27 March 2024

The East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre hosted its annual Iftar Reception yesterday, bringing together a diverse group of distinguished guests, ambassadors, dignitaries, community members and faith leaders. The event, themed “British Muslim Community: Faith in Action”, also marked the 20th anniversary of the London Muslim Centre and showcased the mosque’s rich history and its ongoing commitment to serving the local community and fostering dialogue.

Image (L-R): His Excellency Osman Koray Ertaş, Ambassador of Türkiye, and Junaid Ahmed, CEO of East London Mosque, speaking with Sir Malcolm Grant

In his opening remarks, Junaid Ahmed, CEO of the East London Mosque, welcomed the attendees and expressed his gratitude for their presence and support. He extended a special thanks to His Excellency Osman Koray Ertas, Ambassador of Turkiye, and His Excellency Dato Zakri Jaafar, High Commissioner of Malaysia.

The annual Iftar Reception was graced by the presence of distinguished guests from eight Muslim embassies, including: H.E. Osman Topcagic, the Ambassador of Bosnia-Herzegovina; H.E. Mohamed Salah Hassan, Charge d’ Affaires of the Sudanese Embassy; and officials from the embassies of Algeria, Somalia, Pakistan, and Somaliland.

The event also brought together scholars, representatives from the police force, fire brigade, and faith leaders from different communities, highlighting the mosque's commitment to fostering interfaith dialogue and community cohesion.

“Our faith is not merely a set of beliefs, but a way of life that compels us to serve our community and make a positive difference to our country and our world,” said Ahmed, addressing dignitaries and guests. “Through our various initiatives such as interfaith dialogue, voicing a strong assertion for peace and justice beyond the borders of our little island, support for refugees, food banks, and educational programmes, we demonstrate how our faith translates into concrete actions that benefit society as a whole.”

The event featured an exhibition showcasing the mosque’s 114-year history, tracing its remarkable journey from humble beginnings to a multi-million-pound complex that now hosts over 30 projects and services for the community while providing prayer space for over 7,000 worshippers.

Dr Abdul-Hayee Murshad, Chairman of the East London Mosque Trust, emphasised the significance of the mosque’s role in the community, stating, “The London Muslim Centre has been an integral part of our journey for the last two decades. This iconic building has become a symbol of Islamic heritage, a hub of coexistence, dialogue, and community service in the heart of London.”

His Excellency Osman Koray Ertas, Ambassador of Türkiye, praised the East London Mosque for its unique position in the community: “this place is special because it’s a truly [a] community space.&rdquo

Image: His Excellency Osman Koray Ertaş, Ambassador of Türkiye

His Excellency Dato Zakri Jaafar, High Commissioner of Malaysia, echoed these sentiments, acknowledging the mosque’s long-standing relationship with Malaysia and its role in hosting Malaysian leaders, including former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmed Badawi and current Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Zara Mohammed, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain, reflected on the challenges faced by British Muslim communities in recent times. She highlighted the role of the East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre in weaving together the “tapestry of goodness” that strengthens the resolve for future generations. She emphasised that the mosque’s work, along with the efforts of all those present at the Iftar, contributes to “making Britain great”.

Image: Zara Mohammed, Secretary General of the MCB, speaks to guests

She expressed her hope for a brighter future for Muslims in the UK, where the focus shifts from defending the community to celebrating its achievements and contributions.

Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, praised the East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre as an invaluable partner of the local council.

“You were instrumental in helping us to drive up our attainment, attendance in our schools, I remember many years ago,” said Rahman referring to an initiative by ELM to boost attendance in Tower Hamlet schools. “You helped us in the field of community safety,” he continued, highlighting the partnership between the mosque and the borough in reducing waste and increase recycling.

Image: Mosque’s Trustees, CEO and key guests

During the evening, the true spirit of Ramadan was brought to life through a beautiful recitation of the Qur’an by Shaykh Mu’taz al-Ghannam, one of the guest reciters leading the Taraweeh prayers at the mosque. The LMC’s annual Iftar served as a powerful reminder of the institution’s enduring commitment to faith, community service, and interfaith dialogue.

Image: Shaykh Mu‘taz Al Ghannam, Qari