2015 has been a period of change for Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre (GLMCC). We have introduced a number of new services, expanded our current delivery and, in some instances, discontinued older services.
Our main aims and objectives for 2015 were focused largely on consolidating the services launched in the previous two years. This was a very important step for us as a community masjid because it allowed us to tweak the services and to iron out any teething problems. In the latter part of 2015, GLMCC proactively sought to strengthen the infrastructure of the masjid through expanding the core administrative function. This allowed work to be spread out and to strategically develop the future of the organisation by planning expansion of current and new services.
GLMCC undertook an organisation wide review of its activities, as a result of which a new infrastructure was created. A new centralised administrational and management system was created to bring each service and department in line to roll out a central strategy. This has also spearheaded the change that GLMCC has needed to modernise and create opportunities for the future.
Dawah at GLMCC has always played a central role. A major change during this period was to review and update how it functioned. Whilst conferences and seminars were always popular, a need for structured learning was identified. A new Dawah Committee was setup to identify and plan new courses to be rolled out in 2016.
GLMCC, again working with the local community as part of Celebrate Eid, delivered ‘Eid in the Park 2015’. Over 60,000 people congregated in a local park to offer Eid Prayers. We also facilitated and delivered a festival which consisted of a family funfair, a soft play area, a bazaar consisting of food and non-food stalls, while recording and broadcasting the event. As a community organisation, it was especially important that non-Muslim members of the community could also join in the Eid day celebrations. The success of the event, with support from various organisations such as Human Appeal, Birmingham City Council, West Midlands Fire Service, West Midlands Police and St John’s Ambulance, far exceeded expectations.
2014 has been a period of change for Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre (GLMCC). We have introduced a number of new services, expanded our current delivery, and in some instances, discontinued older services.
Our main aims and objectives for 2014 were focussed largely on consolidating the services launched in 2013. This was a very important step for us as a community masjid because it allowed us to tweak the services and to iron out any teething problems. In the latter part of 2014, GLMCC proactively sought to strengthen the infrastructure of the masjid through expanding the core admin function. This allowed work to be spread out and strategically develop the future of the organisation by planning expansion of current and new services.
GLMCC again working with the local community as part of Celebrate Eid, delivered ‘Eid in the Park’. Over 40,000 people congregated in a local park to offer Eid Prayers in unison. We also facilitated and delivered a festival which consisted of a free funfair for children, soft play area, a bazaar consisting of food and non-food stalls, while recording and broadcasting the event.
These and other such initiatives enabled GLMCC to collaborate further with the emergency services and local government organisations. Planning for FaithWatch commenced in late 2014 (to be launched in 2015). It was a project in conjunction with West Midlands Police, local faith and non-faith organisations, designed to take control back on local streets to make the neighbourhood a safer place.
Young Ummah, the youth branch of GLMCC continued to develop. Youth were actively involved in fundraising activities. They took ownership of raising funds for Youth activities by setting up and delivering stalls during school holidays. This experience gave the youth an insight into business and fundraising techniques.
GLMCC as a pioneer in religious education and propagation, held a series of lectures, ‘ISIS Crisis’ to raise awareness of the threat of extreme, ideologies which have deliberately targeted disaffected youth. The aim was to highlight the manipulation techniques employed along with the real stance of Islam against these dangerous creeds.
Finally, the GLM Foodbank was launched with the sole purpose of alleviating poverty in Birmingham. The reality of poverty was shocking and an eye opener for the entire community. Working with external agencies such as job centres, housing associations, schools and other charities, GLM Foodbank has been able to assist both Muslims and non-Muslims during hardship. The service has expanded at a rapid rate to include non-food items.
Fundamental to Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre is the worshipping of Allah Almighty; the Lord of the Worlds. Religious services such as daily prayers, Friday prayers and Tarawih prayers during Ramadan helped thousands of Muslims within the local community to fulfil a fundamental obligation within the Islamic faith.
The numbers attending the daily congregational prayers averaged 600. In addition, the Friday prayers averaged at 3,500. During holiday periods the masjid was full beyond capacity, accommodating over 5,000 worshippers, utilising every space possible including the car park.
The success of Eid prayer in the park in 2012 opened the gates for bigger and better Eid prayers in line with Prophetic tradition, Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha prayers took place in Small Heath Park and were attended by 16,000 and 12,000 worshippers respectively.
Education is fundamental to GLMCC. Using the recently purpose built space and modern technology, GLMCC is able to hold regular classes on site such as languages, various Islamic education courses, seminars and lectures. The aim is to educate Muslims so they understand and practice Islam away from any form of extremism. Islamic education is also extended to non-Muslims such as regular Open Days and Dawah Stalls to help people increase their understanding of the Islamic creed without any prejudices.
For the Madrasah in 2013 saw the 2012 initiatives come into fruition. The change in curriculum, the teacher training programmes and the administrative changes saw a more professional approach in the development of Madrasah Salafiyah. Adding to the new space this has proven to be a conducive learning environment for the children. Teacher-parent relationships and teacher-pupil relationships have been nurtured through more consultative evenings, parent evenings, and increased feedback mechanisms.
This has been reflected in intracommunications between teachers, support staff and governors. The year saw a number of events which highlighted the ongoing progression and success of the Madrasah. The beginning of the year started with a national competition where 5 Madrasah Salafiyah students were recognised for their outstanding performances and were presented with prizes by Prince Naif of Saudi Arabia. During Ramadan, a number of students also led portions of the evening Prayer. November then saw its first Graduation Ceremony in the newly refurbished site.
The renovation work at GLMCC enabled the classrooms to be utilised throughout the day providing adult education classes. The language courses offered are Arabic, Tajweed, Tilawah, Hifdh and Qaida classes have been open to Muslim men and women. The number of students enrolling on the language courses in 2013 exceeded 400. Each subject comprises different levels to suit all abilities. This included adult Quran classes for new Muslims and Qaida classes for women who did not speak English as a first language, all offered at a pace that suited them.
Youth are a massive focal point for GLMCC. We do our utmost to provide secular and non —secular activities that are relevant to the younger age group. More so, we want to instil Islamic and British values in our youth so they grow up to be responsible adults to the betterment of the entire community. These regular activities are supported by events especially catered for youth such as Sex & Relationship Education (SRE) workshops, overnight stay and Real Talk which encourages interactive discussions and workshops that are pertinent to this age group. The youth are addressed at the annual conferences with Youth Sessions coinciding with lectures, The Masjid has held an annual mini-Muslimah Day for primary school age girls. In 2013, The Budding Believers monthly sessions were introduced for youngsters up to age 11 and was inclusive for boys and girls.
2012 saw GLMCC’s first outdoor Eid prayer at Sara Park. GLMCC worked closely with Birmingham City Council and the Parks Committee to book the space. Over 40 volunteer stewards were brought in from the growing number of GLM Volunteers. The turnout was far beyond what was expected and there was a great sense of unity throughout the park as other local Islamic Centres also directed their congregation to this event.
Educating the community is an on-going effort to develop them and prepare members of our society for tomorrow. GLMCC does its upmost to cultivate the community using a variety of different methods and initiatives. In 2012 it split the focus to engage with the community in different forms. It focused on the re-model of the Madrasah; an evening school for children from nursery age to 11 years old. The Tarbiyah Program is an overnight stay program packed with interactive education for over 100 people aged 16 and above . For the community aged between 12 and 20 a Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) workshop welcomed a large number of youth to teach them about this important topic.
Taking the form of an Islamic exhibition, open days are intended to allow the general public to ask those questions that they would not usually have the opportunity to ask. Although the use of glossy posters, AV equipment and refreshments add to the aesthetic quality, the most beneficial aspect of the open days is the opportunity for prolonged dialogue between guest and host. The feedback received has been positive with a number of guests commending the effort. It is also worth noting that the Green Lane Masjid sisters team are also actively involved in this project and that it is run on the day by both brothers and sisters.
The second half of 2012 saw the launch of the pilot phase of GLMCC’s much awaited online matrimonial service, Pure Match. The service is exclusively for practising Muslims associated to GLMCC. The service establishes a membership base comprising entirely of Muslims seeking marriage who all conform to the Salafi practice, with such criteria the service ensures a higher level of compatibility between the members.
Young Ummah Youth Club for Girls’ was launched in February 2012 to deliver consistent (weekly) youth related activities for 11 – 19 year old girls, to teach girls about social values, moral conduct and make them aware of their British identity, as well as to create community cohesion within the young community. Within the youth club all areas of youth development are covered – academic, social, religious/moral (Tarbiyyah), recreational, life skills, counselling /mentoring and over the course of 2012 the club had over 150 girls registered.
Facilitating the daily prayers sets the foundations for the main objective of the prayer space. Over the past 4 years this has grown drastically and the congregation further continues to grow. Due to the renovation work taking place, this year saw a number of challenges. The community hall was out of bounds for worshippers which resulted in the purchase of Marquee. In effect, parking spaces were lost however close consultations with surrounding businesses we managed to make up for the lost space.
Construction started in March 2011 on the Masjid Refurbishment/School project which will see the redevelopment of the Old Masjid and Community Hall. The project started with the excavation of the old swimming pool in the Community Hall with the construction of a kitchen and ablutions area.
The school visits initiative was devised and implemented towards the start of 2010 with the primary aim of allowing primary school children and teaching staff to visit Green Lane Masjid & Community Centre. Birmingham is a melting pot of different races, creeds and backgrounds, and one of the intentions behind providing this service is to facilitate open discussion and exploration of these differences. With that in mind, relevant material outlining the basic tenets of Islamic faith and culture was carefully selected to be delivered to children and teaching staff alike. A constant interest from schools has allowed this initiative to develop throughout 2011 with initial ideas put aside to make way for more a refined and polished presentation.
On the 7th June the Chair of Trustees and other board members of Birmingham Children’s Hospital visited GLMCC. The main aim was to develop links between the hospital and GLMCC. A massive 47% of the hospital’s patients are from the Muslim community The Chair and members of the board were given a tour of the masjid, as well as presentation on the Islamic faith and the masjid’s activities. Following on from this GLMCC convened an Islamic Awareness Seminar for the board of directors of the hospital. An extensive Q& A session was held during the day to address many issues that hospital staff face when dealing with Muslims. They were also given a tour the mosque and observed the congregational prayer and a funeral prayer.
GLMCC organised an Eid dinner for non-Muslims. Every year we try to invite new guests to the Masjid, from the contacts we make during the course of the year. In keeping with previous years over 80% of the guests had not previously attended this type of event. In total we had over 60 guests. The total number of attendees was about 100 including community members, elders, and GLMCC committee members.
2010 at Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre (GLMCC) has been a busy and fruitful year, and all praise is due to Allah. Not only have we continued to build upon the success of 2009 by maintaining and increasing our regular activities, we have also raised vast sums of money for people affected by natural disasters around the world, as well as embarking upon some new and exciting projects. For this, we thank Allah first and foremost, and then thank our community for the continued support they have shown us.
Our regular classes and events continue to go from strength to strength. We held two very successful feature conferences, in the summer and winter respectively. Both were attended by internationally notable speakers and their success was attested to by the large attendances at both conferences. We continue to host national and international speakers on a regular basis and emphasis on our outreach da’wah work has also intensified. Non-Muslim open days and workshops for schools in the Masjid are now a regular activity.
August 2010 saw a disaster of epic proportions affect regions of Pakistan with widespread flooding throughout the country. By the grace of Allah, GLMCC was able to play its part in helping to bring relief to the affected people. Within a month, over £150,000 was raised and distributed to people in Pakistan, helping to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.
2010 also saw the beginning of the largest refurbishment project GLMCC has ever seen in its history. The Community Hall and Old Masjid were in severe disrepair, and so a project estimating to cost around £1.3 million will see the complete refurbishment of these areas into a new boy’s secondary
school, as well as overspill areas for the Masjid and classrooms for the Madrassah (evening school) and other events. Insha Allah, this project will be completed by summer 2012.
GLMCC is also reviewing its strategic direction and governance so as to better improve the way it operates and redefine its vision and objectives. This will be complete by the latter part of 2011 insha Allah. As another year comes to an end, and we look forward to the start of a new year, with all the existing and ongoing projects, we are hopeful, with the help of Allah that we will continue to meet the needs of our community and offer the services they most require. For this we thank Allah, the Most High, without His aid nothing is possible. We also thank our management team, dedicated members of staff and the enthusiastic volunteers we are fortunate to have, as well as the wider community for their support and help.
It is from the grace and favour of Allah Almighty, that he has made 2009 a year in which our work at Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre (GLMCC) has flourished. Everything from our regular classes and services to our da’wah work and community projects has been greatly enhanced.
By the grace of Allah, over 3,000 people come through the doors of GLMCC on a weekly basis. This figure increases dramatically in Ramadhan and during our feature events such as conferences. We now regularly cater for different segments of our community and educate them in a variety of languages; from daily classes to monthly workshops to annual conferences. None of this would be possible however, without the blessings of Allah first and foremost, and then the hard and tireless work and dedication of the GLMCC staff and volunteers who ensure the success of these activities on a daily basis. The success of the summer and winter conferences of 2009 demonstrates this.
GLMCC has also been able to establish dedicated regular classes and events catering for ladies, who unfortunately can sometimes be overlooked. In order to make them feel a part of the Masjid,
GLMCC has a dedicated Sisters Committee which actively works on a daily basis to organise and arrange beneficial classes and programmes for the ladies. In order to further assist in the accommodation of all these classes and events, GLMCC has made structural improvements to the building, with the installation of a new carpet in the men’s and women’s prayer halls, as well as the installation of moving partitions in the men’s prayer hall.
After the blessings of Allah, it was once again the donations of our generous community which enabled us to complete these projects. As well as the improvements, GLMCC has also an established funeral facility and reference library for the community’s use.
GLMCC also played an active role in helping the international Muslim community. The Masjid raised £51,376 in total for Gaza and held other fundraisers for natural disasters in Pakistan and Indonesia.
In short, GLMCC has moved to work with our neighbours, local communities and schools, civil and government bodies as well as other organisations in order to foster better community cohesion, and together tackle the issues which face us collectively as British citizens and Muslims.