National Open Mosque Day
E-Guide Download: You can also download our free complete open mosque day guide with much more details here.
WHAT TO DO FOR HOLDING A SUCCESSFUL MOSQUE OPEN DAY?
Prepare the members of your Mosque and local community by explaining that an open day is a way of building a positive image of the Mosque in the local area. Inform them that the experiences of other communities have shown that a positive, supportive neighborhood image of the Mosque offers many benefits and leads to greater understanding and acceptance.
Prepare a list of potential invitees with the support of the management team and Mosque members, don’t restrict yourself! You should ensure that notice is given well in advance, as many people will have busy schedules. Please ensure that your key invitees receive written invitations that outline all the details of the open day. Follow up with a personal phone call. Always have a single named person that the media and visitors can contact.
Publicize the event by sending a well-written media release to the local print and broadcast media. You may also consider placing paid advertisements in a local newspaper. Send announcements to local houses of worship (Church’s, and Temples). Don’t forget to send information to other local Mosques and invitations to their leadership. Make sure the Mosque notice board and internal newsletters have the Mosque open day well publicized. Check your website has also details of the event and instructions for people whom wish to attend, especially contact details of relevant persons responsible for the day.
Inform your guests of Mosque etiquette before they arrive. Remember for some of your visitors this will be the first time they have been in a Mosque and they may well have some misconceptions about etiquette and customs. By providing them with details in advance visitors will feel more at ease and you will avoid any unnecessary embarrassment. Be ready to answer questions about prayer, separation of men and women and other common issues.
Keep in mind Sights, Smells and Sensations. Deep clean the Mosque. For visitors the first impression is the one that will last. Make sure bathrooms are immaculate.
It is important to have friendly greeters at the door to direct arriving guests and to make them feel welcome. Have knowledgeable, friendly people to conduct tours of the facility and to answer any questions guests may have. Do not leave guests alone to wander about the Mosque as they may feel unwelcome and confused unless otherwise stated. Give each guest a nametag and if possible a brief description of the Mosque and the religious rituals you carry out. Make sure sisters are available to make female guests feel welcome. It is important to brief all those involved with the open day in advance of your guests arriving. You may even consider information packs with small gifts to remember their visit by. An exhibition about Islam and the Mosque may need to be brought in or prepared for the day, give someone the specific responsibility to organize this and have their own team to walk people around the exhibition.
Provide snacks and drinks to make your guests feel welcome. Serving a variety of ethnic dishes is an excellent introduction to the diversity of our community. Having local dishes is also important to relay the harmony of cultures and faith in Islam. You should be prepared to talk to your guests and explain where the dishes you are serving come from. Provide a translator for when the Ahzan (Call to prayer) is heard or when the Salah (5 daily prayers) are conducted. This can be a very moving and deep experience and a responsible person needs to be on hand to explain the rituals and their significance in Islam. Maybe have materials at hand to distribute to visitors while prayers are being conducted to give greater clarity on the spiritual and emotional dimension of Islamic worship.
Select literature to be given to the guests. Do not push materials on guests. Let them select what they wish to read. You should also be prepared to explain what the materials you have available contain and to answer any questions your guests may have. Select a team, well in advance of the open day. There should be diversity in the team, male and female, young and old, a reflection of the community in which the Mosque is functioning. Select team members for a specific task and their focus should be that task alone, depending on the size of the team, for instance someone to greet at the door, he or she shouldn’t leave that task until the program has ended.
Post signs at appropriate locations in and out of the facility to help guests find their way around. For instance have signs from where guest may park their car to the designated entrance of the Mosque, especially if you have separate entrances for male and female. Many of them have never been to a Mosque before and may be nervous of offending their host. Some guests may not wish to follow the official guided tour and wish to explore the Mosque on their own and take time to ponder on what they are observing, give them space and do not hurry or force anyone. You may wish to have a suggestion/or question box for the guests who don’t wish to ask questions or make comments publicly, make guests aware of this facility on their arrival.
Pray & Thank
Renew your intensions all the time. Pray that your efforts will open the hearts of your guests. Pray that your best efforts are rewarded. Be very patient throughout the day, especially if there are perceived hostile or offensive questions. Be patient with worshipers whom were unaware of the open day and find the whole experience a little intrusive. Be patient with the team members who didn’t turn up on time or haven’t followed instructions! At the end of the event thank all the team, the Mosque Management/Trustees, the neighbors, sponsors and maybe you had partners supporting you in the delivery of the event. Thank the guests for coming to the event and send letters to specific invitees who made an extra effort to come to the event. Ultimately, thank Allah (SAW) for giving you the tawfeeq to conduct the event in the first place.
Find some time after the open day to reflect on how it went and what you would like to do differently next time. Maybe bring the team back and have a debriefing and feedback session. Pay particular attention to feedback given by guests, Mosque Management, neighbors, sponsors and partners.
Who should be invited?
- Muslims around the Mosque
- Non-Muslims who live around the Mosque
- Local faith communities, who have centers around the Mosques, such as, churches etc.
- Local police or police community officers
- Local school teachers and children
- Local district leaders
- Local Imams from the other Mosques in your area.
- Local Mosque committee members of other Mosques
- Local fire department officers
- Local council community representatives
- Local community voluntary agency leaders
- Local women’s groups leaders Muslim and non-Muslim
- Local political party representatives
- Local youth leaders
- Local business leaders
- Members of the deaf community (make sure they come with a person with sign language skills)
- Local counselling and advice center representatives
- Homeless center representatives
- Local charity organization representatives, e.g. Islamic relief, Helping Hand, ICNA Relief, etc.
- Local religious leaders from other faith communities
- Local representatives from cultural groups
- Local hospital representatives
- Local hospice or retirement center representatives
- Local doctors, dentists, maternity and outpatient clinics, NHS/Trust leadership