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Admiral given rare insight into life at mosques

17 June 2016
Rear Admiral Alex Burton and his staff presented religious leaders with a mounted crest – a thank-you for the hospitality shown on a visit to the Al Mahdi Mosque, near Fareham.

The Rear Admiral Surface Ships and his team were invited to join worshippers at the mosque, located in the middle of rural Hampshire, for Friday prayers.

The mosque has served the Shia Muslim population of the ancient region of Wessex for nearly a quarter of a century, meeting not just the spiritual needs of its community, but also supporting their education and social needs, and promoting ties with other religions.

The sailors were invited to breakfast in the evening – the visit fell in the holy month of Ramadan – and were given a comprehensive tour of the mosque before joining the congregation in the main hall for Friday prayers with some pamphlets to help them follow proceedings.

This was a real privilege and we all enjoyed much

LStd Ben Goss

“The text on front of the service leaflet advised the congregation to ‘Keep Calm and Pray On’ – a nice touch which shows that even in this important prayer there was a sense of humour and a touch that was appreciated by the visitors,” said Admiral Burton, who wished the Muslim community the traditional greeting of ‘Ramadan mubarak’ (blessings for Ramadan).

There were two sermons by the imam / resident alim, followed by a chance for the admiral and his team to observe prayers.

“You rarely get such a fantastic opportunity to look around a mosque – this was a real privilege and we all enjoyed the visit very much,” said LStd Ben Goss.

Lt Frances Bond added: “It was a pleasure to visit the Mosque and particularly nice to be included in the Prayer of Unity.”

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