UKIM Oldham were pleased to hold their very first Mosque Open day this year on the 5th February 2017, we had over 50 guests from different beliefs and backgrounds, the whole objective of the exercise was to remove misconceptions and create a holistic and loving society.
Guests had a personal tour guide to host them around the Mosque and explain to them the role of the Mosque in the society, we had visitors from as far afield as Stockport, Huddersfield and Holmfirth and were delighted to meet & discuss with them the commonalities we had and that we, have more in common than that which divides us.
The henna and food stall with teas and coffees was appreciated and all of the guests were delighted to see the initiative being taken by the local Mosque. We had a delightful exhibition tackling some of the taboos and misconceptions portrayed recently in the Media, all hosted and explained by our energetic tour guides.
Some of the feedback we received from the guests was really inspiring such as: "What a wonderful practice, the prayer really is, you start with praising almighty God and end with sending peace and blessings upon the world around you, its definitely been taken from the Christian tradition." One lady said, I came here just to ask you 2 questions and when I entered, both of the questions were answered without the need to ask anything. When we asked her what the questions were, she replied: “My first misconception was, why do you not allow women into the mosques? and when I entered, it was a beautifully dressed smiling young lady who greeted me”
“My second question was, why do your women have to cover up and the men do not? On this I was asked to try on a hijab, this experience was really humbling and I explained to my host that it made me feel secure, not knowing at the time that the whole purpose of hijab is to make you feel secure, my host even showed me the verse of the Quran explaining this, I promised to myself that I would never be as ignorant again and I shall read and cherish the Quran that was gifted to me and look forward to coming again, I was given the hosts contact details for any further questions and was asked to come and visit at any time without an appointment, ending the tour with a well executed presentation, i was made to feel like a true guest of honour”
All throughout the day, people just kept coming through the doors, we were delighted that so many people had taken time out of the busy schedule to visit the Mosque, this showed us that, initiatives like this are much needed in the community, to show love and compassion to the people that reside besides us as well as giving them a true picture of Islam and the Muslim contribution.
We had a few teachers visit us from schools and colleges, they were delighted to see a real positive proactive approach from the Muslims within the Mosque, they witnessed the Imam and committee members rolling up their sleeves with endless smiles and offerings of food and drink, as the Muslim tradition emphasis so heavily on guests and neighbours rights. Some of the teachers have taken our details and want to arrange for us to come and do a presentation on the Islamic Principles and Values for their student’s in the coming terms.
We had visits from the, the local MP, the interfaith forum along with Ministers and congregational members from various churches all excited to visit the Mosque and see first-hand of the excellent work that is being done in their local Mosque. Initiates such as the Cold Survival Kit for homeless people along with the iCare Food Aid Hub to help needy, homeless and vulnerable people. It was certainly an eye opener for our visitors as one of our guests said astonishingly,
“I didn’t even know that Mosques did this, I have always been led to believe that you just pray in the Mosque and not use it like a community Centre” When he was explained in detail that Islam is the name of a system, a way of life and not a religion, henceforth making one who submits to that system a Muss Lim (the 2 syllable Verb), he totally understood that this is the governance that is followed from the creator and one who follows that is then truly on Islam. Perhaps he understood the terminology better than me, as he was a university lecturer, who's specialist subject was english literature.
All in all it was a wonderful day and the Mosque enjoyed every minute, hosting our neighbours and guests is a mercy from the almighty and only HE, allows people to do this work.
I can't talk enough about the mesmerising day we have had along with the nature's remedies exhibition that was displayed when people tried the medicines prescribed from the Quran (Manual Of Life) they were completely and utterly astonished to find that Islam is definitely a way of life perhaps more needs to be done to show people Islam rather than just telling them to remove the hate and establish long-standing positive relationships between our neighbours within the societies in which we reside.
May God Almighty throw a veil over our shortcoming and allow us to continue.