Visit My Mosque is a programme in which mosques and Islamic centres open their doors to the wider non-Muslim community in order to fill the gap of unfamiliarity that some non-Muslims have about Islam and which could be exploited to promote Islamophobia.
As a first attempt the activity, at the Islamic Centre, was a success. The programme took place in the main hall. The highlight was an art exhibition of the works of Sister Siddiqua Juma which said much about female participation and creativity and went down well with the visitors both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Organisations with stalls at the event included: ‘Who is Hussain?’, ‘Arise’ (an organisation that caters for the needs of converts), ‘The Imam Hussain Blood Donation Campaign’ and a group encouraging bone marrow donation.
The activities were largely informal giving the attendees maximum opportunity to mingle and ask questions from Muslims or Shi‘a clerics who were present.
Some non-Muslim guests said that they were curious about the Islamic Centre and that they had always wanted to visit and this programme made it easier for them to do so.
Overall the programme was a success, the only disappointing element being that all the local authorities invited such as the local mayor, fire services and others did not show up. It might have been possible that they were overstretched since more ‘Visit My Mosque’ events were taking place in other mosques on the same day. Nevertheless, the day showed us that more has to be done to increase our outreach and foster closer relationships with our non-Muslim neighbours. In this respect Visit My Mosque has been both; a catalyst for such activities and a method for finding social harmony.