As the only mosque for miles around, serving employees and residents based in three nearby towns and several villages, you might think at least one of our two imams would ponder an inclusive offering at Friday prayer, choosing to bridge divides and unite the congregation with an inspiring speech that reaches into hearts, regardless of school of thought, ethnicity or social background.
But no, that is apparently too big an ask. Instead, week after week we must listen to an ill-thought-through defence of some practice or belief, which inspires no one, and simply irritates the outsider. For what reason? What is wrong with recounting a universal lesson from our Book? What is wrong with enjoining what is good, gently encouraging us to bring about positive change in our lives?
Encourage fathers to spend time with their children, and husbands with their wives. Say something about healthy and wholesome eating. Speak of the virtues of charity and taking care of the poor. Mention the growing dependency on food banks in our locality and speak of the reward for feeding the hungry. Talk to us about sincerity and purifying our intentions. Address the cost of living crisis, with practical advice on making ends meet in times of hardship.
Most of all, speak to us about divine mercy, about seeking help from the One. About not losing hope. About turning back to God. Remind us of the importance of gratitude. Tell us about those God loves. Speak of the Oneness of God. Teach us to be empathetic. Help us to stay rooted. Teach us how to pray with our heart and soul. Call us to God’s light. Remind us what our purpose is and why we have been put here, in this time and place.
All of this is what your congregation yearns for. It’s what our souls are crying out for. They want to feel alive for those few short minutes, once a week, in that house of prayer. In short, they want to feel inspired, sipping food for their soul, which will keep them going for seven days until next week’s fix, their faith enlivened. If not now, when will you inspire us?