One of the UK’s youngest imams gave us a tour of the largest mosque in London and spoke about how he is changing the public’s perception of Islam.
Sabah Ahmedi, 27, from Surrey, regularly gives tours of the Baitul Futuh Mosque in Morden, Merton which is the headquarter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community.
As well as allowing the public to visit the mosque, he is using his social media to change the often negative way Muslims are viewed.
Ahmedi said: “It’s really important to open the doors to our mosque for people to see inside it and it gives them an opportunity to ask questions because we’re in dire need of a safe space for people to ask questions about Islam.”
“I’m using my Instagram account to show people what life is like as a father, as an imam, as a husband, as a son, someone who enjoys going to the gym, who loves drinking coffee, likes wearing bright, colourful socks – showing what life is like as a Muslim so people can connect with that and realise we have more in common than not.”
The full Baitul Futuh Mosque complex accommodates for 13,000 people and has many rooms for different purposes.
One room is the mosque’s Voice of Islam radio station that is run by youth members of the community to give them a purpose and feel like they are doing something positive for the society they’re living in.
Every week they recite a pledge and as part of that pledge they say ‘we will sacrifice our life, time and wealth for the sake of our faith, country and nation’.
Ahmedi added: “Once it’s instilled in them that you have to be loyal to country you live in, there’s no room for terrorism, and killing innocent people. The beauty of having that regular meeting is instilling that love for humanity.”
“When people ask what are you doing to keep your youth away from being radicalised or targeted, this is one way we do that by instilling a love of humanity within them.”
Before the pandemic, Ahmedi and the youth members fed the homeless in Charing Cross, planted trees, and raised over £1milllion for charities in the UK.
He said that it is by the grace of God that they have been able to create these positive stories to be reported on.
Some fears the public have of Islam according to him are that it is a religion of violence, it oppresses women and does not allow them rights, and threatens the British way of life.
He believes one of the reasons the public have this fear is because of how Islam and Muslims are represented in the media.
Ahmedi said: “I think it’s really important to have positive stories of the countless amazing things Muslims have done over the world.”
“That’s one way to get rid of the fear of Islam.”
Some people also view Islam as a religion of hardship and difficulties, but Ahmedi said that there is no compulsion in religion.
He added: “People haven’t got time, that’s the truth.”
“That’s why my work is so important to help them understand.”