'The community has given me strength,' says mosque president

Bibi Khan, on the Ham&High Podcast

Bibi Khan, on the Ham&High Podcast - Credit: Wightman Road Mosque/Archant

"I think I always fall back on my religion, if I'm honest, and although you may have moments of question, it's not a negative question, it's about you coping."

Like many people in leadership roles, Bibi Khan, president of London Islamic Cultural Society and Mosque, has faced new challenges during the pandemic.

Known as Wightman Road Mosque, the Hornsey centre provides support for families suffering illness and bereavement.

This week, Bibi tells the Ham&High Podcast about the history of the mosque and its close relationship with other religious groups, including Wightman Road's The Gospel Centre and Muswell Hill Synagogue.

The responsibilities it has taken on include countering misinformation about the vaccines, and Bibi said the mosque has had great support from Haringey Council.

"We had the Zoom call to say about vaccines to address the myths of these vaccines, on whether or not Muslims can take it etc," she said. 

"We had two doctors talking, we had the imams talking and answering questions. And on top of that, we've been working with the NHS to actually recommend and send people for the vaccine who fit into the criteria that's being operated now." 

The mosque is currently closed, despite being allowed to open for individual worship, because it was decided it couldn't open safely with the numbers of people who would attend. 

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When it was open, rules were put in place – social distancing, hand sanitiser, addresses taken for test and trace – and Bibi is full of praise for her team of helpers who made it work.

The society was formed in 1983 by Bibi's father, Abdool Alli, and a small group of Muslims predominantly from Guyana in South America, and has grown into a diverse community with 29 different languages spoken at the custom-built mosque.

Despite the tragedy around us, Bibi has found comfort in the community.

"I'm really, really impressed with the way that people have been handling these things," she said. "They can't see their relatives because they're in the hospital, they don't know what's going on, and the moment a doctor calls you to say that you can come to see them, you know it's bad. 

"I'm really, really impressed with the way that people in the community have dealt with it and so then that gives me strength as well."