BY GRAHAME ANDERSON
Strengthening Muslim Communities Is Key
The UK has welcomed it’s first beacon standard five star super mosque set to enhance the work of Muslims in the West London Community. It seems fitting the award winning extensive Al-Manaar project is based in Chelsea and Kensington, as the support shown to victims of the Grenfell tragedy has been extensive and ground-breaking. In demonstrating the mosques competence in all aspects of governance and practice, Britain’s best run mosque winner has set a first class example to other regions
The Beacon Mosque initiative has been created to show in the 21st century, how valuable a role mosques and Islamic centres play in our towns and cities globally.
Rating the Mosque on a three, four and five star basis will help achieve globally recognised standards. The system has also been designed to help worshippers and management appreciate what can and should be achieved to deliver an exemplary mosque experience.
Faith Associates are the parent company behind the Beacon Mosque Initiative. Their Strategic Project Manager Kaashif Awan told Asian Sunday: “We look at safe guarding, finance, policy and procedure and day to day running of the mosque to ensure they are at the standard they should be.
Standard Of Excellence
“To give to you an example a Michelin restaurant, it’s something to aim to achieve. A standard of excellence a kite mark quality. So there’s a whole audit system in place. It’s not something where we go in, look around and say this is a five star mosque, we look at the policy the procedures, the finance, the money that goes into the mosque, what they do with it, how they benefit the community, the women, so it’s an in-depth accreditation that we do.
“Faith Associates has already been working with the mosques for the past 10 years, helping with free training, such as health and safety, safe guarding. Our main aim is to help mosques to get to a standard to helping the community and doing the best that they can and we have a mix of mosques we’re engaging with across the country, small, large. Our day to day work is helping mosques and providing advice and that’s something we want to do,to provide a standard as well.
The Feel Good Factor
“So people have seen that and so we’ve had a lot of calls from others mosque to ask to be accredited. So it’s a feel good factor for these mosques as well. So when they say look we’re a 5 star rated mosque, it adds that kind of quality and feel good factor for the institution.”
Currently, four mosques have signed up to the project still in it’s early days and ready to receive help from Faith Associates on the ground team. Safe-guard training however, could also be done by councils or other accredited bodies.
Building Positive Relationships
The company already has a great relationship with councils in Lancashire, and has received positive contact from several other areas, though there’s no specific target in terms of numbers.
Thumbs Up from Bradford
They’ve certainly been given the thumbs up in West Yorkshire as a spokesperson for the Bradford Council Of Mosques explained: “Bradford Mosques have already won awards for their grand structures, architecture, minarets and inclusive, so we welcome anything that enhances the work done in the Muslim community here in the city.
“We think anything leading to higher quality facilities and services in order to benefit wider communities has to be warmly welcomed. It can show the valuable work and contribution made by those who call Britain their home.”
Fees For Accreditation
No set price is in place for gaining accreditation but fees do vary as Kaashif explained: “Because we look at the mosque individually and look at for example, what is the capacity of this mosque and what are their needs and then we come to an agreement with them. Training such as the safe guarding is set prices, but the accreditation because we’ve obviously done it with three mosques, so it does kind of vary. You may have mosques who are at different levels financially, so we also take all that into consideration.”
Support From Prominent Figures
The Al-Manaar mosque has been visited by both Prime Minister Theresa May and Leader Of The Opposition Jeremy Corbyn amongst other luminaries. From worship to marriage, training programmes to celebrations, community business to education, there’s something here for all backgrounds and ages.
Their state-of-the-art kitchen and canteen has been frequently used by the survivors of Grenfell and the wider community from North Kensington.
Taking A lead
One of the mosque’s main aims is to reach out and act as a resource for the Muslim communities, voluntary and statutory agencies and the wider community as a whole. They want to encourage and help mosques to learn from each other. Other accredited Mosques include both The Al Madina Mosque in Barking and The Mevlana Rumi Mosque in Edmonton, North London.