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#VisitMyMosque Day shows we have much work to do

In light of the uproar caused by Donald Trump’s “Muslim Ban”, thousands of Britons had the opportunity to see the true face of Islam and Muslims in the UK on Sunday 5th February. 150 mosques across the UK welcomed in their neighbours from all backgrounds for #VisitMyMosque Day.

Visit My Mosque Day aims to

  • —Encourage all mosques in Britain to hold an open day at least once per year;
  • —Foster better community relations and community cohesion for the good of society as a whole;
  • —Work for a more enlightened appreciation of Islam and Muslims in the wider society;
  • —Work to reduce misconceptions about Islam and Muslims in Britain;
  • —Celebrate the vast array of charitable, outreach and social action projects performed by mosques in Britain.

The objective of fostering a better understanding of Islam is ever more needed in today’s climate of rising Islamophobia and fake news. As well as explaining the foundations of Islam, the daily prayers and the influence of Islam on a Muslim’s everyday life, the mosques took the opportunity to demonstrate the role of Muslims in society by highlighting the community-related endeavours mosques embark on including distributing food, offering shelter to the homeless and giving aid to displaced refugees.

“As the world recoils at President Trump’s so called ‘Muslim Ban’ and the mass killing at a mosque in Canada, [Visit My Mosque day] is a much needed antidote to the poisonous atmosphere we find ourselves in,” said Harun Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. “The British public, Muslim and non-Muslim, have an opportunity to come together and renew bonds of friendship.”[1]

Unfortunately, for many non-Muslims, the only Islamic education they receive is through biased media and zealous anti-Islam propagandists. Exposure such as this is imperative in countering malicious narratives constantly pushed out. Visit My Mosque Day is an excellent platform by which to achieve this and it also serves to encourage Muslims to engage in such initiatives of community cohesion on more than just a single day of the year.

With the scores of attendees protesting the “Muslim Ban”, it is clear that there is a desire for tolerance, integration and solidarity with Muslims from people of other faiths.[2] The onus is on the Muslim community to reach out, to set an example and to embody the teachings of Islām to eradicate the misconceptions surrounding our dīn, to illustrate its beauty and to share its benefits.

Harun Khan elaborates on his hope of strengthening the bond between Muslims and the communities they belong to by reminding and encouraging Muslims to be proactive members of their communities.

“We Muslims should remind ourselves that we are at our best when we reach out, share our faith and welcome fellow citizens into our home.”[3]

This echoes the verse in which Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) says,

“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best.”[4]

As ambassadors of Islām, we must rise above our fears and engage with our neighbours. We should be inviting others with wisdom, welcoming them into our communities and engaging with them with excellent character. In Shamāʾil al-Muḥammadiyyah by Imām Tirmidhī (raḥimahu Allāhu),[5] the Prophetic characteristic of perfect morals and manners is described.

“Whoever accompanied him and got to know him would love him…”

This would occur to the point that that the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) became more beloved to a person than his father, his child, and indeed the whole of mankind. This was because he possessed perfect morals and manners, compassion and kindness and innate humility. He was a person who would captivate hearts and unite them.[6] Such should our character be; after all, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was gifted to mankind to perfect our character and it was the beautification of the people’s character that attracted people to Islām in the time of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) and his Sahāba (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhum).

Imam Shakeel Begg of the Lewisham Islamic Centre said,

“Nearly 400 people attended the open day including teachers, journalists, councillors, police, neighbours, faith leaders, actors, children and others who came to our centre and made the day a great success and a source of inspiration. It was truly a humbling and inspiring day for me to meet so many people who came to show solidarity with Muslims, see their place of worship, how they worship and, at times, to see people crying, overwhelmed with their love and support for Muslims. The day was most definitely a #BridgesNotWalls day for us all.”

Since Sunday people have been contacting their local mosques and thanking them for the opportunity to learn about Muslims and Islam first hand. One of our regular authors, Shaikh Abu Rumaysah’s local mosque, Wycombe Islamic Society (WISE) shared some of the feedback they received:

“I would just like to say thank you so much for a wonderful visit – really interesting, and what a lovely, warm, hospitable welcome! (Plus the canapés were delicious). It was a privilege to meet you all. Thank you! xx” —Margo

“Thank you for inviting us to the open day at your Mosque. It was the first time that Matthew and I have ever been to a Mosque and found the visit very interesting. We were grateful to have been made to feel so very welcome by everyone we spoke to. Thank you again.” —Ruth

“This was a great event. Thank you so much to everyone at the mosque for organising and being so welcoming.” —Libby

“We really enjoyed our time at the Mosque this afternoon. Learned so much and have brought home lots to read too. Our little one is 3 so I expect we will be back so he can learn more as he gets older. Thank you! PS – he really enjoyed the cake.” —Helen

“Enlightening visit yesterday – learnt a lot and met some lovely people. What a great initiative #VisitMyMosque” —Vanessa

“My husband Ben is not on Facebook but just wanted to pass on that he really enjoyed visiting WISE mosque yesterday. Everyone was really welcoming, it was good to learn more about Islam and pleasing to find out about all the great charity work you’re doing as part of the community. Kind regards” —Tamsin

Reading messages of people wishing to take the initiative and learn about Islam first hand is heartening, however if we reflect past the initial reaction we will find a worrying reality. How many people are out there searching for the Guidance of their Creator? How many people are there sincerely looking for a way to fulfil the desire to glorify Allah that is embedded within their fitra (innate, natural disposition)? When we look at just a small sample of people who, instead of being satisfied with ignorance and illiteracy of Islam, take the initiative to learn for themselves from Muslims, we see that we have an immense responsibility before us as a community.

Watching some of the videos that have been shared on social media of people watching Muslims pray, it struck me that many people were listening to the words of their Lord being recited for the very first time; words which they have a right over us to convey to them. We often get an incorrect impression from a small but vocal group of internet trolls and Islamophobes of all stripes and colours and often ignore the fact that there could be millions of people who sincerely wish to seek the truth. What will be our answer if that neighbour, colleague or classmate that walks past our local mosque everyday, comes up to us in the pandemonium of the Day of Judgement saying,

“I was your neighbour for 20 years…why didn’t you tell me about this?”

Upon us is not to change people’s hearts, but to simply and clearly show them and invite them to the truth. It is between them and Allah whether they are able to resist the propaganda, shubuhat (specious arguments) and ephemeral whims and desires that stand between them and Islam. Regardless of whose heart Allah opens towards the truth, it is clear that Sunday’s #VisitMyMosque Day must only be the beginning.

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[4] Al-Qur’ān, 16:25

[6] Munāwī

About Ayshah Syed

Ayshah Syed studied English at Goldsmiths University of London, followed by a Masters in Comparative Literary Studies. During her years at university she became involved in da'wah, volunteering for various Islamic organisations. She has studied Arabic and works as an English-Spanish translator. She recently edited 'Meadows of the Divine: 40 Prophetic Traditions on the Virtues and Rulings of the Qur'an' by Sheikh Alomgir Ali, as well as other projects and publications for MRDF. She is currently working as Editor for Islam21c.

8 comments

  1. ‘“I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him – the wonderful man and in my opinion for from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the saviour of Humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.” [G.B. Shaw, THE GENUINE ISLAM, Vol. No. 81936.’

    Where did Shaw say this? The Genuine Islam is not the title of a book by Shaw and almost certainly not the title of an article either, so it is almost certainly a citation by someone else, so where are they quoting Shaw from? The books and magazines with that title listed at http://www.worldcat.com certainly didn’t have over 80,000 volumes.

    We can learn more about Shaw’s actual opinion of Mohammed and muslims from his own works: for example: “The humane Mahomet could not convince the Arabs that this [literally throwing away the unwanted child, especially the female child, and leaving it to perish of exposure] was sinful; but he told them that on the Day of Judgment the female child that was exposed would rise up and ask ‘What fault did I commit?'” which looks very much as if Shaw thought Mahomet was lying to muslims.

  2. Zulfiqar Haqq

    Assalamalaikum. Spot on, and yes there is much work to be done and this initiative is one great strand of this that we should push forward on because the whole ethos is nice, safe, friendly, welcoming, ie v well suited to cultural norms and pretty much how we should be as Muslims anyway!

    And this is one strand of many, how you carry yourself as a Muslim is shaping Islam in people’s minds all the time. Are you honest, are you fair? Do you say and do the morally right things? People can’t help but notice that so go on, put yourself out there and enjoy it. There is this new generation of proud Muslims coming through who are keen and stylish in their modest appearance, welcoming to all, shining examples of how we can simply ‘integrate’ (in the proper and best meaning of the word) and just by working alongside people, living amongst them, talking about Islam – they are already drawn to the truth, we simply are presenting it in the most beautiful way.

    Look at us! We’re the best you can imagine! All we do is pray to the one and only Allah! And when we’re not praying, we’re giving to charity! And when we’re not giving to charity, we’re fasting! And when we have fun we play hard and do so without crossing the bounds of lewdness or immorality. People see that and can’t help but be drawn to such a fabulous lifestyle because it’s so clearly the best.


  3. Native Brits must learn to respect and tolerate those who are different. ”
    The way muslims respect other muslims, and bahais, perhaps?

    “There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school.”
    Is there any place for muslims in a non-muslim country, then?

  4. Visit a Masjid. A non-Muslim thinks that he is going to visit a Masjid belonging to Muslims. The fact of the matter is that he is going to visit Beralivi, Doebandi and Shia Masajid. On top of that he is going to visit a Masjid belonging to Pakistanis, Guajarati, Bengali, Arab and Turkish. For a non-Muslims we are Muslims. “Muslims Out” could be seen out side a Masjid in Sunderland. Trump banned the Muslims entering USA. In India Hindus would like to see Indian Muslims going either to Pakistan or to Qubarstan. Can’t we call ourselves just Muslims! Islam is, of course, a “Western” religion, sharing deep roots with Judaism and Christianity
    Muslims are also a strong presence in “the West”

    Islam is the second-largest religion in Canada, Britain, and France, and may well be the second-largest religion in the United States
    “Islam in the West” recognizes the entwined heritage of Islam and the West.

    The West as we know it would not be what it is without the contribution of Muslims and Jews (and others as well)

    Are the ‘Western’ (cf. also ‘Christian’) and ‘Middle Eastern/Islamic’ worlds destined to……be in perpetual conflict with one another?…convert the ‘other’ to their way of viewing and living in the world (politically, culturally, religiously, economically, etc.)?…co-exist peacefully and even cooperatively with one another in the same world while allowing one another to retain their own unique worldviews and life ways?

    According to the Holy Quran, all children are born Muslims, it is their parents who make them Jew, Christian or others. This is one of the many reasons why now western peoples are reverting to Islam on their own free will. Through out the history, Muslims never forced non-Muslims to accept Islam. This is the main reason why Muslims lost Spain and India.

    The beauty of Islam is that it is a religion which appeals to common sense. There is no blind belief or dogmatism in Islam. The fundamentals of Islam are simple, straightforward and easy to understand.

    If Islam is so bad, then why is it the WORLD’S FASTEST GROWING RELIGION! It is also one of the youngest religions. However no matter how hard everyone tries to give Islam a bad name, it will be twice as more populated. So let’s get straight to the point yeah?, Basically Islam is the most hated religion I don’t know why hmm maybe because it is also the most fastest growing religion and 2nd largest but no one will be able to stop this religion from growing.

    Islam is the fastest growing faith in Britain. Hundreds and thousands of Brits are reverting to Islam. By the middle of this century, over half of Brits would be Muslims.
    “I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him – the wonderful man and in my opinion for from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the saviour of Humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.” [G.B. Shaw, THE GENUINE ISLAM, Vol. No. 81936.

    Today, many non-Muslims regard Islam as a religion that promotes violence, terrorism and war. Unfortunately, they rely in their view of Islam on the general media, which is not always accurate in reporting the news. Many media outlets, such as TV, radio, newspapers and magazines, are influenced by their investors or owners who have certain agendas and who want to promote certain values and points of view. Other media outlets are simply after the “big story”, in order to make more money and more profits. Others are simply “followers”, who only gather news from other sources, re-package it and try to sell it again purely as a business.

    In all these cases, the news reporting is not accurate, but is driven by ulterior motives or simply by profits. Only very few media organizations are committed to providing accurate and true information, regardless of financial gain. Therefore, people today should be very careful in what they take from the media.

    Before blindly accepting what the TV, radio or newspaper is reporting, one should think critically about what is being reported. Is this being reported accurately, or is it being exaggerated or even completely fabricated? Who are these people reporting the news, and do they have vested interests to report the story in a certain way, or are they completely objective and fair? Critical thinking is very important in all aspects of life, especially when it comes to accepting the media reports about important and controversial issues.

    Islam is in fact a religion that promotes peace and understanding among people of all faiths, and it strongly prohibits all forms of violence and aggression against all people regardless of their faith or race.

    Native Brits must learn to respect and tolerate those who are different. The needs and demands of the Muslim community are different from those of natives. Muslims are in Britain not to give up their cultural heritage. They must integrate in their new home country, learn new languages and apply for political representation — without forgetting their cultural heritage. It is important to learn Standard English, but their languages should not be neglected. They need Masajid and grave yards. Muslim children not only need halal meat or Eid Holidays but they need state funded Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their development period also. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school.
    IA
    http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

  5. Assalamu alaikum,

    Not over yet. Tea and Tour 2017 – Baitul Aziz Masjid is hosting an open day in the 12th feb 2017. Address: Baitul Aziz Masjid, 1 Dickson Square, London SE1 4JL. Time: from 12 noon to 5:30pm inshallah.
    Contact Imran: 07985 424 543 for details.

    Ws br Omar

  6. Naved Siddiqi

    Say 30 years ago, or 20, whenever people visited mosques, there was always a propagation element, conversion, to use another word. It was there is the booklets and in the discussion.

    Only now have we moved towards a better and fairer area, that is, genuine strong social relations without an agenda for conversion. Although it may appear that we Muslims have reached out to people this year, what has actually happened in 2017 is that so many people, including US multinational corporations, have reached out to Muslims, extending a hand of human support.

    But we risk losing much of this genuine support if we register a “worrying reality” about not strategically aiming at conversions to Islam. We actually risk going backwards in our understanding of social relations, and even harming the goodwill being shown. No one really likes having their trusting hand of friendship being schemed in any way (think about being on the receiving end).

    We have to rethink this urgent imperative we insist upon ourselves to propagate (thinking which was driven heavily in the 1980s by Saudi Islamic thought on the ‘legitimacy’ of living in Darul Kufr), and get comfortable with social relations without inert dawah aims.

    There is an irony to this: When we reach out to others, open doors, build bonds, do the same to others by return (e.g. Run to support others under fire), and when we are genuinely there to HELP others, when we touch people in that way without judgment, scheme or wanting a return, then the real beauty of Islam shines through more brightly anyway. That must surely be so.

    I hold Islam to be a truth and light so strong and bright that it can look after itself. It’s human relations, bringing out our humanity through them, that worries me. But I see so much hope and promise too.

    • I—and many converts/reverts to Islam I know—am always offended by the sentiments embedded your comment. I hope that people with your thinking will be replaced by *British* Muslims who genuinely feel at home here and genuinely want good for their fellow Britons—the greatest good being Islam.

      You seem to have an inherent immigrant mentality, that you feel your (and by extension islam) doesn’t *really* belong here. This is what you (and I hope a diminishing number of others) delude yourselves into abandoning your divine obligation towards the people of Britain—who are also God’a creatures and equally (if not more) worthy of being informed of His Guidance.

      You can use childish playground slurs against Saudis or any other nation/racial/ethnic/religious group but you cannot hide the truth of the matter—that you are using it as an excuse to hide *The Truth*.

      Despite the author of this article clearly outlining a different need, you keep saying “conversion” (a loaded word from Christendom), again to convince yourself out of the obligation to your neighbours. Shaytan has indeed beautified and made fairseeming the negligence and condemnation of the highest order towards your fellow human being.

      Again, I really do hope you are a minority and the that the general body of Muslims outside the Islamic world have moved on from such a migrant mentality.

    • Zulfiqar Haqq

      I think this is a slightly odd or perhaps disingenuous view simply on the basis that a person’s success is entirely dependent on their subservience to their lord. It’s very odd to rally against encouraging people to convert to islam when their hereafter depends on it. Would you not stop someone speeding towards disaster? Don’t be disheartened if you’ve had bad experiences doing dawah as this happened to even many Prophets, but be proud and carry your Islam with honour and izzah. Talking about Islam is both fun, serious and enlivening because the reality is people aren’t often ‘real’ with each other and what can be more real than the reality of life. And then simply make dua that Allah makes you the key to open other’s hearts to jannah.

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