Mosque opens Its Doors to the Community
Aylesbury Mosque opened its doors to the community this weekend and invited RAF Halton to take part in the celebrations for it’s 25th Anniversary. Eid, which marks the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, was announced for September 12, which happily coincided with the Anniversary. The aim of the open day was to educate the visitors about the way Muslims live and dispel some myths about their life and religion, and was attended by over 1000 people of all faiths and colours.
Station personnel and a team of Servicemen Awaiting Trade Training, SATTs, assisted with erecting marquees, manning the RAF Halton stand and helping to make the day the success that it was. The Aylesbury Air Training Corps, the 710 Royal Bucks Hussars Operational Hygiene Squadron, RLC, manned by Captain Marisa Tompkins, and Warrant Officer 2 Richard Hunt were also present.
Other members of the community who participated in the celebrations were the Aylesbury police and fire stations, who brought their vehicles and demonstrated how they work, careers advice, Bucks Carers, Barnardos and a footcare specialist to name but a few.
Food and refreshments were offered to the visitors and later in the day prayers were said before a cake was cut by the Senior Imam and other honoured guests including Halton’s Station Commander, Wing Commander Niki Stacey, David Lidington, Member of Parliament for Aylesbury, Nicholas Soames Member of Parliament for Mid-Sussex, High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, Milly Soames, Superintendent Olly Wright of Thames Valley Police and Aylesbury town dignitaries.
For the children, a bouncy castle, face painting, home made cake and ice cream, and even a couple of stilt walkers made an appearance.
The lead Imam welcomed the guests, saying: “Welcome on this special day. I know it is a Saturday which eats into your precious time so thank you for coming. The word ‘Mosque’ means ‘place of prayer’ and our sacred day is Friday when the Imam addresses his gathered community. This is a wonderful occasion that we can build on and use to improve our relations with the wider community.” He gave the guests a tour of the Mosque before addressing them to clarify Muslims’ beliefs about what is going on in the world, how Muslims live and Sharia law, dispelling some of the myths about Islam.
Wing Commander Niki Stacey commented: “Local community engagement is really important and we have been delighted to be able to attend the Aylesbury Mosque 25th Anniversary event. Opportunities such as this help a diverse range of people to come together and learn more about each other, lower barriers and increase tolerance and understanding”.
David Lidington added his comments, saying: “First I think it is important to celebrate 25 years and it’s tremendous that the Mosque has thrown open its doors to the wider community. The Muslim community is part of our mainstream life and plays an active role in teaching and actively working to be part of the larger family. Continued work needs doing by all of us to understand each other’s beliefs.”
Imam Asim Hafiz, an Islamic adviser to the Ministry of Defence who also attended to lend his support, added: “We all need to work together to engender community cohesion between the muslim and local communities.”
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