Ramadan started last week for Brixton’s Islamic community, and the Brixton Mosque, Gresham Road, will be serving up nighttime meals from jerk chicken to Somalian dishes.
Omar Jamaykee, imam at the mosque, described the main activities of a typical Ramadan day: “The mosque will be open most of the time, during the day and night, for people to come in, pray and read if they want. At the time of Iftar, the breaking of the fast, we’ll provide a light meal of dates, water or milk, and after the prayers there’ll be a full proper meal.
“Because we’re very multicultural, we cook traditional dishes from various countries, so sometimes Caribbean, sometimes north African, Somalian, Eritrean, Asian.”
Due to the timing of Ramadan this year, the days are particularly long, over 18 hours in total in the UK.
Brixton mosque is unusual for the diversity of its community. It is also one of the largest convert communities in Britain. “We have a lot of youths in this particular community,” said Jamaykee. “A lot of the converts are youths and they want to communicate Islam to others, going to their friends and explaining the changes they went through and the things that have helped them in changing their lives.”
The mosque has suffered a bad reputation in the past – it was the place of worship for the so-called ‘shoe bomber’ and convert to Islam, Richard Reid. Jamaykee, who joined the community after these events, admits that “Yes, those things were there and we’re still trying to overcome them, but we’ve overcome most of those experiences and we’re better off than before. At that time it meant for us that we had to be more open about what Brixton stood for.”