Religion

AROUND 1,000 people attended a prayer vigil at the Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking in honour of the 50 people shot dead at two mosques in New Zealand.

They included dignitaries led by Phillip Hammond, the Chancellor and MP for Runnymede and Weybridge, Michael More-Molyneux, the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, David Munro, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey, and Jonathan Lord, the Woking MP.

Visitors arrive for the peace vigil, next to prayer mats laid out in memory of those killed in Christchurch

Christians, Jews and Hindus and senior figures from those faiths were in attendance. They included Rabbi Kath Vardi of the North West Surrey Synagogue, Father Peter Andrews from St Dunstan’s Church, Syed Naqvi, chairman of the Surrey Muslim Association, the Rev Nick Hutchinson, of St Paul’s Church, Woking, and Simon Trick, chairman of Woking People of Faith.

Mohammed Habib, the mosque manager, said it was reassuring to see so many people come together.

“It shows that love, peace and humanity are more powerful than hatred and bigotry,” Mohammed said.

Fifty prayer mats were laid out in front of the mosque in memory of those killed in Christchurch.

Mohammed said the fact that people had come together over the massacre in Woking and around the world showed whatever the killer had intended to happen had failed.

He said the vigil on Saturday was a fantastic event.

For the full story get the 28 March edition of the News & Mail

WOKING is an example to the rest of the country of interfaith understanding and the integration of Islam in the community, the Minister for Faith has said.

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth was speaking during a tour of the Shah Jahan Mosque three days after 50 people were shot dead at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Minister for Faith Lord Bourne, left, speaking with Head Imam Hafiz Hashmi, middle, and his wife Kauser Akhtar

The visit had been planned months before the tragedy and is part of a tour by the minister to places of worship around the country to promote interfaith understanding.

“As long as I live, I won’t understand what prompts somebody to do what happened in Christchurch. It has been condemned by people around the globe, and rightly so,” he said. “We must ask what we can do to make sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen.”

He was shown around the first purpose-built mosque in Britain by Hafiz Hashmi, the Head Iman, and his wife Kauser Akhtar, who is chairwoman of the South East England Faiths Forum and faith links adviser for Surrey Faith Links, run by the Diocese of Guildford.

Lord Bourne said the strong interfaith links in Woking “is where we want everybody to be”, paying tribute to the leadership of the Imam and Kauser, describing it as “very powerful in the world in which we are living”.

They told the minister about the mosque’s involvement in the community, from the annual Armistice Day parade in Woking Town Centre and helping the homeless, as well as working with people of all faiths and hosting regular visits from schools. They also explained that, along with formal open days at the mosque, it is open for anyone to visit and the Imam is available to answer questions about Islam.

“These are things that are very close to the government’s heart,” said Lord Bourne. “We want to demystify religion. A lot of Christians are wary of mosques, but not so much as they used to be. People are more familiar with their local mosques because of examples of things such as that happening in Woking.”

“We should be shouting about what is happening in Woking,” said Lord Bourne. “It should be happening elsewhere.”

A prayer and peace vigil for the victims and families of the New Zealand shootings is being held at the Shah Jahan Mosque on Saturday 23 March, starting at 2pm. All members of the community are invited to attend, to show solidarity and unity against such terror attacks.

For the full story get the 21 March edition of the News & Mail

THE Shah Jahan Mosque is holding its annual open day on Sunday 3 March.

The event, from noon to 3pm will include exhibitions on the history of the first purpose-build mosque in Britain, displays explaining Islam and a question and answer session at 1.45pm.

Shan Jahan Mosque

Visitors will be able to see worshippers in prayer at 1.30pm and take part in guided tours of the mosque.

Refreshments will be served and there will be a gift stall and children’s play area.

The initiative is part of the nation-wide Visit My Mosque event.

For more information, call 07928 539061 or email office@shahjahanmosque.org.uk.