Over Easter break we thought we’d visit some different cities across the UK. So we drove up to Birmingham on Friday hoping to do Jumah there. Birmingham is about 2 hours north of London and the second biggest city in the UK. It seemed a lot more industrial and the houses looked to be all mass made housing blocks like those built in the US in the 70s. Can’t say it appealed very much but then again we only saw the area where the Mosque was. We attended Jumah at the Birmingham Central Mosque which is a huge mosque next to the highway. It was a welcome sight to see a dome and minaret rising above an industrial city.
I went around to the back which is per usual in the UK for sisters and went upstairs to the sisters section. It seemed to be a long balcony gallery section. There were windows in front of us but long strips of tape had been placed down them so sisters couldn’t see/be seen? Like outside in regular society its fine for you to actually see a Muslim brother, but inside the Mosque you’re not allowed to actually SEE the Khateeb giving the Khutbah! Yeah, you guys know my views on that. :p Anyway, we were a little early and heard a nice talk in Urdu and then in English. The Urdu dars was very powerful and hilarious and I have to say I enjoyed it a lot and even was able to record a bit for my Mom. He talked about ‘Women’s rights in Islam’ and my favorite part had to be where he said girls should be given the choice of who they marry, just like boys! And anyone who doesn’t do that is a JAHIL! and to keep your JAHALIYYA CULTURAL WAYS back in your own country. Woohoo! It was great. His English “translation” of course wasn’t that eloquent or funny but did the job. Then the actual Khutbah started among Aunties telling everyone in Urdu to move up and make room and line up straight and to donate in the bucket etc. The Auntie next to me asked me if I prayed Sunnah. I was like “Ji haan” lol. I think my Mom would have loved this Mosque.
After Jumah everyone poured out and the parking lot was full of people. There were a few stalls of people selling things but it was so cold we headed back to the car. It’s been the coldest March here in the UK since 1968 and I certainly felt it. Ex-pats from all over seem to complain of the cold here saying they are a lot colder here in the UK than back home in places like Minnesota! I have to add to this and say I never felt cold like this in upstate New York where we have winter for 8 months and below 0 temps with 14 inches of snow on the ground! I think it’s just that nothing was built here for extreme cold and they just don’t heat anything. The restaurants and shops and mosques are not heated, most leave their doors open! Most houses are old and don’t heat properly. UK ppl are used to keeping their windows open even in the dead of winter. In the US in winter we just go from car to house to stores and everything is well insulated and heated. Here there’s a lot of walking and I just think they built everything with summer in mind instead of winter. Anyways! after a very cold bitter walk back to the car we headed up north to the city of Manchester. It was a much nicer experience which I hope to detail in a future post one day!