Shah Jahan Mosque
There is a diverse population in Woking but often in somewhat segregated areas - the project promotes inclusivity and community integration.Shah Jahan Mosque
Brief description (of the partner):
The Shah Jahan Mosque, built in 1889, was the first mosque to be built in the UK and Northern Europe. Today the mosque has the honour of being listed as a historical Grade 2 building and is also a registered charity. In addition to the five daily prayers, the Shah Jahan Mosque is a focal point that continues to play a pivotal part in the life of the local Muslim community. Another important function of the mosque is to support and promote religious education and it provides regular classes for children and adults for this purpose
What happened in the partnership?
NCS young people visiting the Mosque are given a comprehensive introduction to Islam and the Mosque’s centrality in the community. The Imams encourage the young people to ask any questions they may have, however controversial, a valuable chance to learn about Islam that really helps challenge misconceptions around Islam. For those who are comfortable, the Imams give them the rare privilege of having chance to watch prayers, thus giving them a practical experience that young people report as something that they will remember for a long time.
For the social action project, the young people designed and undertook a campaign in the style of ‘Humans of New York’, promoting the diversity of the area, by creating their own ‘Humans of Woking’. To create this, the team talked to individuals from the Muslim community and the wider community in general, giving individuals the chance to share their ‘stories’ and be recognised as part of the community, helping educate people about the everyday lived experiences of their neighbours.
The result of the social media campaign and professional looking booklet of photos of individuals with their stories underneath was amazing. The mosque was really pleased with the team’s dedication and hard work that really shows in the high quality of the booklet – which is handed out to visitors of the mosque and used as awareness raising material in the area.
Visiting the Mosque and gathering stories from the community really helps challenge some of the misconceptions about Islam and encourages young people to learn more about the varied demographics of their community and focus their social action projects on the core NCS values of inclusion and diversity.
Teams working with the Mosque report how friendly and welcoming the mosque staff and community are as many of the young people had felt nervous going into a community they knew very little about. Young people shared with others how the visit helped them question their opinions and expand their knowledge of their own community.