As a family based in Preston, we’re lucky to have so many things available to do at our doorstep and in looking ahead to the weekend of 17th/18th February, I had spotted #VisitMyMosque – a national initiative facilitated by the Muslim Council of Britain, where mosques across the UK hold open days for anybody to call in and look around.Advertisement
For me, this was an opportunity to allow my children to experience what happens in mosques, to demystify the common misconceptions about Islam and for them to ask any questions that they might have. We went to Jamea Masjid (Mosque), in Avenham, having seen their tweet appear in my feed:
Today Is Our #VisitMyMosque Day @JameaMasjid
Feel Free To Come Along Anytime Between 4-7pm TODAY To Jamea Masjid
Clarendon Street PR1 3YN.
See What It Is Like Inside A Mosque.
Watch LIVE Prayers.
This Is Your Chance… #preston #mosque pic.twitter.com/n662TlMZVO
— Jamea Masjid (@JameaMasjid) February 18, 2018
Our visit was one that saw us completely welcomed from the moment we stepped foot inside. Once our shoes were removed from said foot, we were walked through the building while various aspects of it were explained – from the ablutions room to cleanse hands and feet, through the heated marble floors, to the large prayer room.
From a seated area beside this, Dr Riyaz Timol gave a brief talk about Islam: what it is, where similarities to other religions lie and how it arrived in Europe and the UK. All of this was was done in the spirit of openness and diversity; no-one was made to feel uncomfortable because of their beliefs.
After witnessing evening prayer, we were invited to ask any questions we had (trivial, philosophical, controversial or otherwise): from the ubiquity of beards to the misperceived role of women in Islam, the answers delivered were honest and didn’t hide from challenge.
Read more: Mosque in Deepdale opens for Visit My Mosque day
Upon leaving, we were offered samosa, cakes and drinks, while one of the members of the mosque offered to write our names in Arabic, which made for a nice memento of what was truly a worthwhile hour of our Sunday.
If you have any questions, doubts, worries or reservations about Islam or the Muslim community, I’d urge you to take advantage of such open days and initiatives such as #VisitMyMosque – start the conversations to learn, to get a better understanding and to make our communities in Preston even better that what they already are.