BONDING: People of all faiths - and non-faiths - gathered in the mosque to learn about Islam and ask questions
BONDING: People of all faiths – and non-faiths – gathered in the mosque to learn about Islam and ask questions

Visit my mosque!

The Leeds Grand Mosque opened its doors to the general public as part of ‘Visit My Mosque’ – or #VisitMyMosque on twitter – a nationwide initiative facilitated by The Muslim Council of Britain.

The event included an exhibition that provided an opportunity for visitors to learn more about Islam and Muslims; a short address from the Imam of the mosque and Rev Heston; a presentation by the Chair of the Committee; and finally, attendees were given the chance to ask questions comfortably and observe the Maghreb – or sunset – prayer.

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The event brought together representatives from religious groups, the local police force, community groups and the general public.

Dr Ihab Ibrahim, LGM Committee Chair said: “The event was a fantastic opportunity to open the doors of our mosque to many people, some for whom this was the first time. The talks made by our Imam Shayk Taher and Rev Heston, and the Q&A session, all helped to make the event very special.”

Rev Heston Groenewald, of All Hallows Church said: “Little Woodhouse and Hyde Park Neighbourhood Forums are thrilled to work with LGM and other community partners, to turn neighbours into friends and seek the good of our brilliant neighbourhood.”

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Commenting on the Open Days initiative, Imam of Makkah Masjid, Dr Qari Asim MBE  said: “The event was an eye-opener for many. The unanimous feedback amongst those who attended the Mosque was that the experience was informative, enjoyable and spiritually uplifting. It is hoped that by providing an opportunity for people of other faiths to explore the beauty of Islam within the setting of the Mosque’s traditional architectural designs and contemporary styles, the whole community has benefited from greater respect and mutual understanding.”

The Visit My Mosque Day comes after 200 demonstrators of the Pegida anti-Islam movement staged a silent march in Birmingham on Saturday.

Caroline Wyatt, the BBC’s religious affairs correspondent, said the protest was a sign of the fears over Islam.

The number of anti-Muslim attacks in London has risen since the attacks in Paris, with hundreds being attacked, according to figures issued by the Met.

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The Met said in the week prior to the attacks in France on 13th November there were 24 recorded Islamophobic incidents. Two weeks after there were 76.

There are more than 2.5 million Muslims in the UK and more than 1,500 mosques. The mosque is a place to gather for prayers, to study and to celebrate festivals such as Ramadan. It can also be used to house schools and community centres.

In the spirit of dialogue, friendship and local community engagement, LGM hopes to continue its mission in building and strengthening the bridges between the Muslim community and the local faith and non-faith organisations, statutory agencies, and local people.