Welcome to Whitechapel (but not to Hackney mosques)

ELM: East London Mosque on Visit Your Mosque Day 070216 © david.altheer@gmail.com
East London Mosque on Visit Your Mosque Day 070216 © david.altheer@gmail.com
Islamicurious: visitors chat during a tea-break, top, and, above, in the prayer hall

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 guessedit wasn’t true, and she had to apologise.

In that sense, Loving Dalston failed to get a story on its Visit My Mosque Day outing to the East London Mosque (ELM) in Whitechapel. About 80 mosques around Britain took part.

ELMfood: East London (Whitechapel) Mosque on Visit Your Mosque Day 070216 © david.altheer@gmail.com
Feeding the soul: visitor talks with one of the mosque’s woman helpers

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.

ELMpray: East London Mosque on Visit Your Mosque Day 070216 © david.altheer@gmail.com
Keeping the faith: men of the East London Mosque at prayer

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.

Rommuslim: Romany (ex Romanian) poses at East London mosque as poor Muslim widow to beg alms as Sylhetis and other Bengalis go to Sunday 1pm prayers 070216 ©
“I beg you!” Roma outside the mosque

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.

* An ELM video made by the controversial Press TV.

* Cyclists can join a fundraising Ride4yourmosque from Windsor Castle on Sunday 20 March 2016 at 10am to London E1 1JX  (arrival about 5pm), fee £20.

* All pictures on this page © DavidAltheer[at]gmail.com. All for sale for reproduction. Most photographs are available bigger.

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.

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One thought on “Welcome to Whitechapel (but not to Hackney mosques)

  1. Can lady pray the last ten days prayer in white chapel mosque I mean lstkfa.

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