Questers’ visit to Southampton Central Mosque 17 April 2024

A party of 25 was warmly greeted by the Mosque Secretary, Mr Zahir Ahmed at the entrance where we were invited to remove our shoes and place them on a rack. Fortunately, they had underfloor heating!  The ladies also had to cover their hair.

We were ushered into a largish room to be seated for a general talk and question and answer session by Mr Ahmed   followed by an explanation of the 5 basic pillars of Islam, namely belief in one God and his messenger Mohamed, prayer, pilgrimage (hajj), almsgiving and fasting, from the Chief Imam.  Basic beliefs in the Old Testament, but an earlier version to the one we may be familiar with and the Koran both written in unchanging Arabic were compared to the various editions of the Bible. Apparently the Mosque caters for more than 30 different nationality groups who live or work in the Southampton area.

The mosque is named after Abu Bakr, the closest colleague to the Prophet, and they follow Sunni teachings which is the original version of the faith.

We were provided with a very acceptable lunch at a very modest price and then shown the pre-prayer washing procedure necessary to prepare the faithful for prayer.  There are separate washing facilities for men and women and the sexes also have separate prayer sessions.  The ladies were dressed all in black with flowing gowns and complete covering of head/hair.

Immediately following the washing procedure we were able to witness prayers.     The prayers were attended by men of about 16 or older and there was a fair number of young men present.  Prayers in Arabic lasted about 15/20 minutes and seemed to follow a pre-set programme.   Shortly after, the visit concluded.

Throughout the visit our hosts could not have been more welcoming or hospitable and did everything possible to make our visit both interesting and enjoyable.

Norma Bryan

Posted in Questers Group.