Thought for today

We are rarely presented with positive and joyful images of Islam, yet this has been overwhelmingly my experience. One such experience was on a Friday evening at the beginning of a week of celebrations for the anniversary of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. My friend Assan took me to a large mosque in Bradford. The atmosphere was electric: many of the men were dressed in colourful traditional clothing, the smell of perfumes filled the air and I was greeted by many a passing stranger noticing my clerical collar and taking me warmly by my hand or greeting me with an open welcoming smile. When we finally managed to get into the main part of the mosque, after some simple food was served to us in the basement, I saw colourful banners adorning every side; ecstatic renditions of poetry to the Prophet were being recited and enthusiastically received by a congregation who exhibited a real sense of excitement, love and joy …

Ray Gaston, from A Heart Broken Open

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