Rose Towler, a Scout from Portchester, writes about her visit to the local mosque and the importance of learning about other religions
It certainly wasn’t a building that looked like a grand house in the country.
Me and 21 other young people from 3rd Portchester Sea Scouts went to the Al Mahdi Centre, near Fareham, to learn more about Islam as part of our world faith badge.
After we took off our shoes the Imam and minister of religion at the centre, Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo, was proud to show us the ways in which the building was special – from the energy saving they had built in to the orientation to Mecca and the special washing facilities.
It was sunset and we watched as the Imam said his prayers.
Muslims should get up at dawn and pray many times a day. He taught us the Muslim greeting and I read from the Koran. Everyone had lots of questions.
I found out that lots of things I thought were important to Muslims aren’t in the Koran at all, but were more to do with different countries’ cultures and traditions.
There was a young girl who told us that she didn’t have to wear a hijab but she chose to and that it didn’t stop her from swimming or doing anything else she wanted to do.
A Scout from my group asked about Jihad and we were all a bit frightened when the Imam shouted ‘yes’.
Then he explained that the word meant to strive, to do one’s best and to lead a good life. He said: ‘We should all strive to achieve.’
He said that he had been a Scout in Africa when he was young.
He said it was like being a Scout, to do our best.
The important thing is that Islam is a religion of peace and the current fighting is about politics not religion.
He told us there is nothing Islamic about bombing and killing.
We all had so many questions that we stayed really late and the Imam tried to answer them all.
It turned out to be an amazing evening.
As a Scout I think it’s important to learn about other cultures.
There are Scouts all over the world and it’s important to know their culture as well.
I think doing activities like this mean we can understand other people better and that will help the community.
Scouting in Hampshire is always looking for adults to help young people learn more about their communities.
n For more information go to hampshirescouts.org.uk.