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A Visit Report to the London Central Mosque Trust and Islamic Cultural Centre

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The purpose of this report is to illustrate the analysis during the visit of the London Central Mosque. The report will include an overview of the mosque's history and how it came about and its socio-religious context that situated in. The observation on how Islamic beliefs and practises are reflected in the act of the attendance will be explained. The social, cultural and educational role that the mosques perform will be discussed. Finally, the report will also provide a discussion the way in which, the mosque as an institution differs from a church in order to form a conclusion.

The word 'mosque' is derived from the Arabic word 'masjid', which means the place of prostration. This is the position in Islamic ritual prayers, 'Salah' that involves with standing, bowing, or facing in a set of direction known as the 'qibla' in Makka (Armstrong, 2000, p15). According to Islamic beliefs, the first mosque in the world was built by Abraham and his son Ismail upon an order from God called the 'Ka'aba' (Esposito, 1988, p92). Traditionally, the mosque symbolizes Islamic monotheism and centre of purity for the Muslim community (Ripping, 1990, p92). However aside from being a place of worship it functions as a hub for the community, organising social and welfare activities regardless of their race, colour, social, and economic status.

History of the London Central Mosque & Islamic Cultural Central

The history of London Central Mosque begins in colonial times when the British Empire consisted of vast numbers of Muslim citizens. There was a great demand in that particular time for Muslims to have a mosque as a place of prayer, a centre of political and social activities and also as an educational institution for communal life.

The British Secretary of the state for the Colonies Lord Lloyd of Doloban (1879-1941) worked with prominent Muslims such as Lord Headley and ambassadors of the newly formed Muslim nations to recommended to the Prime Minister that London should have a mosque. He wrote a memo stating:

'Only London contains more Muslims than any other European capital, but in our Empire which actually contains more Muslims than Christians it was anomalous and inappropriate that there should be no central place of worship for Muslims'.

In 1940, then Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his War Cabinet authorised the acquisition of the 2.3 acre site adjacent to Regent's park for a mosque. In 1944 the newly formed Mosque committee had two defined objectives, the building of the mosque and building of a cultural centre for the community. Despite the Islamic Cultural Centre being officially opened in 1944 by King George VI, it would be many years before the mosque was completed. However, the project was revived in 1969 and tenders were put out for the design, in 1973 after an international competition a design by Sir Frederick Gibberd was selected and finally construction of the Mosque begun in 1974. The mosque was completed in July 1977, at a total cost of £6.5 million.

It was designed to accommodate about 4.500 people in the main prayer chamber with a balcony area for women. The number of attendance can be up to 10.000 people per week, going up to 50.000 people during the Eid festivals. In addition, there are many activities conducted within the mosque such as, Academic lectures for all on Sunday's, Arabic language lessons for different levels during the weekend and many others depends on what is available (see appendix).

Today, Islam is the second largest religion in the UK and the growing number of Muslims has resulted in the establishment of more mosques. Thus, the modern Muslim Londoner has many other choices, so the need to congregate at Regent's Park seems to some extent has been reduced. However, London central mosque's distinguished history means it will always remain a focal point in London.

Ethical Considerations:

Prior to entering the mosque buildings, there are certain ethics which need to be followed. Firstly, one must be dressed appropriately, for women this means only hands, face and feet are showing also have a head scarf. Men also need to dress moderately. As Muslims prostrate directly onto the floor, shoes and footwear must be removed before entering the prayer hall. Muslims should perform ablution (washing of hands, face, arms, and feet) before performing prayer. Noise level should be kept low in order to prevent any distractions. Visitors are welcome to the mosque; however, they should contact the administration for information beforehand. Men and women do not usually mix in the prayer chamber.



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