CAIRO - A mosque in the Indian city of Hyderabad has turned to using the English language for sermons in an effort to draw worshippers and spread the true message of Islam.
"I am more conditioned to listening to English and understand it better than I understand Urdu, Insiya Abdul Raheem, a 23-year-old psychology graduate, told the Times of India on Tuesday, June 12.
And since I have a thirst for understanding religion, it makes sense that I come to this mosque."
The mosque in Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, has started to offer English-language services to worshippers.
The program bore immediate fruits, bringing in more visitors regularly to the air-conditioned hall.
Reflecting the success of the idea, the mosque has seen the more affluent Indians in the area come to the mosque for the weekly Friday prayers.
Worshippers vouch for the mosque's comfortable ambience which they say is conducive to religious learning.
Unlike traditional scholars, the mosque offers lectures and sermons on topical subjects by professionals working with various firms who have a practical approach to religion.
A large number of foreign students also come to the mosque as lectures are given in English, different from other mosques which offer the Friday sermon in Urdu.
"Everything the young Muslim does is in English, said Syed Zaheeruddin, a 28-year-old assistant manager in an MNC in Hi-Tec City.
We were educated in school with English as the medium of instruction. We discharge our professional duties in English.
And despite Urdu being our mother tongue, we speak to our children in English at home too. So, everything taught here sinks effortlessly."
Mosque officials say the English sermons were the first step to attract worshippers back to mosques.
"The principle of communication is the transmission of ideas and knowledge, said Mirza Yawar Baig, an IIM-A graduate of 1985 batch and a management consultant serving as both as imam and khateeb of the mosque.
English has become the language of the world and of education of the youth.
Ironic as it may seem, it made perfect sense to disseminate knowledge of their own faith in the English language.
To help Muslims perform their religious duties, it was important that they understood them first, Baig added.
It is important that I speak in a language that people understand since many understand English better than they understand their own mother tongue, he said.
The qutbah (sermon) aims to help Muslims to understand their lives and current events in the context of the Quran, sunnah (teachings of the Prophet) and Islamic history.
The purpose of the qutbah is defeated if people don't understand it."There are some 140 million Muslims in India, making up 13 percent of the country's 1.1 billion population.