BRADFORD – Opening its doors for the first time to all faiths, Keighley's biggest mosque has welcomed scores of Muslim and non-Muslim visitors as part of Bradford’s participation in UK’s interfaith week-long events.
“I was extremely pleased and overwhelmed with the turnout," Mohammed Saleem, the organizer of the event, told Keighley news on Saturday, November 30.
“Islam is misunderstood in the West, often due to the wrongdoings of an individual or group who are Muslims by name but not by nature."
Held on last Wednesday, the open day was organized by the Keighley Muslim Association (KMA), and co-organized by Bradford Council’s Children’s Services through the Diversity and Cohesion Service.
The interfaith event at Emily Street’s Markazi Jamia Mosque drew scores of Bradford residents who were accompanied by their kids.
Attendants were also offered tours inside the mosque, meals, Qur’anic and Islamic poetry recitation as well as a Q&A session about Islam.
“I’d like to thank all those who helped with the event and supported it by attending," said Saleem, the Keighley Muslim Association's community relations and education officer.
"A sinful act by any Muslim individual doesn’t mean Islam is wrong, it is these individuals who have wronged themselves. Islam is peaceful, like other religions."
On the sideline of the mosque’s open day, a special event was held to honor young winners of Qur'an recitation competition among Keighley youngsters.
The winners were able to perform their recitation skills at the mosque's open day.
Performing at the competition, Mohammed Hassan Ramzan, a 16-year-old University Academy Keighley pupil, came first in the speech category.
The first place at Qur’an recitation went to Mohammad Hammad Ramzan, 11, who attends Bingley Grammar.
Hussnein Javed, 12, from Bingley Grammar, finished top in the devotional poetry section.
“Students deserve the appreciation of their parents and the wider community, as they worked hard to compete," Saleem said.
“It was tough for the judges to decide the winners, as all the students performed extremely well and showed off their ability and potential,
"I congratulate all the students and teachers for their efforts.”
Gathering people of different faiths under one roof, the event showed the importance of integration and accommodation of Muslims in the British community.
“We need to understand and accommodate our differences, while building on what we have in common,” Lord Mayor of Bradford Councilor Khad-im Hussain said.
“The purpose of religion is to shape human beings so they can serve humanity. Anything that doesn’t do that does not deserve to be called a religion.”
Damian Moore, the deputy head of the Holy Family Catholic School, shared a similar opinion.
“The Islamic community makes an invaluable contribution to the town’s economic and social status,
"And we were delighted to enhance the already strong friendship that exists between our school and the mosques.”
The mosque’s first open day won applaudits from Bradford Muslims.
“Events like these are very much needed in communities such as Keighley,” Utley resident Anayat Mohammed, 50, said.
"This can only be good for Christians, Muslims and people of other faiths.”
Bishop of Bradford the Right Reverend Nick Baines, who couldn't attend the event, has also praised the interfaith gathering.
“I applaud this initiative of welcome and hospitality that brings people of different faiths together," Baines said.
“Knowing people is always better than knowing about people.”
Held for the fifth consecutive year, the "Interfaith Week" opened last November 17 in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.
The event, the largest gathering for interfaith work in UK, has set three goals including; strengthening good interfaith relations at all levels.
Britain is home to a Muslim community of nearly 2.7 million.
In 2011, think tank Demo found that Muslims in the United Kingdom are more patriotic than the rest of population.
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