Hundreds of people gathered at the East London Mosque in Whitechapel on Sunday for the third annual ‘Visit My Mosque Day’. The regular event, seen as an opportunity to explain Islam to non-Muslims, came this year only a week after the controversial executive order from US President Donald Trump restricting entry to America for people from seven Muslim-majority countries: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.
Dilowar Hussain Khan, Executive Director of the East London Mosque, believes that events like Visit My Mosque Day will help fight against Islamophobia.
He said: “When people come here they find that there is so much in common with them. Religions have more similarities than differences and that brings people together.”
He also blamed certain politicians for misrepresenting Islam.
He said: “There are people who take advantage of the politics and try to corner and demonize Muslims. But I also think that given the right information people would change their mind about Islam and Muslims.”
150 mosques across the country were opened up to non-Muslims to have a closer look at the religion and understand its message. For many visitors this was the first time they had ever been inside a mosque. Des Brock, an Essex resident, was one of many who made the journey to visit the Mosque.
He said: “It was very interesting to come to the Mosque and especially visit the prayer hall.”
‘Visit My Mosque’ is a Muslim Council of Britain initiative. Last year 80 Mosques across the country were opened to the public, and this year the number has almost doubled, to more than 150.
Mostafa Hussain, a member of Faith Inspire, an organization that helped support the event, regrets how Islam is wrongly perceived by many. He added: “What we are trying to do is to tell people that Muslims are very much a part of this country and the community is integrated into British society. We are just like regular neighbours.’
The event started around 11 am, continuing into the evening. Parents brought their children to introduce them to different faiths.
Community leaders hope more people will be encouraged to visit the mosque in future and have a positive influence on society.