Mosque in Spain offers free English classes and removes misconceptions about Islam


Abdusalaam Stedman, Spain Correspondent

Zafar Rasheed Sahib, a missionary of Jamaat Spain reports that Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Spain had a unique opportunity to collaborate with the local authorities to provide help to residents in this diffi cult time of Covid-19, at Basharat Mosque, Cordoba, Spain.

Over a period of three months, free English learning classes were held with the help of the mayor and her team at the local town hall of Pedro Abad. The classes were arranged for people who wanted to learn English at a beginner’s level. The classes were arranged in the conference hall situated in the premises of the Basharat Mosque.

The duration of the class was two hours and were on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The two teachers were Tahira Ilahi Sahiba (who taught online), Tarik Ata ul Munim Sahib, Zafar Rasheed Sahib and myself (Abdusalaam Stedman).

Before the classes were arranged, amir Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Spain along with national secretary tabligh held meetings with the Mayor of Pedro Abad and the councilor of equality and co-existence, in which details regarding the format of the class, duration, technical support, etc. were finalised.

Due to the pandemic, it was decided that no more than 15 people could attend the class at a time. 17 people registered for the class and 11 people had 80% or more attendance and were eligible for exams.

The councilor of equality and coexistence also thanked the Ahmadiyya Community in Spain for organising the classes and helping the town hall.

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The Elementary Course’s books of Oxford University and other helping material was used to teach the students.

Despite the fact students had difficulty in learning English, eight out of 10 students passed the final exam the teachers had set. Before and during the class, teachers also held meetings and were in touch to keep up to date with the progress and developments of the class and discussed the difficulties and how to tackle them.

Likewise, the teaching plan and the follow up on the teaching plan was also done on a regular basis.

The exam was held on 15 December 2020, and then on 17 December, a small concluding ceremony was held to distribute certificates among students. This event was also held in the conference hall inside the premises of Basharat Mosque.

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In this ceremony, amir Jamaat Spain, the mayor of Pedro Abad and the councilor of equality and co-existence were present, while national secretary tabligh and two teachers joined virtually.

The mayor of Pedro Abad invited national secretary tabligh to say a few words. He said:

“Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya all around the world is always at the forefront to help people in any way possible, as it is one of the duties of a Muslim which he owes to the society. We will continue to hold such programmes, which benefit our neighbours here in Pedro Abad and in Spain. I thank the respected mayor and her councilor for providing the material and support for the classes. In future, culinary, Arabic calligraphy or Arabic language classes can also be held here if people are interested in learning or we can diversify the future classes including such things.”

The students present at the conference hall appreciated his idea. The mayor said the following words:

“First I want to thank Mr Razak, Amir of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat [Spain] for his continuous support. I have always found the Jamaat and Mr Razak, helpful in all the positive and society building activities. The town hall was trying to arrange for an English course for some time, but lacked the professional support, so when Mr Razak proposed to hold these classes here in this conference hall, I could not help agreeing to it.

“Ever since the Basharat Mosque has been built, the Ahmadiyya Community has always helped the local community and authorities in any manner they can. I have always felt welcome here. Mr Razak has always encouraged me to promote that the people can come to the mosque whenever they want to as it is just like their home and they are always more than welcome here.”

Amir Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Spain said:

“I thank the mayor for her appreciation. We have many mosques all around the world. This mosque is for you, so you are always welcome here. Whenever you want, you may come to the mosque to visit at any time, consult us about your English problems or just study some books in the library. You can come visit the mosque with your family. We are always more than happy to receive you. You should listen to the radio and other programmes to improve your English. We are always here to help you in any way we can. We are here to help humanity because service to humanity is the first and foremost thing.”

The councilor of equality and co-existence said:

“To organise a class with collaboration of the mosque administration was a new yet very pleasant experience for me. All people I have met here are very respectful and helping, which encouraged us. Many students have started asking me when the next course will start?”

Amir Sahib later invited some students for their comments.

One student said:

“I have seen the mosque from outside many times, but there was some sort of hesitation that stopped not only me, but maybe a lot of other people as well to enter the mosque. But having a class in the mosque premises helped me overcome my hesitation. Meeting the people of the mosque and knowing them is a memorable experience. A lot of my colleagues who have come to know about the class, are feeling sorry that they lost such a good opportunity.”

Another female student said:

“Although I was not able to attend the last few classes because of my work, but to come here and attend the classes was an unforgettable experience for me. I am looking forward to the next course and to be able to attend that. I think even though this mosque has been here for a long time, many people think that this is for them [Muslims], and that is why they distant themselves from the mosque. But coming here, meeting with you all and learning in such a friendly environment helped me change my opinion. And I think it also helped change others as well. It has left a very good impression on me.” Another student said:

“The manner in which they have taught here, in a friendly and open environment and the pace they chose for the class encouraged us all to make some effort to learn although it felt difficult at the start. How the teachers have taught here, I cannot think of any other place, where they could teach in such a great manner.”

The councilor of equality and co-existence, thanked Amir Sahib and the mayor of Pedro Abad and invited Amir Sahib to distribute certificates among the students.

The certificates were distributed in three categories: for those who only registered for the course; for those who attended some classes, but were not able to sit in the exam and for those who have passed the exam.

After the distribution of the certificates, a small introductory video about Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya and its services was shown.

At the end, in accordance with Islamic teachings of hospitality, refreshments were presented.

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