SUTTON – An open house hosted by Sutton Islamic center late last month has created a much needed bonding in the society, bringing people of different faiths and backgrounds closer in Sutton borough, London.
“It was great and really reassuring that the community supports different faiths,” Avais Malik, who works at the Islamic Centre on Oakhill Road, told Sutton Guardian.
“It was an opportunity for us to give back.”
The community event, arranged to promote unity, was held on the last night of Ramadan.
Over 100 people reportedly attended the Islamic Centre where those present were encouraged to voice concerns, ask questions and learn more about Islam.
Avais said he feels “inspired” and “excited” to continue working with people in the area.
To enhance interfaith relations, a member of the Sutton Islamic Centre visited a catholic school in Sutton on July 4 to teach the children about the Qur’an after a teacher got in touch with them following the event.
According to Avais, opening their doors to Sutton residents was “really positive” with men, women and children attending.
“We had a small talk and answered questions. While we were praying I stood at the back and spoke to the people observing us praying. We had printed out sheets explaining what we were saying in the prayers.
“Then we shared food together, a lot of people brought their own food and we shared that around. They wanted to understand about women, why we don’t drink alcohol and why we pray five times a day.
“They probably never knew these things. Everyone seemed encouraged and were comfortable asking us questions and they seemed really happy with what they saw and heard.”
Attendants included a group called HOPE Not Hate, along with local police officers, who visited the Islamic Centre to offer their support.
“It went really well. We also had a march against extremism this Saturday with all the local mosques,” Vic Paulino, local organizer for HOPE Not Hate, told Sutton Guardian.
“As for the Sutton mosque we will be working closely with them in conjunction with the Sutton MIC [More In Common] group.
Another statement from the group read: “Gatherings such as this can only help to breakdown misconceptions that we have and help us to make our communities stronger. I look forward to working alongside the Sutton Islamic Centre in the future.”
As for Sutton Islamic Centre’s future plans, Avais said that “nothing is yet concrete but we are hugely enthusiastic and want to do more in future”.
“We are proud to be a part of the community and we want to make the community proud that we are a part of it,” he added.