THE violent attacks in Tunisia is not what Islam stands for.
That is the message from the Muslim community in Portsmouth, who invited guests into the Jami Mosque, in Victoria Road North, in Southsea, to share the service of Iftar Mahfil.
Inviting guests into our mosque and sharing our views - that is was Islam is all about.Abu-Suyeb Tanzam
The invitation was given to the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Frank Jonas and headteachers from city schools following the tragic deaths of 38 people in Tunisia on June 26.
Of those killed, 30 are expected to be confirmed as British and were staying at the Hotel Rui Imperial Marhaba and neighbouring Hotel Rui Bellevue Park.
The Imam of the mosque organised the visit during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan.
Abu-Suyeb Tanzam, a member of the mosque, said: ‘We felt it was important following the attacks recently to show that we want to be united in our community.
‘We have invited people who do not believe in Islam into the mosque to share with our ceremony.
‘Ramadan is about unity and the people here are welcoming and smiling despite fasting all day.
‘There are a small number of people who hijack Islam and our religion.
‘The people killing in the name of Islam is not what the majority of us believe.
‘Inviting guests into our mosque and sharing our views – that is what Islam is all about.’
During the ceremony, Mufti Ali, the Imam from the Muslim Academy in Commercial Road, and Sheikh Datto, the Imam from the Al Mahdi Centre in Fareham, gave speeches.
Cllr Jonas also spoke. He said: ‘I’m grateful to be invited here to represent the people of Portsmouth and for the opportunity to see the ceremony of Iftar Mahfil.
‘I’ve been to events held by the Muslim community in the city so thank you for inviting me to your ceremony too.’
After the speeches, members of the mosque, sat down to eat for the first time of the day, breaking their daily fast.
The guests were joined by the Imams at a table to eat and then watched as members started praying.
President of the mosque, Mujahid Miah, said: ‘Iftar Mahfil is about more than just fasting and the sharing of food.
‘It’s about bringing people of all faiths and none together to trample on the misunderstandings that can cause tension and mistrust.
‘A real Muslim cannot and should not kill or harm other innocent people.’