Converts furious over Burton mosque’s last minute cancellation of non-Muslim iftar

Jame Masjid Ghausia, Burton Upon Trent

A mosque in Burton-upon-Trent has provoked fury after it cancelled an iftar event organised by Muslim converts for their non-Muslim family members at short notice without providing any reason.

Jame Masjid Ghausia on Princess Street cancelled an iftar event organised by a support group for new Muslim women called “Burton Converts” to invite their non-Muslim family members for iftar on Tuesday.

Event organiser and founder of Burton Converts, Aisha Iman, said to 5 Pillarz: “The iftar event’s main objective was to get rid of any misconceptions the non-Muslim community had about Muslims especially after the negative publicity Islam and Muslims received after the Woolwich murder. New converts to Islam would have the opportunity to invite members of their family who aren’t Muslims to get support from them.

“A sister affiliated with Princess Street mosque rang me around midday and said the mosque committee decided to cancel the event and she failed to provide any reasons. I asked her if anything was wrong, why no reason or explanation was given and whether any issues could be discussed, but I got nothing.”

Burton Converts group initially held their non-Muslim iftar event last year at the Ramadan Centre, a much smaller venue which can only seat around 30 people ran by Muslims not affiliated with Jame Masjid Ghausia.

The community centre which was booked for Tuesday’s event was built by East Staffordshire Borough Council and leased to the Princess Street mosque for 20 years.

Anger and disappointment

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The non-Muslim iftar event was heavily marketed with money paid towards booking the community centre, printing hundreds of posters and leaflets that were distributed at local dawah stalls, after jummah prayers and door to door by members of the local community.

Ms Iman said: “The last minute cancellation for unknown reasons is a really bad look for Muslims, particularly in the eyes of non-Muslims related to new converts who will now think that Muslims aren’t as welcoming as they make out.

“I had responses, texts, emails, phone calls and Facebook messages from over a hundred convert sisters from Derby and elsewhere who planned to come to tomorrow’s event with their families.”

Ms Iman also explained how Jame Masjid Ghausia refused Burton Converts last year from using the community centre for group events and circles, and instead told them that female converts were welcome to pray and attend the normal activities organised by the mosque.

She said: “As new converts to Islam, it is difficult to fit in with the community straight away. There are language and cultural barriers. New Muslims have to feel comfortable, but unfortunately the Princess Street mosque was not so welcoming.”

Muslim convert Amani Whiteside said on the Burton Converts Facebook page: “As many of the reverts who I attend circles and classes with are now aware that the Big Iftar has been cancelled tomorrow night due to unknown reasons by the Masjid Committee. We all had decided to take a non-Muslim friend or relative or neighbour along with us so they can see how important this month is to us, to clear up any misconceptions people may have about Islam, and about why we fast or why we cover the way we do.

“It was well-organised and so many reverts were looking forward to it, now we all feel so upset and disheartened that it’s been cancelled. We want our opinion to be heard as it’s now put a slight downer to end of Ramadan.”

5 Pillarz contacted the chairman of Jame Masjid Ghausia, Karamat Hussain, he said: “It was a unified decision of the mosque committee to cancel the event and I do not wish to disclose the reasons why.”

Mr Hussain then rudely hung the phone whilst Dilly Hussain was in the middle of asking a question.

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