverpool Abdullah Quilliam Mosque and Heritage Centre hosted a Victorian-themed open day. The event was hosted at England’s first mosque at Brougham Terrace which was established by Abdullah Quilliam in 1889, a prominent solicitor who had converted to Islam. He formed a community of 500 white British Muslims and oversaw their needs and growth over a 20 year period. The open day was more than a mosque tour and celebrated the life Quilliam featuring displays of Victorian costumes, horse and carriage rides, candy carts and tours of the building including and a fully functioning Victorian kitchen. Visitor Lyn said she “had a lovely warm welcome” and “learned lots about Islam but also about the heritage of this great building, which was at one time used by the local authority as a registry office for births and marriages”.

Cheshire’s Warrington Islamic Centre took part in the open day initiative for the third consecutive year. Imtiaz Jamil, General Secretary, Warrington Islamic Association told The Muslim New, “Those that visited were extremely grateful for the opportunity and we had many comments like ‘we didn’t know what happened in a mosque until today’  and ‘it’s wonderful peaceful space where one feels at home’ and ‘we can’t wait for the next one! ’ ”

He added, “All the Committee Members together with the Warrington Muslim community fully understand that in the current climate, letting people know about the true teachings of Islam and about our Holy Prophet, peace and blessings upon him and his family, is much needed to counter the negative narrative about Muslims in the world today. We may not be able to change the world view but we can certainly help to change the local view.”

More than a third of Bolton Council of Mosques affiliates threw open their doors, with one mosque facilitating a ‘human library’ where visitors were able to speak to and borrow the imam, new reverts and female volunteers. One such Bolton mosque is Taiyabah Mosque which hosted the mayor and local church leaders. “Led by our Imam and members of the local community, we covered the daily practices of a Muslim living in the UK and the function of the mosque, also showing the plans of the New Taiyabah Mosque and Education Centre,” a spokesman told The Muslim News.

Hayes-based Quba Masjid and Education Centre inaugural open day attracted 300 visitors. The centre’s Manager, Abdulqaadir Ibrahim, told The Muslim News, “It was better than expected, we had organised an Islamic exhibition with help of Kings Masjid and prepared refreshments. The importance of this great day can be fully understood only if you experience yourself and you see many visitors of different background and religion coming to the event and welcoming and speaking with them will definitely encourage you to do more often.”

SCOTLAND

Mosques in Scotland also took part in the open day Aberdeen Mosque and Islamic Centre hosted 50 members of the general public. A spokesman for the mosque told The Muslim News, “We firmly believe that the mosque should be an open and approachable facility. As a policy we welcome visitors so that community relations and understanding can be promoted and built upon.”

WALES

Swansea Mosque opened its doors to the general public for tea, refreshments and an insight into the day-to-day life of the Muslim community and to promote greater understanding of Islam.

“Nearly 300 people visited Swansea Mosque during the open day. We made lots of new friends and it was also great to see old friends and colleagues again. We had positive feedback on the Islam Exhibition and the tours of the New mosque were oversubscribed, but the volunteers did a great job to accommodate everyone. Oh yes, and the food was delicious too!,” said Zaffer Azad, Visit day coordinator.

WEST MIDLANDS

Over 100 people visited KSIMC of Birmingham. “The day brought in many local people including priests and religious figures from local places of worship. They were all treated to a talk on harmony, a nasheed from our very own young artists , calligraphy demonstration and some scrumptious food. It was a day of networking and fun where we have built some great friendships and hope to engage in social projects together,” said a spokesman.

 

#VisitMyMosque 2018 in pictures

(Photo: Havering Islamic Cultural Centre)

(Photo: Finsbury Park Mosque)

(Photo: Masjid Khadija Islamic Centre Peterborough)

(Photo: Swansea Mosque)

(Photo: KSIMC Birmingham)

(Photo: Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre)

(Photo: Warrington Islamic Centre)

(Photo: Taiyabah Mosque)

(Photo: Bilal Mosque)

(Photo: Jamia Masjid & Islamic Centre)

(Photo: KSI Muslim Community of Milton Keynes)

(Photo: Camberley Mosque)

(Photo: Balham Mosque & Tooting Islamic Centre)

One Response to “Over 200 UK mosques take part in open day”

Abubakar DanrakaApril 2, 2018

Its so impressive. Thank God for the success recorded in the event across the UK. Such open days should be emulated and replicated in other countries so as to promote brotherliness and good neighborliness to our hosts.

Reply

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