The events of the last few weeks and months have left us all questioning the world in which we are bringing up our Cubs. We are heartbroken and scared. But today I have witnessed first hand something that gives me hope that things will be okay.
Following the horrific terror attacks in Manchester and London a local Mosque was vandalised. The words “Muslim Cowards” were crudely spray painted across the side of it. I was completely appalled and devastated for the Muslim community. Thankfully there were many people who shared this view and members of the public took at it with paint and brushes. It was amazing to see.
Very shortly after the vandalism the Mosque responded. Rather than respond with anger, hatred or retaliation. They responded with love and kindness. Urging the local community to join them for an Open Day to learn about Islam and their beliefs.
I thought this was a brilliant opportunity for me to learn and immerse Elijah into the wonderfully diverse community in which we live. We follow no religion in our household. We haven’t had Elijah baptised and don’t intend to. However, I want to ensure that he is respectful and tolerant to others.
We are all members of an attachment parenting group on Facebook (Mama Mates – APUK Middlesbrough). It’s founder Lucy also agreed it was a brilliant opportunity for us to attend to asked as many members as possible to attend.
A Warm Welcome
When we arrived at the Mosque we were welcomed in. I parked the pram up and took off our shoes. We headed into a room and were offered tea, biscuits and other refreshments (Elijah was in his element with all the cake on offer!). I really appreciated this gesture considering that it is currently Ramadan and the members of the Mosque were fasting at the time. There was information around the room about Islam and the Qur’an and a space to leave a message on a whiteboard. There were also some hijabs to try on if you wanted. I declined because I didn’t want Elijahs cakey fingers causing too much mess if he pulled on it. Immediately a lovely woman came over and spoke to me. (I feel bad that I didn’t catch her name) But she was incredibly welcoming and asked about Elijah and we talked about our children (she had a 9 month old).
When everyone had a cuppa and a biscuit we were taken upstairs. The turn out was astounding! It was so full there were shoes lining all of the corridors and they had to turn the TV on downstairs to broadcast the workshop as they were running out of room!
The variety of people there was amazing. Old and young, different backgrounds and religions. I saw some members of the Church, police officers and armed forces.
They discussed the 5 pillars of Islam and explained why each one was important. They welcomed and embraced all questions from the public including topics like the true meaning of the word “Jihad” and women’s dress and fashion.
Maybe I will go alone next time
I didn’t get any pictures inside, mostly because I wasn’t sure if I was allowed. I never had the chance to ask because I spent a lot of my time chasing Elijah and trying (unsuccessfully) to prevent a toddler meltdown.
I really struggled with him today to be honest. I think he was a bit tired. He didn’t want to stand, or sit, or walk or crawl or be held. He just wanted to whinge and cry. Then make his way to the biscuits. I lost count of how many chocolate digestives he stole. At least 5! The last one he decided was too much, he chomped most of it then spat it out onto himself and me. He threw cake everywhere and drenched us both with a bottle of water. I was MORTIFIED. But the gents there were so lovely and patient. Reassuring me not to worry. Offering me a hand and a seat. “It’s only water! Don’t worry about it” they said with a smile.
We decided to leave early as Elijah’s fussing was just a bit too much for me. Even though everyone was being so lovely I was really conscious and stressed.
I missed quite a bit of the workshop because I was chasing Eli but I still learned a lot. I hope they do it again soon as I would like to go alone so that I can listen properly. When Elijah is old enough to understand I will definitely take him to something like this again. And I would urge others to too. It was brilliant to see so many parents taking their children.
I just want to thank everyone inloved. For not only bringing the community together during difficult times. But for giving me hope. Hope that my son will live in a kind and tolerant world. I’d like to see more things like this. As cliche as it sounds, our children ARE the future. We need to teach them compassion and kindness to everyone.
Hate fuels hate.