News & Islam News Press Release: ELMT launches centenary year at the House of Lords The East London Mosque Trust celebrated the launch of its centenary year last night (25 Nov 2010), at the House of Lords hosted by the Lord Sheikh of Cornhill. Invited guests included members of parliament, diplomats of various Muslim embassies based in London, heads of leading Muslim institutions and leaders from civic society bodies. A student of Al-Mizan primary school based at the Mosque opened the evening’s programme with a recitation from the Holy Qur’an. The Lord Sheikh said in his opening statement: “The East London Mosque and [the London Muslim] centre has had a glorious past and it's a privilege to host this centenary event in this great venue. The mosque leaders are not resting on their laurels, and they continue to go forward in strength to strength. “In 2001, His Royal Highness Prince Charles and His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed al-Faisal launched the project to build the current London Muslim Centre, which was completed in 2004. The presence of these two high profile figures, at the launch of the London Muslim Centre, shows the high regard by royalty as well as the wider community. “25,000 people come to the mosque every week, which increased to 47,000 during the month of Ramadan. 25,000 people and they are not all Muslims, they are non-Muslims as well – a big number! It goes to show how popular the centre and the mosque is and the valuable function which it fulfils. Amongst other services the centre provides Muslims and non-Muslims the opportunity to learn through dialogue, discussion and interaction. It is very, very important that we give the true message of Islam. Sometimes our religion is not understood; it is our duty and responsibility to convey the true message of Islam and in that respect the centre and mosque is fulfilling a valuable function.” Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow speaking at the event said: “My father who came to the UK in the 1960’s and those of us who have moved to the East End long before, all of us have had a place in the mosque, with support and encouragement from the mosque.” She went on to say: “We as a community have come of age, both in terms of what we do at the grassroots level, but also in national public life. And that’s represented in terms of parliamentarians in the House of Lords, as well as in the House of Commons. There are many more Muslims in British politics and public life increasingly. I think it’s really important for us to have a voice across the board, to highlight the concerns and issues that face the British Muslim community, but also in terms of the contributions we make as British citizens.” Chairman of Pro Bono in the London Muslim Centre, Robin Knowles CBE QC said: “It’s that recognition of the importance of a community that represents Muslims and non-Muslims alike, that lies behind the Pro Bono initiative mentioned. It stands for everything that the mosque stands for, for service, for volunteering, for willingness on the part of those that have strength and time to give, to those in a weak and difficult moment or in a moment for a lack of understanding. To do that for men and women alike, to do that for whoever in the community may need so, it is just an example of a range of projects that have been mentioned this evening.” A number of other speakers spoke of their experience and volunteering for the mosque and the centre. Dr Abdul Bari, Chairman of the East London Mosque Trust, closed the evening’s speeches by saying: “Serving a mosque is a privilege for any Muslim and part of our religious teachings. Mosques are not the individual property of anyone person and we are just caretakers of the House of God. The vision of our predecessors was to create an institution that bound the communities together with a common goal. They have done remarkably well, and we see the testament to that by celebrating 100 years of what they seeded. Our job is to take this forward, for our future generations.” [ENDS] Notes to editors: The East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre is celebrating its centenary this year and next, with many special events planned around the occasion. Lord Sheikh of Cornhill is a Conservative Peer, businessman, academic and philanthropist. More about Lord Sheikh can be found on his website: http://lordsheikh.com Rushanara Ali is a member of parliament for the Bethnal Green and Bow constituency. More about Rushanara can be found on her website: http://www.rushanaraali.org Robin Knowles CBE QC is Chairman of Pro Bono in the London Muslim Centre. The service provides free legal advice and consultation for the community. Further information about Robin Knowles CBE QC can be found at: http://www.southsquare.com/2010/06/robin-knowles-cbe-qc/ Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari is the Chairman of the East London Mosque Trust. He is the former secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. Further information about Dr Bari can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Abdul_Bari A special centenary brochure was presented to guests at the House of Lords, charting some of the 100 year history of the East London Mosque Trust. The brochure can be downloaded here.