A SOUTH Tyneside mosque threw open its doors to celebrate an important event on the Muslim calendar.
Practising Muslims in the borough are nearing the end of Ramadan – during which they fast from sunrise to sunset.
To mark the end of the month-long event on Sunday, the Al-Azhar Masjid Mosque, in Laygate, held an open day where visitors were invited to come together to enjoy a meal and prayers.
The evening event was attended by the Mayor and Mayoress of South Tyneside, Coun Fay Cunningham and Stella Matthewson, Coun Pat Hay, representatives from the police and fire service and the local community – many of whom were non-Muslims.
Coun Cunningham, said: “I was absolutely honoured to have been invited to the mosque to take part in what is a very special occasion.
“We have had members of this community living in South Tyneside, in particular Laygate, for almost 200 years.
“I feel honoured that myself and the mayoress have been invited to this event.
“South Tyneside is very proud that we have no, or very few, race relations issues in the borough, and I am also proud of the long tradition we have had in welcoming people from other communities to the borough.”
The month of Ramadan is considered to be the most sacred month of the Islamic calendar.
While fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims also refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations. Food and drink is served daily. Before sunrise there is a pre-fast meal known as Suhoor and, after sunrise, the fast is broken by Iftar, with people eating three dates before heading to prayer ahead of the main meal being served.
A spokesman for the mosque said: “Everyone was really happy with the turn-out and it was really nice of the mayor and mayoress and Coun Hay to attend the event.
“It was nice that people were given the chance to come in and find out more about why we fast, and to join us when we broke the fast.
“The mosque is for everyone and we have an open door policy for people to come in prayer.”