"I am a revert (convert) to Islam. I have been coming to the Wycombe Islamic Society (WISE) for four years. I have regularly attended lectures and classes at WISE and contrary to recent articles in the press, I can honestly say that I have never heard of any extremism or terrorism being taught by anybody. On the contrary, I have been taught that to be a Muslim, we must avoid all kinds of extremism which has led me to lead a more balanced, improved life where I am at ease & at peace with myself, with my creator & with everyone around me. Just two weeks ago I was attending a class where we were taught that contracts upon us (Muslims) are binding and very important, to the extent that we shouldn't phone in to work sick if we are not really sick as that would be a breach of contract. Now anybody who is either born in this country or who has entered it enters into a contract where he swears to abide by the laws of the land and not to harm anybody, especially innocent people, amongst other things. If we wanted to harm someone or break these rules in any way, we would have to leave the country & declare our intentions before we re-enter the country, in which case I'm sure we wouldn't be allowed back in...
Now if that's not anti extremism, I don't know what is?"
"I have been attending WISE for the past 4 years and in that time I have benefited from the numerous amount of activities at the center.
I am someone who has volunteered a number of times, and arranged events with the mosque and have come to know that the mosque teaches us to have exception manners and conduct with anyone and everyone.
The mosque is open to people of all faiths and sexual orientation benefiting from their services and denounces the murdering of innocent people and the like.
Before attending the WISE center, I used to take my islamic knowledge from the internet, which wouldn't always be a good thing and I would be confused as to what are the correct teachings. However, after attending the classes and lessons at the mosque, I have understood the teachings of my religion and now conduct myself, as a civil human being who cares for all of humanity.
I now run a business with a close partnership with people from all different backgrounds, races, religions and sexual orientations. I credit much of my conduct and morals due to the teaching I have received from the center, the mentors and the teachers."
"My name is Jim Greaves, and although I don't live in High Wycombe (I live in Wantage), I am very happy to share my experiences of your mosque.
My wife and I are not Muslims, but my son Robert is married to a lifetime Muslim, and he himself has been a devout Muslim for over 10 years.
My wife and I have several times been invited to WISE events, and have always been made to feel very welcome at your mosque, and have very much enjoyed your hospitality.
My son has fully embraced Islam, and his interpretation is based on the teachings in the Quaran. He is a regular worshipper at your mosque, and he has never felt uncomfortable about any views expressed there, and has many friends there.
I would like to thank you for encouraging understanding between Islam and other faiths, and for making my wife and me feel very much "at home" in your mosque.
With best wishes"
"I have been associated with Wycombe Islamic Society and Masjid As Salaam for the last 6 years now and a regular visitor as well as user of the facilities at WISE. My experiences have always been positive with WISE. All of the members are very welcoming and have always been open to listen to views. I have never seen anything of a concern or alarm to me, or any extreme views on any of the current affairs. They are always willing to help, and go out of the way in serving the needs of local community, and the wider society."
"I have been attending WISE for around 3 to 4 years now and I have found the mosque to be quite a welcoming, warm community.
The centre very happily allow Muslims and non-Muslims to visit the mosque to learn about Islam or perhaps for a cup of tea in the weekly open hour, where people of all faiths can come and join in with the community cohesion.
As well as this, there are also a number of other activities for people of all ages, for both men and women, run by the centre to bring the community together and to help learn more about Islam.
Attending the various classes and lectures at the centre I am well aware that the mosque does not hold any extreme views and have spoken against extreme behaviour in the past, holding firm to the Orthodox views of Islam."
I would like to share my experience of WISE as an organisation and also the islamic centre/masjid.
Alhamdulillah (all praise to Allah), i consider myself to be very fortunate to be living in UK and specifically in High wycombe. People are lovely, population is diverse and all communities are trying hard to integrate with each other.
One of my main attractions in High wycombe is WISE and its islamic centre. My husband works in london but i have refrained from moving to london due to presence of WISE here which has become part of my family's life.
My son attended the saturday school at Wise untill he went to university a year ago to do medicine. He has turned out to be a very balanced and practicing muslim who was provided the right islamic education at Wise. I fear that if young muslim children/young men are not provided the right islamic education or no islamic education, they are an easy target to all the wrong messages about religion. I have always felt safe sending my son to Wise centre and i am happy that i sent him there in his formative years. I pray to Allah that all the brothers involved in his education get good reward for it.
My daughter currently attends the sunday school and this has been such a stabilising factor in her life. She talks very passionately about her teachers and finds them inspiring. She went to a private school throughout and the fact of life was that she was the only muslim in her class for several years. I think it is very important for our children to integrate with the wider community but it is equally important to develop an identity and i think the attendance at Wise centre helped my daughter develop an identity, integrate into wider community and helped her develop into a very delightful and strongminded young lady with a very clear sense of right and wrong (she wouldn't hurt even an ant) and i believe inshallah (if Allah wills) has a lot of potential to contribute to society positively.
As for me, i love going to the tuesday (which is my only weekday off from work) women's group. The teacher is amazing and the other sisters are so mature, kind and striving very hard to practice correct islam. Many are highly educated and contributing to wider society positively. Everyones focus is to practise islam correctly, where there is no place for violence towards innocent people, general public or the govt.
I hope and pray that more people join wise and the good work at Wise continues."
"Having moved to Wycombe several years ago, I've found the WISE community to be both open and very welcoming. People in the mosque are always happy to greet me with a smile and stop for a few minutes to have a quick chat and whenever I've needed help with anything, I've never had a problem in finding people to give me a hand. I've particularly benefited from several of the activities and events the mosque runs, from the community BBQs to the classes held in the mosque, and firmly believe that WISE has a role to play in making Wycombe a better place to live for both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
In light of current events, it's even more important that the mosque continues to take an active role in promoting a balanced perspective of Islam so that those vulnerable members of the community are less likely to fall prey to ideas not promoted in Islam and it has shown itself well-placed to do this as evidenced by the attendance of youth at the mosque for events like the ISIS Crisis series or the like"
"I am very disappointed to hear about the way WISE is being portrayed by the national media.
I have been attending WISE for many years and personally, WISE has had a positive effect on my life and also my family and I have nothing but praise for them and the work they do for the local community.
I have attended all the Mosques over the years in High Wycombe, but none compare to WISE in what they deliver to the community.
WiSE is truly an organisation that is bringing a betterment to the community, which can be seen by the projects they are involved in.
WiSE engages with other faith groups, attends public meetings and always has an open door policy where they run educational sessions for different depts, such as the police, local council, schools and different faith organisations.
What they do for the children no other islamic organisation is currently able to offer. They are tirelessly working very hard to run and provide activities for children of all age ranges, with a greater focus on the teenagers to make sure they are provided with the type of facilities and activities to keep them focused and out of trouble and off the streets."
"I'm 17 years old and it is no exaggeration to say that I love WISE. I have thoroughly benefited from the many opportunities provided by our community masjid. I have attended several Sunday classes and regular weekly prayers since I was around 10years old with my family. I am a member of the TeenWISE committee a youth group for girls independently run by us, through the years I have gained huge amounts of knowledge, inspiration, life skills, an entire community of friends and respect for WISE. From Thorpe park trips to sleepovers in the mosque together, I have never once encountered any extremist views or radicalisation. In fact, I am sure there have been seminars on peace and anti extremism instead. I have always felt 100% comfortable in any event gathering or session held by the masjid or its members. I believe I am the strong, peaceful, respectful Muslim I today because of the safe nurturing environment and role models provided at WISE."
"Wise masjid has been an educational and socially beneficial influence in my life.
Coffee mornings with reminders have provided the chance for sisters from the local community to meet in a relaxed environment. I have seen new revert sisters and sisters of faith form emotionally supportive friendships.
Boxercise classes which also invite non-muslims have helped us back to be aware of health and give back our fitness mojo!
I have attended other masjids but appreciate the welcome for women due to the varied activities provided for all ranges of people. Starting from young children ie. Islamic classes, Teenwise events for girls and Arabic studies for older men and women.
The lectures assist and enrich the understanding of our peaceful religion and on many occasions we have dinner treats which end in a happy community spirit.
WISE enriches special occasions such as Ramadan. It provides my family the treasure of spiritual connection through long blessed peaceful prayer. Respectfully it always stresses the importance of courtesy to the neighbouring residents.
Another special auspicious occasion is Eid prayer it enables community to meet and greet making a great start to Eid day before heading off to plans with friends/family. Many have family and many do not so the greets become very meaningful.
There are many valuable memorable and positive experiences I'm having and all are due to WISE masjid.
"I have attended the mosque since I was quite young and it has been a great peaceful place providing many groups for learning and leisure . Wise masjid is unbelievably welcoming with its large supportive community and an environment I feel happy and safe in."
"My family has been attending the WISE mosque since my siblings and I were young children. In the 16 years that I have been part of the WISE community, my experiences have only been positive. I have come across fantastic teachers who always emphasised the value of living life with good morals, as good Muslims and as good citizens. My family and I have made friends for life from all races, backgrounds and ethnicities through the mosque - my favourite feature of WISE has always been its encouragement of equality and unity. In recent years there has been a boost in their community activities, including sports, scouts, Qur'an classes, youth work, fundraisers, BBQs... there has always been something for all members of the family to take part in and enjoy. The WISE mosque has certainly played an integral role in my upbringing and I have fond and respectful memories of my time spent there."
"Wise has been a big part of my life. It moulded my childhood and my growth as a person. The Islamic centre has always been the place I’ve gone to for knowledge about my religion, and to worship. It is a masjid that promotes community cohesion and unity. This is visible with the open days they have and their involvement with the locals, for e.g. volunteering at soup kitchens.
This is a Masjid that caters towards both sexes of all ages. Be it events like sleepovers, scouts club to Arabic classes and coffee mornings. I have been on trips with the youth group to theme parks and outdoor activity centres. I’m now a part of the committee of TeenWise, the youth group I attended as a teenager. This centre has given me many opportunities to try my hand in different things.
They have never expressed any extremist views or ideals. In fact they have always opposed extremist views."
"WISE Mosque have provided me with opportunities to develop myself as an aspirational individual within the Muslim community, including steps towards my future career and helpful team-building activities, ultimately forming part of my identity as a member of the local community."
"My children and I have been attending WISE masjid for 3 to 4 years now. I have sat through some of the children's classes, and never heard anyone express extreme views. Infact, the classes teach the children to love, share and live in harmony with one another regardless of faith or colour. I feel my children have benefited from attending classes held at this popular masjid and always come back happy, telling me how much they enjoyed their class. My children are 11, 8 and 6 years old."
"I was born and brought up in High Wycombe having always felt safe against any form of racism or abuse. After the recent arrests in High Wycombe, there has been some negative publicity concerning the WISE masjid. This has been very upsetting as WISE has always taught pure Islam which condemns any form of terrorism.
Whilst growing up I always felt like there was a huge gap in the community for women's services. As soon as Masjid as Salam opened, I found a place where I could meet new people, a place to reflect, worship Allaah, occupy my children with numerous learning opportunities and a place to enjoy myself. I also helped to organise family fun days and ladies quiz nights. I was able to take part in boxercise for women which had proved difficult in any other place in Wycombe due to lack of ladies only exercise classes.
From speaking to many friends, I can honestly say that not a bad word can be said about WISE. All the efforts that the leaders of WISE have put into setting up this successful place for the whole community of any age, gender or race should not be tarnished by misconstrued newspaper accounts."