As part of the Year 10 GCSE Religious Studies course, students are learning about two major global religions: Christianity and Islam. To supplement their studies of Muslim teachings and practices, they visited the Al-Khoei Foundation in London. In particular, the trip allowed the group to explore what the term 'Jihad' really means.

The foundation organises many Islamic schools, charities, mosques, and supports Shi’a Muslim communities in general. The head of the Foundation is one of the foremost Islamic thinkers in the UK: Ayatollah Sayyid Fadhel Hosseini Milani.

The day was split into two sections, one in the main Masjid (prayer room) where the students learnt about the different parts that make up the interior of the mosque, and its unique history. They learnt that it used to be a synagogue, and so faces Jerusalem, as well as Mecca - a fact the mosque is very proud of.

The second half was a talk by Mr Milani on the two meanings of Jihad. The Greater Jihad is summarised as one’s fight against one’s own evil desires. This could be to do more good to the world, to help other people, or even better: learning to control your emotions and keep calm.

The second meaning is the lesser Jihad - this is more about a physical war, both offensive and defensive. Mr Milani explained that throughout history, both offensive and defensive wars had been fought by Muslims. He mentioned that although not all could be explained with good reasons, in the modern day the only offensive war being fought is by the organisation ISIS, and most Muslims would agree that they are not representative of the Muslim community.

The day was a rare experience to meet and learn from some of the most influential Muslim thinkers, which will prove to be useful for our studies. Thanks to Mr Graham, Mr Wallington-Smith, and Mr Deakin for organising this trip.