The Great Mosques of London
London is home to the second largest community of Muslims in the European continent. Muslims comprise over 12% of the entire population of London and Islam is the second most-practiced religion in the city, behind Christianity.
The history of Islam in London can be traced back to the early 19th century when Bengali and Yemeni sailors settled in the city. At present, the Muslim population in London is a diverse community comprising residents of various backgrounds including Turkish, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Somali, Iraqi, Nigerian, Indian, Afghan and Ghanaian origins.
Needless to say, a large number of mosques are available in London, to cater to the town’s huge Muslim community. The city is home to over 400 mosques, with the most prominent mosques being the Abbey Mills Mosque, Aziziye Mosque, Fazl Mosque, Baitul Futuh, Brick Lane Mosque, East London Mosque, London Central Mosque, North London Central Mosque and the Suleymaniye Mosque.
The Abbey Mills Mosque was established in 1910 and is located in Stratford, east London. It is capable of accommodating up to 2,500 people and plans are being made to further expand the mosque and to make it one of the most prominent mosques in the United Kingdom.
The Aziziye Mosque is located in Stoke Newington of London and serves a large British Turkish community. The mosque features Ottoman style architecture and is capable of accommodating around 2,000 people during prayer times. It also features a Halal butcher, education centre, wedding hall as well as a restaurant.
Also known as the London Mosque, the Fazl Mosque was established in 1926 and was Britain’s first Ahmadiyya mosque. It used to be the main venue that would be visited for Friday Sermons, until the Baitul Futuh mosque was completed later in 2003. The Fazl Mosque is well-known for its historic significance and unique role in Britain’s Muslim community.
The Baitul Futuh Mosque is the largest mosque complex in Western Europe and covers an area of 5.2 acres. The mosque is located in the suburb of Morden – a short distance away from the Morden Underground station and is capable of taking in up to 10,000 worshippers. It features one dome and two minarets and its facilities include prayer halls for bothmen and women, a library, exhibition halls, MTA Television Studios, kitchens, a gymnasium, guest rooms and wash-room facilities.
The building of the Brick Lane Mosque was first established in 1743 but was later converted into a mosque in 1976. It presently one of the oldest buildings in East London and is located in the area of Spitalfields. Featuring Georgian architecture, the mosque can hold up to 3000 people during prayer times and serves a large community of Bangladeshi Muslims in London.
The East London Mosque serves the largest Muslim community in the United Kingdom, with weekly attendance for prayers exceeding 35,000 worshippers. It is located at the edge of London city, a short distance away from London Docklands.
London Central Mosque is also known as the Islamic Cultural Centre, ICC or Regent’s Park Mosque and is well noted for its massive golden dome. The mosque can hold over 5,000 people during prayer times, with women praying on a separate balcony area above the hall.
Located in Finsbury Park of London, the North London Central Mosque was opened in 1994, with Prince Charles attending the opening ceremony. It currently offers courses to the public and accommodates public visits.
The Suleymaniye Mosque on Kingsland Road in London, mainly serves the British Turkish community living in the city. The mosque stretches across an area of over 8,000 square metres and is capable of accommodating up to 3,000 people during prayer times. The mosque features Ottoman-style architecture and offers a wedding hall, funeral service facilities as well as a canteen which is popular around the area.
London is home to over 400 other mosques, located throughout the city. Muslim travellers to London will discover that finding access to prayer facilities will pose no problem at all.