Class Three Mosque Visit

10th July 2017
As part of their theme learning Class Three visited Masjid-E-Noor mosque in Gloucester. Imam Hassan and Hannah made us very welcome as they showed us round the mosque and told us what it was like to be a Muslim in Gloucester. An Imam is the title given to the religious leader, like Christians call their leader Reverend or Vicar.
 First we took our shoes off and went up to the small prayer room upstairs where Imam Hassan introduced himself and told us a little about Islam and Gloucester Mosque.
We learned that the mosque began when Indian Muslims were invited to this country to work in the 50's and 60's. They needed a place to pray so began by praying in the front room of one of their houses. As their numbers grew they saved and bought the neighbouring house so they could knock the wall through and make a bigger room. Later they bought a third and fourth house and so the mosque grew.
The small prayer room is used on Friday, their special day of worship, as they have 750 Muslims attending that day. It is also used every week day evening for Muslim children who attend school there between 5-7pm. They learn about their religion and the Quran, their holy text.
In the main prayer room Imam Hassan explained about the number of times Muslims pray each day. Many Muslims pray five times a day. They use a prayer mat to prostrate themselves when they pray at home or work and keep a travel one in their car so they can pray wherever they are. They can also go to the mosque to pray. The digital display shows when each prayer time starts and also when prayer will happen in the mosque. Each prayer time lasts till the next prayer time but the prayer only takes five to ten minutes so there is lots of flexibility in when they pray.
Imam Hassan played the call to prayer on his phone for us so we could hear it. He told us that this would be sung by someone in the mosque at prayer time. The mosque has a sound system to broadcast it through the mosque so those in other prayer rooms can hear the call and everything the Imam says. The Imam can also broadcast to the houses of Muslims who have installed a receiver in their home. They can hear everything that goes on during prayer time and they are also told of any news or events this way.
Imam Hassan explained how Muslims always pray facing towards Mecca and that they can have an app on their phone to help them find the right direction no matter where they are. They can also get an app to show the nearest mosques and the prayer times! Because they all face Mecca he has his back to everyone during prayer but he does turn round or sometimes sit down when talking to them. He says he talks in English for about twenty minutes about things he feels are important for them to know or remember and about the Quran. He then talks in Arabic for about ten minutes.
Imam Hassan showed us the Abolution Room. This is an enormous bathroom where Muslims do their abolutions before prayer. This is another way of saying that they wash themselves.
There are taps along each side with long channels for the water to flow in and stools beside them. Muslims sit there to wash. First they wash their hands, then their noses. They gargle to wash their mouths and put water on their heads. Then they wash their right arm three times and then their left. Lastly they wash their right foot three times followed by their left. The floor has underfloor heating and big heated towel rails hold towels for them to dry themselves before they go to the prayer room. Imam Hassan said that Muslims soon learn to do this in a minute.
After Imam Hassan had talked to us all Hannah showed us some cultural clothes that Muslims might wear. They believe that it is important to show modesty and cover parts of their body so the men where a thobe, a long robe that looks like a very long shirt and a skull cap called a Kufi. Women where a scarf covering their hair called a hijab or a khimar, a type of scarf that covers the hair and goes right down to their waist.  
We had a chance to try on some of the clothing.
It was really interesting to see inside the mosque, learn about how Muslems worship and compare it with Westbury church and the way that Christians worship.