This post is inspired by an incident last night (7/4/2015).
My gf and I were in central London and we passed by a masjid (mosque), the London Central Mosque Trust Ltd. and the Islamic Cultural Centre to be exact. Coming from a Christian background, she had never been in a masjid before and it sparked her curiosity. If she wanted to see inside this was a perfect chance. So we went in and watched the prayer – from the time of day it would’ve been ‘ishā.
As we neared the prayer room, standing in the part where they keep their shoes, one of the guys – an elderly guy of what I presume is Nafrican background – started telling us to separate! In a “holy place” a couple holding hands is indecent. My gf pointed out there was a ‘white’ couple almost right beside us. I think the ‘white’ guy was muslim explaining the prayers to the woman. Though they weren’t touching (as far as I could see) they were well within touching distance of each other, and the Nafrican guy didn’t even look at them. So I asked why he was telling us to separate and not them, and he carried on with his “holy place” rant. Then he tried to make me step back because I had my shoes on, even though we weren’t standing in the prayer room itself.
A security guard came and intervened, telling the guy to calm down – but agreed that our behaviour was indecent. He explained that what we were doing was private and children’s minds are pure.
He (the security guard) then asked if I’d want my children to see people snogging in the streets, totally ignoring the fact we were just holding hands. As I got exasperated I said “Listen, I used to be a muslim so I know all these conditions.” That REALLY got the ball rolling; “You used to be a muslim?” That evolved into a new discussion:
- First he didn’t believe me, which is no surprise. It’s no exaggeration that most Muslims don’t know that ex-muslims exist!
- He assumed I’d been ignorant of the religion and proceeded to tell me what Islam is,
- I showed him that not only was I not ignorant but more knowledgeable than him (I told him a Qur’anic verse about abrogation that he didn’t know*) and challenged him to show me a single verse that gave believers permission to stand up to verbal abuse and bullying – which he couldn’t. Back when I was reading the whole Qur’an I never found it; the closest was just giving the oppressed the right to armed resistance against physical violence,
- He got scared and admitted he’s not a shaykh or scholar (do you have to be to know your own faith?), then referred me to the masjid’s shaykh.
And the shaykh had just gone home.
The best the security guard could do was tell me to come back during one of their talks on Saturdays & Sundays, and bring my gf if she wanted to come too. That way I could have my questions answered – which I never asked for since most of my questions about Islam have been answered, just by using my own brain and searching for myself. We refused the offer as we were just passing through the area for the day.
Oh well, at least she got to see the inside of a masjid – a rare chance since most masajid in London don’t let women in at all.