Open Centre – Derby

On Tuesday 12th March the whole school visited the Open Centre at Derby this was to spring board our KS2 RE topic – What can be learned from the Muslim way of life?

We were keen to explore the Derby Jamia Mosque and find out more about the Islamic way of life and also to find out about the fifth Pillar of Islam in the Hajj workshop.

Our Guide and teacher for the day was Nahida.  She met us at the Open Centre and after introductions KS2 re-boarded the coach for the short journey to the mosque.

As a mark of respect we covered our heads and removed our shoes before entering the main prayer hall in the mosque.  Our first impressions were of awe due to the size of the prayer space.  The floor is luxuriously covered in red carpet and the room, although empty of furniture, felt welcoming and warm.

We sat down and listened to Nahida as she proceeded to tell us about the Islamic practise of prayer (Salah) which is the second pillar of Islam. A Muslim prays five times a day and the children were keen to ask many questions about the practicalities of this which Nahida was only too pleased to answer. We learned about wudu – the Islamic ritual of purification before praying. The children were fascinated by the washrooms.

After an interesting and fascinating hour in the Mosque we returned to the Open Centre looking forward to lunch and our Hajj workshop.

We were interested to find out that Nahida has been on Hajj seven times and her familiarity and enthusiasm brought the experience to life for us making it easier for the children to appreciate and understand how important it is for Muslims  to carry out this important religious duty .

The Hajj workshop also consisted of a dressing up session in which the children took great delight – learning first-hand about the clothing males and females wear when on pilgrimage to Mecca.

All too soon it was time to leave.  Our visit to the Open Centre had been a great success and one which the children will remember for a long time to come.

Key stage 1 stayed at the Open Centre and had a taster of what it was like to attend a Jewish Synagogue. They were amazed to find out that buildings used as a Synagogue could have been previously used as other things and identified schools, pubs, shops, old churches and even libraries which had been converted to allow Jewish people to gather to pray, talk and share food.

The children were fascinated that the Jewish ‘Book of Worship’ was in the form of scrolls call the Torah, which they were not allowed to touch, but follow the text from right to left using a finger pointer known as a Yad. The children were surprised to discover that the men and boys sat separately from the women and girls in traditional synagogues. Jude asked ‘Is this because we don’t concentrate very well?’ The teacher laughed and answered ‘Boys can be easily distracted and that is one of the reasons the girls sit behind them.’

Later the children were offered the opportunity to dress as Jewish boys and girls, taste traditional foods and  learnt how to write their names in Hebrew.  They found it difficult to interpret a language which based in symbols and sounds but they thoroughly enjoyed having a go! One of the similarities between the Jewish and Christian faiths is the telling of stories and they were able to recall some of these which are shared by both.

The day was enjoyed by everyone who went to the Open Centre which was full of interesting facts and information that the children talked about during the journey home.