AFTER Visit My Mosque day last year 2015 a TV reporter claimed she’d been ushered out of the mosque she’d entered. For any reporter, that would be a story.
But – as you’ve probably guessed – it wasn’t true, and she had to apologise.
The welcome was warm. Teabags and, uhm, instant coffee, were instantly offered and a waist-threatening selection of biscuits and cakes was continually refreshed.
Juber Hussain, the relaxed presenter of an informative film on Islam in England set out to answer all questions.
Perhaps he was a little unspecific about whether the Saudi export of Islam known as salafism had a spiritual home at the ELM and he was unable to explain why not one mosque in Hackney had taken part in the scheme, even though they were almost certainly of the same variety of the faith, Sunni, as that predominating at Whitechapel.
It is possible that the Hackney mosques are not linked to the Muslim Council of Britain, which organised the open day to counter misunderstandings of Islam.
Millennials and the middle-aged were well-represented among the mostly white visitors, who said, over refreshments, that they had been pleasantly surprised at what they’d learnt, eg, that sermons are not overly longer than in churches (hmmm, 20 minutes seems long) and that they are repeated in several languages, including signing for the deaf.
Soon the call to prayer could be heard, sweetly sounding over the PA. About 1,500 men prostrated themselves in the prayer hall and about half that number of females in a separate hall, where the service was relayed.
Outside, latecomers bustled towards the main entrance. A Roma woman, her headscarf looking a little odd with her colourful Gypsy skirt, flourished a cardboard note bespeaking her economic woes in an attempt to cash in on the Muslim requirement to give alms to the needy.
The need for pray, however, was overwhelming and the would-be worshippers rushed through the doors and into the soothing interior.
Hamish Scott 050216
* East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre, 46 Whitechapel Road E1 1JX (020 7650 3000). By the end of Visit My Mosque Day, more than 200 non-Muslims had visited the 7,000-capacity ELM, some of them clearly interested in enquiring further.
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