Keeping Bees on the roof of the East London Mosque
East London Lines, September 19, 2014
On the roof of the East London Mosque, Khalil and Salma Attan look after about 100,000 honeybees as their fellow Muslims worship in the halls below. Positioned at opposite ends of the hives, the married couple work together seamlessly as they inspect each frame, pausing occasionally to hand each other equipment and ask if the other had spotted the queen.
Before setting each frame back in place, Khalil and Salma gingerly brush a few bees out of the way, ensuring the insects don’t get crushed in the process. Shuddering as he recounted the occasional crunch, Khalil says of his gentle approach: “If you’re going to take care of them, you might as well do the best you can.”…
Bees, as well as honey, have a special significance in Islam. The Qur’an states: “And the Lord taught the bee to build its cells in hills, on trees and in (men’s) habitations; then to eat all the produce (of the earth), and find with skills the spacious paths of its Lord: there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colours, wherein is healing for men…”
Khalil said: “It’s a good thing for people to see, that as Muslims, we’re the same as everyone else. We’re not detached from nature, and we have our interests external from what you might read in the papers sometimes.”