Scientology might be well known in the US and in East Grinstead but in the Ahmadiyya Muslim community very few people know about it. So when my friend Amelia Cavanagh invited me to visit her Church I arranged a group tour for Muslim ladies to see what they have to say. I was baffled before I even got out of my car as I beheld a giant mansion with beautiful paths lined with wide flower borders, surrounded by a feeling of calm and bliss.
We were welcomed with warm hugs and offered a place in the chapel to say our afternoon prayers before the welcome tea was served. A lot of attention was paid to ensure Islamic customs were respected. The drinks and the sandwiches were all halal and a female tour guide was arranged so we would feel more comfortable. Though the question answer session was supposed to be the last thing on the agenda the friendliness of the hosts encouraged even the shiest of our ladies to speak up and enquire about the views of scientology on different topics.
The tour started at the mansion which was the residence of the founder of Scientology, Mr L. Ron Hubbard. Each room was filled with history and antiquities and had beautiful views onto the 60 acre site that was kept in immaculate condition. We visited the winter garden, the library and the monkey room (why it’s called that you will have to find out for yourself). Every room was beautifully arranged and kept true to its original design. Even all items on the desk in the office of Mr Hubbard were kept exactly as he had left them, including a 1966 magazine. We continued the tour to the castle which houses several study facilities and counselling rooms. Walking through the long galleries made me notice that every person I came across had a very calm expression on his face. Not only was everyone very polite and welcoming but it seemed like they were all in tune with themselves and had an aura of serenity. My friend Jilly also noticed this, saying “the whole atmosphere around the estate was peaceful. There was so much I learned and facts which opened my mind to a different thought dimension. The hospitality was outstanding and I felt very welcomed, something I have not experienced at a place of worship before (apart from our own Mosques). I have understood the mysticism of Scientology more”.
To conclude our tour we were offered a second tea and creamed cakes in the pavilion where we spoke about the philosophy of Scientology in more depth. Soon everyone realised how many things Islam and Scientology have in common. The role of religion is to help make us better people. I met good people on this tour who are good because they follow the teachings of their founder. I do not understand it when Scientologists are spoken ill about by followers of main stream religions only because their faith has a different structure. It is unacceptable in 21st century Britain to be judgemental about matters of faith. As my colleague Madiha commented “it was a great opportunity to build an interfaith relationship. We were pleased that they allowed us to pray in their chapel. And we were pleased to hear that we were the first group from the Ahmadiyya Muslim community who ever visited them”.
I organised this trip to a church of Scientology because we know so little about it. My religion teaches peace – and dialogue is a key component for the establishment of peace. We welcome people to visit the Baitul Futuh Mosque in Morden for that same reason – so they can ask questions and understand our beliefs and hopefully draw the same conclusion that we drew today: we’re really not that different after all.