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College is first stop for pilgrims on the road to Mecca

STUDENTS at Keighley College, west Yorkshire, will be taught how to prepare for a pilgrimage to Mecca at the country's first course designed to explain the rites and rituals involved during the pilgrimage, or hadj.

The new six-week course, run in conjunction with the town's Asian drop-in venue, the Sangat Community Centre, will use qualified Islamic tutors to explain what will happen when they arrive at the holy city in Saudi Arabia.

Around 40 students are expected to enrol. Men and women will be taught separately in weekly free sessions by trilngual tutors of the same gender, in Urdu, Punjabi and English.

Sangat manager Khadim Hussain said: "There are cultural and religious reasons for the separation and some women prefer lessons without men because there are issues specific to women when they are performing the hadj. For example, women cannot enter the mosque when they are menstruating."

The course, which is open to both Muslims and non-Muslims, funded by Bradford education authority. There is no final exam and students will be awarded a college certificate on completion.

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