Sabah Ahmedi, Manchester's youngest Iman

Meet one of the youngest Imams in Britain: a visit to the Darul Amaan Mosque

  • Manchester's youngest Imam speaks to NQ reporter G Randall
  • Sabah discusses LGBTQ+ inclusivity, false perceptions of Islam, and being shut down on social media
  • 'Our ongoing goal is to spread the true teachings of Islam'

Sabah Ahmedi doesn’t have a white beard or wear a thobe (long robe worn by Muslim men) but follows all the disciplines of Islam, praying five times a day and even using social media to combat misinformation about Islam. What is unusual about Sabah is he’s friends with Big Zuu, a London-based rapper. 

Sabah did his seven-year course to become an Imam a few years ago.

At the time he asked his soon-to-be wife, Melissa, if she was ready to commit to a life of dedicating herself to the faith with him – he could promise no flashy cars, but a lifetime of ‘love and understanding’.

He grew up attending the Darul Amaan Mosque in Hulme and says standing shoulder to shoulder during prayer time is one of the things he misses the most during the pandemic.

Sabah is one of the youngest Imam’s in Britain, let alone Manchester, who spends his days teaching the public about the messages of peace from the Quran.

The 1:30 pm prayers were being acknowledged as I was welcomed into the Darul Amaan.

Kneeling or sitting to pray is all done socially distanced

Sabah is very prominent within the religious community in Britain as he encourages interfaith education, and his next big project is a partnership with the UN to tackle violent extremism at home and abroad. A few years ago, the community raised millions of pounds for British charities.

“We had an event with Sadiq Khan where we handed out cheques to the charities we raised money for,” Sabah said. 

“Events like this showing Muslims feeding those who can’t afford to eat show how fantastic the community is.”

During the pandemic we helped over 50,000 people [through various forms of charity work], and we have the youth helpline called MKA (Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya) people can call to ask for food or medication to be delivered.

“Stories like these we need to amplify, rather than cherry-picking the negative stories that so-called Muslims who create fear within people’s minds about Islam. Killing innocent people has nothing to do with Islam.”

Although the Quran may not support practices such as homosexuality, Sabah makes clear that anyone from the LGBTQ+ community who would like to attend the mosque would not face any discrimination.

He also supports the idea of multi-faith worship rooms within companies if that’s what people of faith need, saying: “it works in airports and hospitals, we have to respect and be tolerant of each other’s needs.”

Anti-Muslim rhetoric in the wake of terror attacks in the last decade has led to a lot of misconceptions about the religion, but aside from this issue, Sabah also contends with critics from within the Muslim community. He lost access to his TikTok account and believes that sectarianism is half of the battle with the work he does.

“Our ongoing goal is to spread the true teachings of Islam,” he said. 

This sectarianism Sabah mentions may have been the reason behind his loss of access to Instagram, too.

This week he received a notification that his Instagram had been shut down.

The account he runs, which puts out information about Islam, received the message that it had ‘breached community guidelines.’

Before this, he had around 6,500 followers and was on his journey to be being a faith-based micro-influencer.

Losing this platform would mean his online reach would reduce substantially.

I don’t care about brand deals or sponsorships, I don’t make any money from it. I use my social media to spread the message of hope and stop misinformation

Fortunately, the day of our meeting at the Darul Amaan Mosque, he regained access to his Instagram, with the tech giant saying the deactivation was a mistake.

He will continue to split his time between Manchester and London to continue working as The Young, and progressive, Imam.