ONE of the world’s most prominent Muslim leaders came to Blackburn to lead prayers for thousands of worshippers.

Sheikh Dr Abdul Rahman Al Sudais, Imam and speaker of the Grand Mosque in Islam’s holiest city, Mecca, came to Masjid-e-Tauheedul Islam mosque, Bicknell Street, Blackburn.

The streets were cordoned off to allow an overflow of worshippers to pray outside, with temporary prayer mats laid down on the floor.

Sheikh Al Sudais led evening prayers and delivered a speech warning against linking Islam and terrorism, and calling on fellow Muslims to be “the best ambassadors of their country through good contact and character.”

He said Islam was a religion of peace and security.

The sheikh had been accompanies by police escort, diplomats and officials into the mosque on Sunday evening.

The congregation was hosted by Blackburn peer Lord Adam Patel, who spoke of the work of mosques across the country and thanked the sheikh for attending.

Speaking afterwards, he said the visit had to be arranged at short notice through the Saudi embassy.

He said: “I have never seen anything like it in all my time in Blackburn. Bicknell Street was totally blocked and we spread carpet on the street.

“It is a great honour for Blackburn, because Mecca is the holiest place in the world for Muslims.

“He gave us the message that Muslims are not just responsible for other Muslims, they are responsible for all of mankind.”

Sheikh Sudais had promised to return when the rebuilding of the Bicknell Street mosque was complete, Mr Patel said.