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Year 8 at Range High Visit the Quwwatuislam Mosque

During June and July, Range’s Year 8 students were lucky enough to be invited to visit the Quwwatuislam Mosque in Preston. On arrival, they were welcomed by Waquas, a community and education worker for the mosque and they all spent a fascinating day learning about life and worship as a Muslim living in Britain. During a welcome and introduction, students worked in groups to write down what they already knew about Islam from their lessons at school and also what they would like to find out during the day. They were encouraged to think of as many questions as they could.

Next, each of the groups completed four different workshops on a rotation: a tour of the mosque, an interactive activity about life as a British Muslim, a question and answer with girls from the Preston Muslim Girls’ School and a current affairs session.

Touring the mosque, the students were able to see for real the different features of the mosque they had learnt about in class: the mihrab (alcove in the wall) to show the direction of Mecca, the minbar (steps up to a platform from where the imam speaks to the worshippers), the wudhu (washing area) and the charity collection boxes for zakat (which supports Muslims in need) and sadaqah (which supports anyone in need, regardless of faith or background).

The current affairs session allowed our students to ask all sorts of questions about contemporary topics. The interactive ‘Muslim Life’ session was very popular as it involved our students having the opportunity to try out traditional Muslim dress and even included a ‘Who can arrange the funkiest hijab?’ competition. More seriously, the session also allowed the students to reflect on the dangers of labelling others because of the way they choose to dress. Another highlight was the question and answer session with students from the Girls’ High School; in Loulou’s words, this helped our students ‘understand that Muslims are actually very similar to us’. The girls were an absolute credit to their school and we plan to keep in touch and build links between the two schools.

After lunch, students had the opportunity to make posters about what they had learnt during the morning, before everyone gathered together to meet one of the mosque’s three imams and then to observe afternoon prayers. It was interesting to see Muslims of many different ages and abilities, some in traditional Muslim dress and others in jeans and shirts – Waqaus explained that any type of dress is fine for prayer, as long as it is both modest, as a sign of respect, and comfortable enough to allow Muslims to perform each rakah (movement during prayer).

Seeing so many Muslims praying together allowed us to witness the fellowship (ummah) which grows when Muslims unite in worship.

After observing prayer, any students who chose to students had the chance to perform the rakahs themselves. Finally, after a few thank yous, we were back on the bus home.

After the visit, students were asked if they would recommend visiting a mosque to other students, and the answer was a resounding ‘YES’! They were also asked for some highlights. For Eve, the best part was ‘meeting the Muslim school girls because they were really nice’. For Ben and Daisy, the best part was ‘wearing the clothes because it was fun’. Sean found the atmosphere when Muslims pray to be ‘very peaceful’. Another question posed to students was about what they learnt during the day. Jacob felt that he learnt a great deal just by ‘being inside the mosque’. Harrison enjoyed ‘hearing lots of different Muslims’ points of view’. Chloe learnt that ‘it is a peaceful religion and that every Muslim is different’. As well as getting an answer to that crucial question, ‘How do Muslims pray on planes?’, Matthew learnt that ‘Muslims are nice, ordinary people’.

We are extremely grateful to Waqaus and everyone at the Quwwatuislam Mosque and from the Preston Muslim Girls’ High School for making this visit a tremendous success. We experienced a true Muslim welcome and look forward to visiting our new friends again soon and to welcoming some of them to Range High School. Thank as well, from all the students, to Mrs Bridge and Mrs Drury for organising this memorable trip.

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