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1. How was the East London Mosque Established?
• 1910 - Notable figures, both Muslim and non-Muslim, decide London needs a mosque, so they establish the London Mosque Fund. Initially, a small room is hired for Friday prayers.
• 1926 - The Fund has grown to a sizable amount, so a Deed of Declaration of Trust is made.
• 1940 - Three houses are purchased in Commercial Road, London E1, as permanent place of prayer.
• 1941 - Official inauguration of the East London Mosque in the houses on Commercial Road. They become the focal point for the religious needs of a small but growing Muslim Community. As migrant workers help to rebuild Britain in the post-war years, the function of the mosque evolves to meet the socio-economic needs of local people.
• 1975 - The Greater London Council (GLC) buys the house in Commercial Road under a compulsory purchase order, and provides temporary buildings on a new site on Whitechapel Road. The Muslim community sets about raising enough money to erect a purpose-built mosque on this site. Local people save tirelessly from their limited earnings, and are boosted by a donation from the King of Saudi Arabia.
• 1982 - Laying of foundations for the new mosque.
• 1985 - The new mosque opens. The large, purpose-built mosque, complete with dome and minarets, soon becomes a landmark in London's East End. At first it seems generously spacious, but before long it begins to overflow on Fridays and during Ramadan and Eid. Moreover, there is hardly room for the growing number of projects based at the mosque.
• 1999 - The East London Mosque, with huge local support, succeeds in its campaign to acquire adjoining land for development.
• 2001 - HRH Prince Charles and HR Prince Mohamed Al-Faisal launch the project to develop the London Muslim Centre.
• 2002 - Work begins on the new development.
• 2004 - The new London Muslim Centre opens, adding over 8300m2 of usable space to the adjacent mosque. HRH Prince Charles returns to see the already thriving development.
2. Who established the organisation?
Visiting sailors and dock workers in the Docklands were largely from territories of the British Empire, and academics were already settling in and around the East End. Prominent individuals such as His Highness Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah (grandfather of the Aga Khan), Sir Syed Amir Ali, Member of the Secretary of State for India Council in London, were associated with the London Mosque Fund. Notable non-Muslims such as the Rt. Hon. Charles Wallace Baron Lamington, the Rt. Hon Arthur Oliver Baron Amptill, and the famous Historian T.W. Arnold not only supported but even joined the London Mosque Fund.
Further contributors to the development and management of the East London Mosque included: the famous translators of the Holy Qur'an, Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Marmaduke Pickhall; Mr. Imdad Ali Kazi, Bar at Law and Vice Chancellor of Sindh University Pakistan; and Mr Mohammad Ali Jinnah
3. Who funds the ELM-LMC?
The London Muslim Centre cost £10.5m to build. Over 50% of the building costs for the London Muslim Centre were raised through donations from local worshippers and from around the UK. 23% was derived from public and charitable sources; 10% from international sources including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Islamic Development Bank; and the balance from the sale of trust assets. The maintenance of the buildings and religious or social services are funded through rental income and donations from the public. We select projects by looking at priorities and needs set by local authorities, charitable grant-giving bodies and the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) objectives of the private sector.
As examples: the training and employment initiative, Way to Work, is funded through the London Development Agency; our Improving School Attainment in Partnership (ISAP) project is funded through the London Borough of Tower Hamlets Education; and our women's support project, Women's Link, is funded through the HSBC.
The financial statements of the organisation are available in our Annual Reports, and are publicly available from Charity Commission and Companies House.
4. What activities do you provide and who do they target?
Our mission is to provide a range of holistic, culturally sensitive services for the communities of London with a view to improving quality of life and enhancing community cohesion.
The organisation has five work areas: (1) Religious and Spiritual, which is primarily offered in the East London Mosque; (2) Training and Education; (3) Social Welfare; (4) Community Cohesion; and (5) Economic Development. The latter four are based mainly in the London Muslim Centre.
Services are open to all sections of the community, Muslim and non-Muslim, male and female, young and old, able and disabled. Approximately 30 different services are currently offered to meet the needs of the local community. Some innovative programmes such as ISAP have won helped Tower Hamlets win beacon status. Open days and symposiums on religious tolerance have contributed to improved community cohesion. Social welfare initiatives have attempted to tackle issues of drugs, forced marriage, child protection, domestic violence, health, to name just a few.
5. Does ELM-LMC engage in politics?
As an independent organisation, ELM-LMC is not aligned to any party nor does it advocate for any political party. We encourage citizens to exercise their democratic right to vote in local and national elections.
We have hosted visits from representatives of all the major political parties, including:
- Mike O'Brien MP (Labour)
- Dominic Grieves MP (Conservative)
- Fiona McTaggart MP (Labour)
- Hazel Blears MP (Labour)
- Oona King (former MP) (Labour)
- Stephen Timms MP (Labour)
- Simon Hughes MP (Liberal Democrats)
- Jim Fitzpatrick MP (Labour)
- George Galloway MP (Respect)
We will continue to engage with representatives of all mainstream political parties so we can work towards achieving the common good.
6. Why did the LMC host the victory celebrations of George Galloway MP?
The LMC did not host the victory celebrations for George Galloway MP. We declined a request to hold post-election celebrations in the LMC, as we have a policy of not allowing hire or use for such political activities. The celebration was held in Mile End Park.
We hired our facility to an existing user group for a reception with the new MP, a practice that was done with the previous MPs, Mayors and Councillors, etc. every year.
7. Did your Imam sign the Istanbul Declaration?
Our main Imam confirmed he did not sign the declaration, nor did any other representative of the mosque. He also confirmed he opposes any possible attacks on the Royal Navy or, indeed, other British forces, especially if they are carrying out peacekeeping duties. He also confirmed he opposes any apparent threat of terrorist action; indeed, he is on record as opposing all forms of terrorism.
8. How do you encourage integration, particularly with vulnerable young people?
It is important for religious centres to be relevant to and cater for young people. This means taking account of their needs, listening to their views, and providing direction and support to help them become responsible citizens and worthy human beings.
The ELM encourages young people to use its facilities and take part in voluntary work. It provides correct and balanced information about Islam and encourages positive and constructive engagement in wider society. It delivers a clear and unambiguous message about using only peaceful means to bring about change in society. It is pleasing to note that those young people who retained a close link in the mosque have developed into good members of the community.
The development of the LMC means we are now able to offer practical steps towards career progression, going back to study, joining training and apprenticeship schemes, linking young people to mentors, or simply helping them to find a job.
9. What facilities does the ELM-LMC have for women?
Every service is developed with the view that men and women will be able to access it. The ELMLMC has one of the largest prayer spaces for women, it has a dedicated women's project that works with isolated women addressing issues of counselling, domestic violence, mental health, etc.
We target training and employment programmes that encourage women to develop skills and choose suitable careers, and to be assertive and more confident in participating in daily activities. We are constantly looking for ways to enhance and expand these facilities and services.