Telford Central Mosque throws doors open for community day
It welcomes more than 400 people to prayers every Friday but yesterday Telford's Central Mosque hosted some new guests at a community open day.
The event, which was organised by the Shropshire Islamic Foundation, gave people a chance to look around the mosque, to view plans to improve the building for the future, watch prayers taking place, and find out more about the role it plays in the local community.
Dr Mohammed Qureshi, a 69-year-old GP from Madeley and a founding trustee of Shropshire Islamic Foundation, said they had wanted to give people a chance to understand more about the faith and to show "there is more that unites us than divides us".
Dr Qureshi said the new facilities, which are still being completed at the King Street venue, would allow more space for education, community events, and for the mosque's female visitors.
He said: "For the last 40 odd years out Mosque was at Tan Bank but it has not got the facilities for the teaching, the class rooms or the facilities for women."
The congregation has raised money and made donations towards the renovation of the Central Mosque's King Street building in Wellington, with Dr Qureshi revealing that some people had donated their own savings to the project.
A bungalow at the site is also being renovated to host community activities, such as health and fitness classes
Dr Qureshi said the day had also been held to break down barriers and give people more of an understanding about Islam.
He said: "We wanted to share what we have in common with our religion, with Christianity."
He added: "There is a misconception about Islam, some people hijack the name of Islam and it is not in our name. Islam has nothing to do with terrorism.
"There are 1.8 billion Muslims around the world and in that number of people you will get some bad apples. Islam means peace, but the media pays a lot of attention to the lunatics and the bad apples."
Dr Ekram Khalifa, of Priorslee, said she hoped the day had allowed people to find out more about the mosque.
She said: "I know a few ladies who were so excited, they said "we have never been to a Mosque, we did not know we could go", I said "of course you can!"."
Dr Khalifa said part of the open day was to counter misconceptions about the faith.
She said: "It has a very bad reputation in the media for what some bad people do and we wanted people to see what the majority of us are like.
"We would say come and see for yourself, come and join in, come and see on a Friday, listen to the imam and what he has to say. It is the first time we have done this and hopefully we will have more events like this in the future."
Dr Khalifa spoke of the importance of the mosque as the centre of the Muslim community.
She said: "For us as Muslims it is like a hub, so everything is going to happen here, when we have celebrations, Eid prayers the whole family will come."
Dr Khalifa said the new mosque was also exciting because it provided for the female congregation.
She said; "We are excited about how it is and the women can come have prayers. The community is growing and more Muslim people are coming here."
Jim Lavery, Councillor for Donnington said visiting the mosque would allow people to understand about the people that attend.
He said: "I think it is good that they have opened the doors because it gives people the opportunity to see the true picture, rather than perhaps some of the things we read in the paper sometimes by some of the extremists.
"I think it would be a good thing if all churches did integration programmes and I think it would help quite a lot."