Bringing Islam alive
Bringing Islam alive for Woking’s community
This is the message being promoted across Woking and the UK this week as part of Islam Awareness Week.
Days after the end of the Islamic festival of Eid Muslims have been out and about attempting to break down barriers and create opportunities for communities to get to know each other.
As part of Islam Awareness Week there will be an open talk at the Shah Jehan Mosque in Oriental Road on Saturday.
With more than 5,000 Muslims living in Woking and in a town which houses the UK’s oldest mosque, it is a message important for the future of Woking.
Speaking to three followers of Islam, the Review found out why integration and neighbourliness was so essential in today’s society.
Sofia Syed a solicitor from West Byfleet, said: “People can have very negative views of Islam.”
“All too often Muslims are seen as weird, exotic, different or terrorists.
“We seldom have that girl next door image when the reality is we are just as colourful, varied and normal as people from other communities.
“I think it is important to normalise Muslims.
“People should not be afraid to ask and find out more about Islam and their Muslim neighbours.”
Mrs Syed moved from London with her husband three years ago and longs for a common ground to exist between different people in her community.
“We really like living in West Byfleet. It is a lovely village,” she said.
“It is very important to know your community and to allow them to get to know you.
“If you are a genuinely good-hearted individual and you try to help others and take an interest in other people’s lives, it is universally acknowledged, regardless of race, religion or appearances.
“It all helps towards building a more tolerant society.” Somia Shafiq of Mount Hermon has lived in Woking most of her life.
She successfully fits her religious lifestyle with a demanding job in financial services.
She said: “People must be given the chance to learn about Islam and to be made more aware of it.
“There are many Muslims in Woking and we would like to show the community their Muslim neighbours are quite normal.
“Part of the problem is there are a lot of misconceptions about Muslims but we are normal people going about our everyday lives.
“Islam is a part of my daily life and I pray five times a day but my life and values are not so different from those of non-Muslims.”
Lucy Bushill-Matthews, a mother of three, enjoys a lot of support from her non-Muslim neighbours.
She said: “We are all struggling to bring up children and to succeed at work.
“Being a good neighbour is such an essential part of being a Muslim.
“I feel grateful to have made some really good friends in my neighbours who are a source of constant support.”
To mark the end of Islam Awareness Week there will be a talk on neighbourliness in Islam at the Shah Jehan Mosque on Saturday November 27 at 5pm.