Herts Advertiser Report

Herts Advertiser Report

Members of the St Albans Islamic Centre in Hatfield Road, St Albans, are hoping to break down any barriers between themselves and the rest of the city.

The mosque, which is currently undergoing a revamp to offer improved washing facilities and prayer space, opened its doors in 1978.

Nowadays it sees up to 100 men daily for prayer, which is held five times, and up to 500 men for the Friday sermon and 100 women.

During the month of Ramadhan, the Musali – the Arabic equivalent of a congregation – can get even bigger. 

Numan Khalid, the centre’s assistant secretary, said: “At our mosque our brothers and sisters are from many different backgrounds - Indian, Pakistani, Bengali, Mauritian, Egyptian, Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian, Nigerian, Somali, Saudi, Sudanese, Turkish, Albanian, Iraqi.

“We also have people who come to pray who are English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, and Jamaican too, amongst them many new Muslims.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder in daily prayers, and it is indeed a wonderful thing to behold every time I attend mosque!”

Mr Khalid, whose parents were originally from Pakistan, has been volunteering at the mosque for over 10 years.

He moved to St Albans with his family in 1994 from Barnet because there was no mosque there in which they could pray. 

He said: “Some recent events around the world, including the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, have put Islam in the news again for various reasons.

“We at the centre have found that local Muslims feel there are many misconceptions about Islamic beliefs and teachings amongst the general public.

“Islam is one of the three main Abrahamic faiths of the world, along with Judaism and Christianity.

“We believe in One God, in the Angels created by Him, in the prophets through whom His revelations were brought to mankind, in the Day of Judgement and in life after death.”

But as for a heightened sense of animosity after the Parisian shooting and the hostage siege at a Lindt café in Sydney, both of which were carried out by Muslim extremists, Mr Khalid said he hasn’t picked up on any negative feeling towards his faith locally. 

“Since the recent events we have received kind messages of support from our local non-Muslim friends, some Christian, some Jewish and some of no faith, and I would like to thank everyone who has reached out to us in this way.

“We frequently host visits from local schools, cub scout groups, teachers, and faith leaders amongst others and we all gain enormously from these exchanges.

“I am glad to say that these visits are happening more regularly now than ever before.” 

He added: “Only through getting to know one another on a personal level can people build bridges of true understanding and eliminate any confusion and mistrust that may appear.”

The mosque will hold an open day from 11am on Sunday, March 1, and everyone, young and old, is welcome to attend. 

Mr Khalid said: “More details will be publicised as we iron out our plans for the day.

“Visitors can have a tour of the mosque, see how we pray, have an informal chat over a cup of tea, and try a variety of culinary delights.”