Women from Titchfield and Wickham visit local mosque
More than 40 women from St Peter’s Church, Titchfield, and St Nicholas Church, Wickham, joined together to visit their local mosque.
They were hosted by their Muslim friends at the Al Mahdi Centre on Fontley Road, which was purpose-built only a few years ago.
The imam, Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo, showed them around the centre, and Shabbir Walji and Taki Jaffer explained the concept of their building. Money had been raised and the land purchased, and then the building was designed to blend in and compliment the surrounding area, partly modelled on Titchfield Abbey.
The Christian and Muslim women then had refreshments and conversation together. They were able to ask questions about each other's faiths and learn some of the traditions and challenges that Muslim women have living in the UK today.
There were plenty of questions about Ramadan: learning that fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and a way of learning self-control and will power and exercising a spirit of charity.
Fatim Jaffer, the host from Al Mahdi Women, said: “A wide range of topics were covered in the open conversations including our lifestyles, faith, traditions and understanding of stories from the Bible and Qur’an. This event left us all feeling connected and contributed to eradicating misconceptions that exist through our lack of knowledge about one another."
One lady was delighted to learn the family line to both Mohamed and Jesus. Another commented that she had been "fearful of those who wore hijab, but having been to this event, she has left all her fears behind." The women felt it had been a worthwhile trip, and that it was important for them to learn the truth for themselves, rather than rely on the media.
The morning was rounded off by Khudayja Datoo - a youth in the community, as she read us a poem that she had written about ‘Iconic Women in Islam’.
The Rev Jane Isaac, vicar of Shedfield and Wickham, said, “The Wickham ladies are all ‘star bakers’ and so they really appreciated the wonderful food we were offered during our visit. Sharing food and conversation is a wonderful way to make new friends, and in coming together as two faith communities to talk about the ordinary everyday things like recipes and family life, we opened up conversation about some of the deep realities in which we all share.”
A reciprocal visit is being planned to Wickham and Titchfield next year.
And the Rev Janet Trevithick, curate at St Peter's, Titchfield, said: "Reverend Jane and I were overwhelmed and really encouraged by the interest shown by our ladies. We are so grateful to our Muslim hosts for such a memorable and enlightening, warm and friendly visit to the Al Mahdi Centre."