East London Mosque: Wikis


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The East London Mosque and
London Muslim Centre

View of the mosque and centre on Whitechapel Road

Location Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets
London, United Kingdom
Established 1985
Branch/tradition Sunni-Maudoodi[1]
Ownership East London Mosque Trust Ltd.
Leadership Imam(s):
Sheikh Abdul Qayyum
Imam Abul Hussain
Muhammad Abdul Bari
Architectural information
Architect(s) John Gill Associates
Style Modern
Capacity 4500
Dome(s) 1
Minaret(s) 3

Website: eastlondonmosque.org.uk

The East London Mosque is situated in the inner London Borough of Tower Hamlets between Whitechapel and Aldgate, serves the UK's largest Muslim community. It lies near the edge of the City of London, the capital's busy business area, and just a couple of miles from the fast-expanding London Docklands. It is one of the largest mosques in United Kingdom in terms of capacity holding up to 4500 people.[2] Built in 1985, with two large halls, a gallery, classrooms and offices. In 2004 it was expanded by the addition of the adjacent London Muslim Centre which has two multipurpose halls, a seminar suite, a nursery, classrooms, a fitness centre, a small Islamic library, a radio station, retail units and offices.





At the beginning of the twentieth century London had no mosque, though it was the capital of the extensive British Empire containing millions of Muslims. A place was needed for Muslim diplomats and merchants, and for the many Muslim sailors coming into port in Tower Hamlets. On 9 November 1910, at a meeting of Muslim and non-Muslims held at the Ritz Hotel, the London Mosque Fund was established with the aims of organising the weekly Friday prayers and of procuring a permanent place of worship for Muslims.

Over the years many distinguished personalities were associated with the London Mosque Fund. Amongst them was the Rt. Hon. Syed Ameer Ali, the first Indian Privy Counsellor, who was the Chairman of London Mosque Fund Executive Committee until his death in 1928. His Royal Highness the Aga Khan served as life President of the Board of Trustees while both Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, the famous translators of the Qur’an, were trustees of the Fund. Non-Muslims who recognised the need for a Muslim place of worship in London were also part of the Fund. Lord Lamington (d. 1940) became a Vice-Chairman of the London Mosque Fund. Sir Hassan Suhrawardy was also the chairman of the executive committee of the fund.[3] The famous historian, Professor T. W. Arnold, became its Secretary and was later replaced by Sir Ernest Houston. Sir John Woodhead became its Treasurer and the Rt. Hon. Earl Winterton was also a trustee of the Fund.[4][5]


For 30 years various rooms were hired for the Jumu'ah prayers on Fridays. Finally in 1940, three houses were purchased at 446–448 Commercial Road in the east end of London as a permanent place of prayer. On 2 August 1941, the combined houses were inaugurated as the "East London Mosque" and Islamic Culture Centre at a ceremony attended by the then Egyptian Ambassador, Colonel Sir Gordon Neal (representing the Secretary of State for India). The first prayer was led by the Ambassador for Saudi Arabia, Shaikh Hafiz Wahba.[6]

From the late 1950s the local Muslim population began to increase due to immigration from the Indian subcontitnent, particularly from Sylhet in East Pakistan (which became Bangladesh in 1971).[7] During the 1970s, this immigration increased significantly.


In 1975, the local authority bought the properties in Commercial Road under a compulsory purchase order, in return providing a site with temporary buildings on Whitechapel Road, next to the Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue. The local community set about raising funds to erect a purpose-built mosque on the site, and were aided by a contribution from the King of Saudi Arabia. Seven years later, the building of the new mosque commenced with foundations laid down in 1982 and completion achieved in 1985.



=== New Leadership. It was during this period that the new Secretery of the mosque Md Akbor Ali was charged with heading the mosque into its most ambitious period. The new mosque had a capacity of over 2000, with prayer areas for men and women, and classroom space for supplementary education. It was so popular that the mosque within a few years could not accommodate the huge number of people wanting to attend. It had to expand. It was the first mosque in Britain to broadcast the Adhan (call to prayer) from the Minaret using loudspeakers. By the 1990s the capacity was already insufficient not only for the growing congregation but also for the range of projects based there. The land next to the mosque had been left vacant after bomb damage during World War II, and was used only for parking. Md Akbor Ali and the management of the mosque launched a campaign to buy the land. After frequent setbacks and funding and legal problems, Akbor Ali rallied the local community and Mosque for one last push, and succeeded in buying the land in 1999.

2001–2004: London Muslim Centre

London Muslim Centre front entrance
London Muslim centre rear view

There began a new period of fundraising, headed by the then Chairman of the mosque Md Akbor Ali, under his giudence the Mosque and the community raised enough funds to purchace the land next to the mosque. Md Akbor Ali died in April 2000, this was a huge blow for the Mosque and community because of his kindness and approchable manner that the community rallied around him and the mosque. An estimated 2500 people attended his funeral prayers. Now that the land was now in the mosques hands, and to fulfill Ali's dream, the mosque needed to build on it otherwise the land would go back to the council and developers. In 2001 the mosque with the help of the local community started to raise funds again to build the biggest Muslim Centre in western Europe. HRH Prince Charles launched the project to build the London Muslim Centre (LMC).[8] Construction began in 2002, and the new centre opened on 11 June 2004, with over 15,000 people attending the opening prayers.[9][10] The new prayer capacity was now well over 4000, with a greatly increased range of services. The building had cost over £10 million, more than half of which had been raised by ordinary Muslims, which aims to promote inter-faith dialogue and understanding between muslims and non-non muslims.[11]

On the opening day 15,000 people came to see the new building and the facilities it had to offer. There was a fairground for children and many guests had arrived at the opening. Shaykh Abdur-Rahman al-Sudais, Imam of the Ka’aba in Mecca (Islam’s holiest mosque) had also come from Saudi Arabia to open the centre. He told the thousands that had gathered that day that this was a shining example of how the British Muslim community were taking great steps forward to enhance community cohesion. Amongst the guests were Racial Equality Minister Fiona Mactaggart, Trevor Phillips, the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and senior officials from the Muslim Council of Britain. Prince Charles, who was in Washington for the funeral of the former US president Ronald Reagan, sent a video message of support. [11]

LMC is situated on the right-hand side of East London Mosque who were responsible for its construction and development. The building is a six-story building. It has a gym, a library, a créche and classrooms. There are many lessons/ courses that take place within the classrooms. All of them are taught by fully qualified teachers. The building can hold over four thousand worshippers.[11]


The main hall inside of the mosque

In July 2004 the Malaysian prime minister, Dato' Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi, visited the mosque and centre.

In November 2004 HRH Prince Charles returned to see the centre he had launched three years earlier.[12] The following month HM The Queen featured excerpts of his visit in her Christmas Message.[13][14]

In July 2008 the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, delivered a speech on "Equality Before The Law" at an event highlighting the pro bono legal service at the LMC.[15]

In October 2008, The East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre won Islam Channel's Super Model Mosque award presented at the Global Peace and Unity event at the Excel Centre, with a shared prize of £50,000 in consultation work.[16][17]

In September 2009 (22nd Ramadan): The East London Mosque raised over £1 million in one night on Channel S, Sky 814, breaking a record in the category of ‘most money raised by an ethnic television channel in one night’ in the whole of Western Europe and America. The money is to go towards a much needed extension project which will see women’s services being incorporated extensively into the ELM complex. For the East London Mosque it was a momentous display of support, confidence and legitimacy they have enjoyed from the local community, which very few mosques or community centres can muster from its local populace.

Sepetmber 2009 (27th Ramadan): The East London Mosque Raised £770,000.00 from its appeal from its main prayer hall and via the MCR radio station, beating the previous years record of £600,000.00


ELM Logo.png

The East London Mosque Trust Limited is a registered charity[18] (previously registered as The London Mosque Fund)[19] and a private company (limited by guarantee, no share capital).[20]

The mosque is managed by trustees who are elected each year by its members at the Annual General Meeting. Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari is the chairman of the Management Committee for 2008–09. He was elected after the death of Md Akbor Ali[21]

The Khatib and primary Imam of the mosque is Abdul Qayum. The Executive Director is Dilowar Hussain Khan.

External relations

The mosque is a member of the Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum,[22] a founding member of The East London Communities Organisation (TELCO),[23] and also an affiliate of the Muslim Council of Britain.[24]

The East London Mosque interprets the Deobandi traditions through the movement known as the Muslim Brotherhood, influenced by the teachings of Sayyid Qutb and Maududi.[25]


Dome of the mosque viewed from the rear
The interior of the dome in the mosque

The mosque has a stated mission to:

… provide a range of holistic, culturally sensitive services for the communities of London with a view to improving the quality of life and enhancing community cohesion

—Annual Report 2005-06, East London Mosque Trust Ltd[26]

As the community base changes so does the services offered, previously sermons or announcements were given in Bengali or Sylheti only. Today the sermon is delivered in Arabic, Bengali and English, to meet the needs of the diverse communities living in the United Kingdom.

To further its mission a number of services are provided to the community including:[27]

  • ICT Training and English classes
  • ISAP — Improving School Attendance in Partnership, a scheme in partnership with the local authority, to raise attendance and attainment in school
  • Junior Muslim Circle (JMC) — Recreational activities for children
  • New Muslims' classes — Islamic teaching for new converts to Islam
  • ELM Evening Madrasah — after school education for children
  • ELM Women's Link — support services for women
  • Faith in Health — health awareness and lifestyle facilities
  • Way to Work — a project assisting people to enter training and employment

The mosque also runs Muslim Community Radio (MCR), in partnership with Islamic Forum Europe, which started to broadcast since 1998 through a RSL, then through Spectrum, and since 2001 acquired the rights to broadcast 24 hours across east London during the month of Ramadan. In 2005 it moved into a new studio in the London Muslim Centre. It is run by volunteers at the mosque, it provides programs for women, children's shows, quiz shows, fiqh sessions, taraweeh prayer, and shows such as Daily Halaqa, Qur'anic class, Easy Talk, Drive Time and many more, all in English and Bengali.[28][29][30]

See also


  1. ^ MuslimsinBritain.org. Retrieved on 2010-02-17.
  2. ^ Mehmood Naqshbandi (2008) [muslimsinbritain.org UK Mosque/Masjid Directory] Muslims in Britain. Retrieved on 2009-05-01.
  3. ^ The Times 2 August 1941
  4. ^ History of East London Mosque East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre
  5. ^ Visit the City – East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre City of London
  6. ^ FAQs about the mosque and centre. East London Mosque. Retrieve on 2007-09-12.
  7. ^ Kershen, Anne J. (2005), Strangers, Aliens and Asians: Huguenots, Jews and Bangladeshis in Spitalfields 1660–2000, ISBN 0714655253 
  8. ^ Prince joins Ramadan ceremony BBC website
  9. ^ Crowds flock to new Muslim centre BBC website
  10. ^ New Muslim centre opens its doors BBC website
  11. ^ a b c Annual Report 2005-06. East London Mosque Trust Ltd. Retrieved on 2007-09-13
  12. ^ Royal seal of approval for centre BBC website
  13. ^ Queen calls for tolerance in UK BBC website
  14. ^ Video of Queen's Christmas message 2004 requires Real Player
  15. ^ Equality Before the Law
  16. ^ Model Mosque Competition Global Peace and Unity
  17. ^ Britain's Muslims Vote their Best Mosques IslamOnline (5 Nov. 2008), by Emdad Rahman.
  18. ^ The East London Mosque Trust Limited Charity Commission
  19. ^ The London Mosque Fund Charity Commission
  20. ^ The East London Mosque Trust Limited Companies House
  21. ^ Media 'contributing to rise of Islamophobia' Telegraph. Date: 10 Sep 2006. By David Harrison.
  22. ^ Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum
  23. ^ TELCO
  24. ^ Muslim Council of Britain
  25. ^ Rima Berns McGown. (1999), Muslims in the Diaspora: The Somali Communities of London and Toronto. Page. 38. ISBN 9780802082817
  26. ^ Annual Report 2005-06. East London Mosque Trust Ltd. Retrieved on 2007-09-13
  27. ^ ELM News. East London Mosque. September 2007.
  28. ^ MCR Radio
  29. ^ Islamic Forum of Europe
  30. ^ MCR Programs

External links


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