These are the answers to the questions in the ELM Archives quiz for Ramadan.


1 (c) The lascars were merchant seamen who served on British ships and were often giving dangerous jobs such as working on the tall rigs during the days of the sailing ships or in the coal rooms in the steam ships. The Muslim lascars started settling near the London docks in the Eighteenth Century, which was the beginning of a Muslim presence in the East End of London. The Archives Collection has the travel document and discharge paper of a lascar from the 1900s, thanks to a deposit by a well-wisher.

2 (d) The Ottomans were a great Muslim dynasty from the Fourteenth Century that established Constantinople (modern Istanbul) as its capital in 1453, when Mehmed II defeated the Byzantiums. The first Ottoman ambassador to London, Yusuf Aga Effendi, arrived in 1793. At the start of the Twentieth Century, the Ottoman diplomat Halil Halid Bey helped the London Mosque Fund, the founding body of the East London Mosque established in 1910.

Halil Halid Bey Original ELM minutes book

3 (c)  Abdullah al-Mamun Suhrawardy  was the son of Ubaidullah Suhrawardy of Dhaka Madrasa. Al-Mamun came to London for legal studies around 1903 and was active in da‘wah work  and as head of the Pan-Islamic Society of London. Later he was a prominent Muslim leader in Calcutta. His brother Sir Hassan Suhrawardy was a chair of the London Mosque Fund and responsible for the purchase of the first premises of the East London Mosque on Commercial Road in 1940. His nephew Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy was Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1957.

4 (c) A statement of Syed Ameer Ali, the first Muslim Privy Councillor and retired Justice of the the Bengal High Court, who settled in England after retirement in 1903. He was the first chairman of the Executive Committee of the London Mosque Fund. His contribution is remembered in a plaque unveiled when the East London Mosque premises on Commercial Road were formally opened in 1941. This plaque is now in safe keeping in our Archives Collection.

Commemorative plaque
Syed Ameer Ali

5(a) Destitute. The Indigent Moslem (that is how it was spelt in the past) Burial Fund was established in 1927 to pay for, and organise, an Islamic burial for Muslims without means. The Minutes Book of the IMBF is preserved in the Archives, together with other related documents.

6(d).  In 1975 and subsequent  years till the opening of the main mosque on Whitechapel Road, the East London Mosque’s premises were portakabins off Fieldgate Street. These were obtained from the Islamic Cultural Centre, Regents Park – no longer needed when the new mosque there was completed. Photographs of this period are in the Archives.

7(b) The East London Mosque has beehives on its roof.  The ‘Queen Excluder’ is a special grid used by the beekeeper to keep the queen out of the upper layers of the hive (see this Bee Blog post for more details).  The honey produced at the Mosque is often given to special guests as a souvenir. The Qur’an refers to both bees and their honey: “And the Lord taught the bee to build its cells in hills, on trees and in (men’s) habitations; then to eat all the produce (of the earth), and find with skills the spacious paths of its Lord: there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colours, wherein is healing for men…”.  In time, the Mosque’s experiences with bees will be stored in the Archive, through oral history recordings of those involved.

8 (c) The mosque was officially opened on 12 July 1985 with Shaikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Subail, Imam of Masjidul Haram, Makkah, saying the first prayer. The Archives has the signed visitors’ book as well as the architectural and building plans for the construction of this first phase of the East London Mosque – London Muslim Centre community hub.

9 (a) Sulaiman Mohammed Jetha came to London in 1933 at the age of 27, setting up a business to import spices from India and supply them to businesses in Aldgate East, London. In 1948 the London Mosque Fund became the East London Mosque Trust and its Secretary, Sir John Woodhead, subsequently invited Sulaiman Jetha to enrol as a member. From 1950 onwards Jetha was actively involved in the ELMT, appointed its treasurer in 1951, then Honorary Secretary and then Chair. As an office bearer, Sulaiman Jetha continued Sir John Woodhead’s tradition of meticulous record keeping, and the efforts of both men are largely responsible for the fine ELM archives today. He retired as chair of the East London Mosque Trust in 1990.

Sulaiman Jetha

10 (b) In the early 1930s Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall was in correspondence with Shaikh Abdeali Mohamedali Anik, Treasurer of the East London Mosque Trust, to seek a donation from the Nizam of Hyderabad. Pickthall’s letters are preserved in the Archives.


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