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UK Muslims Open Mosque Doors, Explain Faith

CAIRO – British visitors of all faiths will enjoy a free tour and tea inside more than 80 mosques spread across the country, in an effort by Muslims to “explain their faith beyond the hostile headlines”.

“Mosques across the UK will be sharing tea and refreshments alongside an insight into the day-to-day goings on of a busy Muslim center of worship,” the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said in its January press release published on their website.

“#VisitMyMosque Day aims to provide a platform for Muslims to reach out to fellow Britons and explain their faith and community beyond the hostile headlines.”

The event, held for the second time, will involve 80 of UK’s largest mosques, including the Islamic Cultural Center in London, the East London Mosque and the Birmingham Central Mosque.

Launch events are taking place in London, Leeds, Cardiff and Glasgow, welcoming men, women and children of all ages.

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“The list represents the diversity in Islamic traditions, with mosques from a wide variety of Islamic schools of thought and traditions taking part, including some of the country’s largest mosques seasoned in doing outreach activities, as well as smaller mosques holding open days for the first time,” the MCB added.

A similar event last year, involving 20 mosques, attracted hundreds of visitors for tours, talks and tea.

Interfaith Relations

The Muslim Council of Britain hopes Sunday’s open day will show unity in “a tense time for faith communities”.

“Local mosques will also be inviting inter-faith leaders as well, and all will be asked to come together to demonstrate unity and solidarity during what has been a tense time for faith communities,” the MCB statement reads.

Sajjad Amin, from Manchester’s Khizra Mosque, said it was inviting men, women and children to visit to observe prayers and see what else happens in a mosque.

“We’re promoting understanding and breaking down barriers by allowing other people to see what mosques do on a daily basis,” he told BBC’s Breakfast.

“It’s not a reaction to that [Islamophobia] – mosques have been doing this over the years. If we can increase the number of mosques participating, we can help to break down barriers,” he added.

According to the BBC, there are about three million Muslims, about 5% of the population, and an estimated 1,750 mosques in the UK.

The event comes after a rise in the number of anti-Muslim attacks in London, with hundreds reported last year.