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From Vision to Reality

From Vision to Reality

Issue 6 Jun / Jul 2004

First Published on July/August 2004

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There is a new feeling of strength, of self confidence, in the community around the East London Mosque. Thousands of ordinary Muslims are in awe of what Allah has enabled them to achieve. Their story is one of indomitable community spirit, encompassing all generations; it started with an idea and a hope, transformed into a beautiful vision, then became reality – the newLondon Muslim Centre. Usamah Ward takes us back to the humble beginning with a selection of striking and exclusive images by Rehan Jamil of the long awaited extension project.

The mosque, like many others,has always been a busy, vibrantplace, full to overflowing every Friday. The land next to it formany years was no more than a muddy parking lot. Imagine the shock when,after years of dreaming of expanding, it was discovered that developers planned to build, of all things, luxury housing.Local people were incensed, and immediately began a campaign to acquire the land for community benefit. This culminated in a peaceful march to the council offices; hundreds of people ofall ages demonstrating the depth of feeling to their elected officials. The Council relented, and offered to sell over half the land to the mosque, with the remainder set aside for sheltered housing.

Within months the mosque raised,through the donations of ordinary people,the £600,000 required to complete the purchase. The quick response was a triumph of local commitment, celebrated the following Eid when thousands gathered to perform the prayer outside on the newly-acquired land.

Plans for the land continued to evolve, and a new vision began to take shape. The community needed much more than extra prayer space; there was now no more room in the mosque for the many local projects it was running. The idea of a London Muslim Centre formed, a place where a wide variety of community needs could be catered for.

Prince Charles formally launched the project in November 2001, and one year later building work started. The total cost was set to be over £10 million, but in November 2002 there was little over £1 million in the bank. Thus began a huge fundraising campaign, which went on to achieve unprecedented support from local Muslims, who have so far contributed over half of the money needed.

Such spirit and determination, forged in sincere efforts for the sake of Allah, reflect in the community the greatness of the religion of Islam.


Photography by Rehan Jamil






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