Last week, 5th Letchworth Scout Troop visited the Islamic Mosque in Stevenage as part of our World Challenge Award. There was much excitement in the minibus on the way there. It was the first trip to a mosque for most of us and we were keen to learn more about Islam.
Arriving at the mosque, we all had to remove our shoes and the girls had to cover their heads with scarves. Inside, the mosque felt quiet and respectful, despite the building works going on just metres away. I felt humbled.
First, we spectated a silent prayer in the Prayer Hall – Muslims pray 5 times a day: twice silently and three times out loud. The men and women pray in separate areas, all kneeling facing Mecca. Some were wearing everyday modern clothes, others wore traditional long robes and hats.
Then one of the Imams gave us a presentation on Islam. It covered a smorgasbord of topics such as the Five Pillars of Islam (Shahada: Faith, Salat: Prayer, Zakāt: Charity, Sawm: Fasting, Hajj: Pilgrimage to Mecca), Islamic Countries and Islamic History. We got to handle some prayer beads, which were beautifully decorated and Muslims use to help them concentrate on God. And we looked at the Qu’ran, learning that each one is the same and must be treated very carefully. We were also treated to an example of a prayer reading by the other Imam, blessing their god, Allah.
After the eye-opening and thought-provoking talk, we were invited to have a look at the various signs which were posted around the hall. I attempted to read some of the Arabic on the Language Tab, but the script is completely different to English.
Overall, I felt that the trip was extremely interesting. I have come out of it with a greater understanding of a religion that while different to my own, also has many parallels. Thank you to Stevenage Mosque for such a good evening.