BRADFORD men who embarked on a 30-day ‘mosque hop’ during Ramadan have spoken about their enlightening experience.

The holy month sees Muslims across the world fast from dawn to sunset, join together in prayer, and study the Quran.

Many Muslims choose to stay at one mosque throughout Ramadan.  

In search of a unique challenge, friends Asif Iqbal and Mohammed Shauaib attended 30 mosques across West Yorkshire.

They were joined by Mohammed’s 10-year-old son Mohammed Ali every day.

This included 20 in Bradford, two in Keighley, one in Huddersfield, two in Halifax, one in Manchester, three in Leeds, and one in Batley.

The journey included Quran readings by an esteemed reciter who travelled from Egypt and warm welcomes into different communities.

One mosque had an AC unit which released the lovely scent of oud throughout the building.

Many places offered free bottles of water, often donated by local businesses, and food.

Asif, who runs the popular ‘Is it Halal or Haram?’ blog, said: “I had the idea and I said, how do we do this? We ended up curating a list. We worked out how to attend each mosque every day.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Left to right, Mohammed Shauaib, Mohammed Ali, Fathima Sajid, and Asif IqbalLeft to right, Mohammed Shauaib, Mohammed Ali, Fathima Sajid, and Asif Iqbal (Image: Newsquest)

“I’ve seen it many years ago. They call it a ‘masjid hop’. I called it a ‘mosque hop’, just going from mosque to mosque.”

Along the way, Asif and Mohammed’s wives and Asif’s niece Fathima Sajid, 12, joined the trio at several different mosques.

Dad Mohammed said: “We just wanted to get a different experience. I’ve been going to the same mosque all my life, since I was 10 years old.

“We really enjoyed going to all the different mosques because it gave us a different feeling of the different areas and cultures, how they recite [the Quran]. What was really engaging was the beautiful recitals we’ve heard from all the various mosques. It’s amazing how many people know the holy book by heart.

“The beautiful recitations, although it was tiring at times, it kept us engaged. That’s one of the most enjoyable parts of it, the melodious voices. You look forward to the next mosque and what it’s going to offer.

“One of the mosques, Mustafa Centre, they had a reciter from Egypt come and recite after the prayers. It was just so beautifully that he read the Quran. I was told by one of my other friends he’s one of the best reciters in the world.”

Speaking about the hop’s impact on his son, he said: “Last year we stayed at the mosque in BD3. He read all 30 of them with me. I said to my son, would you like to go around 30 different mosques? His eyes just lit up. He was really excited and fascinated by the idea. He couldn’t wait to get started.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bradford blogger Asif Iqbal who runs the online brand 'Is it Halal or Haram?'Bradford blogger Asif Iqbal who runs the online brand 'Is it Halal or Haram?' (Image: UGC)

For Asif, it showed him how mosques are going beyond their port of call as a place of worship.

Across each mosque, there were different schemes and services. This included an imam offering advice over tea and biscuits and NHS teams ready to offer mental health support after prayers.

Other places had jiu-jitsu classes for children, freshly cooked food for Iftar, and even registered homeopaths.

More places than ever were offering facilities for women and children, Asif said.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Asif said: “It’s amazing what’s out there. All of the mosques offered something different to the communities.

“You get to see a big change at the moment. In Manchester you had people from all walks of life or Somalians, Indonesians. You get to meet people. That was nice to see.”

Reflecting on their tour, Asif said: “It was a really good experience. It was something different every day. I loved hearing the speeches, it wasn’t just about listening to the Quran, it was a bit like bible study.

“It helped us to see the unity you get in Ramadan, that’s the biggest thing. It’s about helping everyone. It’s about your character. Every mosque we went into, that’s what they were trying to get out there.

“All religions teach the same.

“It’s just unity. That was what seems to be missing at the moment with everyone. The whole purpose is to bring communities together.”