Letter: Ceremony sparks community spirit and combining of cultures.

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My Dad, Peter Brown (Ali Hussain) converted to Islam in 2004. Although he wasn't a strict Muslim by any means, the religion brought him great peace and some of the messages within the Quran resonated with him, especially during his battle with cancer, which he had beaten a few years prior.

He was also an avid defender of the Palestinian people.

On Sunday 31st December my Dad passed from this world, with my sister and I by his side, holding his hand and forever connected like he always promised.

It was his wish to have a traditional Islamic Ceremony and so it was arranged to be held at the Husaini Islamic Centre in Burton Street, Peterborough.

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Peter BrownPeter Brown
Peter Brown

In Islam, it is traditional to have the ceremony as soon as possible, so preparations for the service were made immediately and prayers were started out of respect by the local Muslim community.

After the Bank Holiday the ceremony was held on Tuesday 2nd January and this coincided with a very special day in their religion as it is the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad’s daughter, Fatima al-Zahra.

Prior to arriving I was quite apprehensive. The fast pace compared to a traditional Christian funeral felt like a whirlwind and I really didn’t know what to expect. I had so many questions in my mind. As non Muslims, would we be welcomed? What did I need to do? What was going to happen?

I need not have worried. On arrival, one of the ladies from the Husaini Islamic Centre greeted us outside and explained everything that was going to happen as well as guiding us through the ceremony as it was happening.

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There were prayers, speeches and Nasheed, which is the traditional Islamic singing, which was beautiful and gave you goosebumps.

We were given red roses by the sweetest little girls and offered food and refreshments including cakes, sweets, pastries, juice and tea.

Many members of the Husaini Islamic Centre community came over to us to give their condolences, stayed for extra prayers for my Dad and the women hugged us afterwards; not just a handful, but an entire room of women, maybe 30 or 40 in total. It was an overwhelming experience and so moving to be treated so kindly during a very difficult time.

Imagine if humanity was always this compassionate and kind. What a wonderful world it would be.

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One thing their Imam (like a vicar) said was “It’s not what my community can do for me, but what I can do for my community.” This really sat with me and grounded me, as regardless of religion, race, gender, age, orientation, that mindset of being a positive influence within the community is what ultimately makes the world a better place.

My Dad was treated like a King and the ceremony was everything that he would have wanted.

He was a man that enjoyed to travel and always emerged himself in other cultures. The experience at the Husaini Islamic Centre was unforgettable, eye-opening and a memory I will cherish forever.

Thank you to everyone that was involved and was there.

Georgia Laidlaw Brown