Ups and downs for the Muslim community of Beaumont Leys as they look forward to Eid

To a passerby, the Home Farm Neighborhood Center is an unassuming community building, much like any other. But inside is one of the only mosques in the Beaumont Leys area, home to a close-knit religious community.

In the neighborhood there is a growing Muslim community. But despite the strength of their community, many still face Islamophobia and adversity.

As Eid fast approaches at the end of the first Ramadan after Covid restrictions, the Islamic community has refused to be shaken.

READ MORE: Eid-ul-Fitr prayers and events take place in Leicester’s parks

The neighborhood center transformed into a mosque was created in 2010

One of the members of the congregation is Nafisa, who has lived in Beaumont Leys for 18 years. The mother of five didn’t speak a word of English when she moved to the area.

She has seen a change from what the area was like when she arrived and how residents now treat Muslims. But she still remembers unsavory incidents on her doorstep.

She said, “People came to my sons and asked them if they were girls, just because they were wearing a Thobi (religious garment). I saw a lot of Islamophobia in the region.

She also recalls once comforting a young boy from the mosque after he was attacked: “I could see the young boy’s face was dejected. He had scratches on his face and he first said he fell off his bike.

“I offered him a bandage and comforted him until he had the courage to tell me that three local boys had pushed him off his bike, without provocation, in broad daylight.”

Despite some of the attacks, Nafisa was able to draw strength from her local community. She said: “Having a mosque here in Beaumont Leys is a dream come true. The mosque is really a central part of my life, and to have a place of refuge that is also in a convenient location is amazing.”

Arifa, mother of two, has lived in Beaumont Leys for 10 years. Her experience of living in the region taught her to be bold and to defend herself.

She said: “There have been countless instances of non-Muslims looking at me and giving me critical looks. I do everything to ignore them. Just yesterday someone came to see me and asked me where I am going and why I wear my abaya, I explained to him that it is part of my religion.

Lateefat moved to the area from Nigeria in 2007 and feels that in her time at Beaumont Leys she did not experience much Islamophobia and appreciates having a strong Muslim community on the estate. She said: “The Muslim community in Beaumont Leys has grown.

“We do pizza nights for young girls, we used to have a group exercise class on Saturdays for women. There’s so much we have to offer here.”

Saima’s husband is the administrator of the mosque. She and her family have lived in Beaumont Leys for 15 years and have seen the area’s Muslim community grow during that time.

She said: “Even during our Friday Jummah prayers, there is usually a sea of ​​people gathering to pray. There have been days when there has been literally no space to pray, especially the last 10 days of Ramadan.

Mosque members celebrating Eid Al-Fitr before COVID
Mosque members celebrating Eid Al-Fitr before COVID

The key to the Muslim calendar is Ramadan and Eid. And in Beaumont Leys, this is no exception.

Lateefat said, “Ramadan is a mandatory fasting period for those who are healthy enough to fast. In the month of Ramadan, we fast from dawn to dusk. The time changes but we usually start around 4am and finish at 8pm.

“During this period, you not only abstain from eating and drinking, but from fighting, backbiting, swearing and all the things that are not good. We pray more intensely, so even when we cook or run daily errands, we recite the Quran.

“God said in the Quran, I have ordained fasting for you so that you can learn God-awareness and increase God-fear. Not fear in a negative way, but fear in regard to respect and reverence for God.

“The purpose of Ramadan is to carry what you have learned and done during the holy month to the rest of the year to make you a better person. This will improve our daily interactions, our daily activities not only with ourselves but with our community at large.

But fasting isn’t easy – something non-Muslims may not fully grasp. Lateefat said, “When Eid is in summer, we can fast for longer hours, sometimes even 18 hours.

“When it’s long, you tend to be more aware that you’re fasting. It’s also hot, so you naturally want to eat and drink more – but we remember there’s a reward at the end of it. and it’s something we get used to.”

Saima said: “Balancing fasting around your normal routine of going to work, taking your kids to school can be difficult – especially when trying to fit more worship into your day.”

“We also have to get up at night for prayers. So lack of sleep can also be very tiring.

Mosque members celebrating Eid before COVID
Mosque members celebrating Eid before COVID

Like all aspects of life, the coronavirus presents challenges for Ramadan and Eid. Saima opened up about how much she missed coming together to worship with each other during the lockdown restrictions.

“Before Covid, the whole community sits down to share food, we recite the Quran together,” she said. “I really missed that.”

Lateefat said, “As a community, we usually invite each other to each other’s homes for Iftar. It couldn’t happen during Covid, but at least this year we can come together to enjoy it.

“There was a time in 2021 when we couldn’t go to each other’s houses, and a friend of mine dropped food on my doorstep just so I could feel a tiny bit of what it was supposed to feel like.”

“During Ramadan we were packed, and every Iftar this month, I thought to myself, I wish we could have Iftar every day for the rest of the year.”

Eid al-Fitr, which means breaking the fast, is a notable time of year for Muslims that commemorates the end of Ramadan. Traditionally, Eid al-Fitr takes place, in line with the sighting of a new crescent moon – this year, which is set to fall on Monday, May 2, which also happens to be a public holiday.

Saima said, “On the eve of Eid, we will clean the mosque and decorate it with balloons, garlands and posters to make it look pretty for the morning Eid prayer. When the kids come they love to see all the shiny decorations, and after the Eid prayer we go on a trip to Rutland Water.

Lateefat said, “Usually we have a BBQ here at the mosque all day long with a bouncy castle for the kids, but this year we are back so we wanted Eid to be bigger and better. Everyone will bring own food and we’ll have a BBQ there.

“In this community, we have people from all walks of life, so Eid really gives us the chance to participate in these different traditional cultures and cuisines. We have this communal mutual love, no matter where you’re from, we’re like a branch of a tree, we all love each other very much and that’s something people can take away from this community.

Comments are closed.