NEWS

“We’re all neighbours here” says Imam as Masjid-E-Quba mosque opens doors to public for the first time to learn about Islam

2 Mar , 2016  

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A north London Mosque opened its doors to the public in its first ever open door event on Sunday, welcoming people of all faiths to come and learn about Islam.

Visiting Imam and Islamic scholar, Mufti Abdur Rahman Mangera, said: “What we are doing today should have been done a long time ago.”

Understanding Islam

The religious leader highlighted the importance of understanding Islam in the current political climate of fear and anxiety.

He explained: “We’re all neighbours here — when you don’t know someone and you hear about them from other sources it can be quite frightening.”

It was the first time the mosque, which was built in 1978, had been open to the public. Members said they hoped it would be the first of many opportunities to foster a culture of understanding between believers and non-believers alike.

As well as giving tours, the mosque community organised a range of educational activities, to help adults and children understand the place of worship and the beliefs of Islam. There was a comprehensive display that explored the history and beliefs of Islam. Members of the community were on hand to answer visitors’ questions.

Dr Mangera thanked everyone who attended the event. “Congratulations for coming on this freezing morning,” he said. “It’s something to be celebrated in itself, and I am very grateful that you have sacrificed your breakfast in bed.”

In order to become an imam, religious leaders must be able to recite the 800 pages of the Koran off by heart.

One in eight people in London are Muslim and Dr Mangera said he hoped the open day would be “enlightening, and allow people to see behind the closed doors of the mosque”

Cohesion

“Understanding and developing community cohesion is great for future prosperity,” he said.

The imam explained that mosques are very careful about choosing speakers to lead prayers. In 2014, Abu Hamza, the former imam of Finsbury Park mosque, was convicted of terrorist offences for assisting terror groups in New York.

The imam dismissed reports published last week of tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslims in London, and said that they were a united community.

As well as the talk, Dr Mangera gave visitors a tour around the washing facility where Muslims cleanse themselves before they pray. Two Muslims demonstrated the process of washing their mouth, nose, face, arms and feet.

Respect

Visitors removed their shoes and females were asked to cover their hair when walking around the prayer area of the mosque. The space was Turkish in style and had blue and green coloured tiles at the south-eastern corner, which is the direction of Mecca and therefore the direction in which Muslims face when they pray.

There was little decoration inside the prayer room as it is seen as a distraction. Men and women also pray in separate areas because attraction might stop them from being able to concentrate on communicating with God.

Wonderful marriage

There are classes for non-Muslims in the mosque who want to learn more about the Koran and Muslim practices. Visitors were also encouraged to take a copy of the holy book when they left.

The imam said there was a “wonderful marriage” between Muslims and Hasidic Jews in Stamford Hill, and explained that it was one of the few places on earth where the two faith groups worked intimately and successfully together.

He said that he and the local rabbi had a relationship of “mutual respect and understanding”, and enjoyed working together on a number of issues.

“I think they did an excellent job, it’s amazing to see so many people of different colours and faiths come together”, said Sam Malik, Conservative assembly candidate for north east London.

Mr Malik added: “Members of the Jewish community came in and I think they would be more than happy to have a similar event. It’s not just about the wider community but how religious communities can help each other and foster a relationship of respect.

Police

Also present were a handful of policemen who  talked to members of the community.

“It was great that the police came and they were able to interact. It’s important to fight islamophobia not only in the public domain but the police too.”

Mr Malik estimated that there were between 140-150 people in the morning session and over 150 in the afternoon.

“Volunteers were running around like crazy to try and make sure drinks and food were there and everyone was happy. It was interesting to see people praying– you realise there’s nothing dangerous about it– visitors realise that these people are just like me.”

Two speakers at the open day explaining Islam

Two speakers at the open day

 

 

 

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2 Responses

  1. Hannah Lawrence says:

    Hi there,

    Thanks for your comment, we’ve updated the piece to include your points.

    Thanks a lot!

  2. Ismail says:

    Great article, thank you for taking the time to visit and for the excellent coverage of the event. Just two minor corrections (as a regular attendee of the Mosque and volunteer at the event):
    1. Members of the public have been visiting the Mosque for many years (decades) with school-groups and Muslims bringing non-Muslim friends to visit/observe etc, but this was the first time where everyone was welcome to an open door event
    2. As someone who was therefore from 10am to 7pm (the dreaded post-event tidy-up!!) we had around 140-150 people in the morning session and slightly more in the afternoon session, many more than we were expected so thank you to all those that took the time to attend!

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