The London Central Mosque and the Islamic
Cultural Centre is Given Grade II Listed Status
Dr. Mozammel Haque
His Excellency the Minister of Art and Heritage, Government of the United Kingdom, Mr. Michael Ellis came to the London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre, Regent’s Park, London, on 13th of March 2018. With him also came Chief Executive of the Heritage England, Mr. Duncan Wilson, to announce that the London Central Mosque and The Islamic Cultural Centre in Regent’s Park has been given the Grade II listed status.
The London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre is given protected heritage status to recognise their historic, architectural and cultural importance. Heritage Minister Michael Ellis said listing the mosques preserved important places of worship and celebrated the rich heritage of Muslim communities in England. Mr. Ellis said: ‘Our historic buildings tell the story of Britain’s past and the people, places and events that shaped them. ‘By listing these beautiful mosques, we are not only preserving important places of worship, but also celebrating the rich heritage of Muslim communities in England,’ he said.
Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive, said the mosques were ‘exceptional places of worship’. ‘Through listing we are celebrating some of our most significant examples of Islamic heritage from the stunning Shah Jahan in Woking, the first purpose-built mosque in the country, to the landmark London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park.’
While reporting on the listing of the London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre, The Guardian said on 13th of March, 2018, “A landmark London mosque has been given Grade II* listed status in recognition of its historic, cultural and architectural importance.”
London Central Mosque and the Islamic
Cultural Centre in Regent’s Park
The London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre in Regent’s Park which is newly listed as Grade II status, was built as a centre point for Muslim worship in the capital. It was built in the 1970s. The first fund for the new mosque was set up in 1910 and the Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s government offered the location in the 1940s in recognition of the importance of Islam in an increasingly multicultural society.
“The land of this mosque was donated from the government of the UK and also the Prime Minister at that time 1940 Winston Churchill himself signed the document for granting the land. His Majesty King George VI came on 1944 to open the location for the London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre which is we are so proud of,” said Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan, Director General of the London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre in an interview with me.
He also mentioned, “It means recognition of Islamic heritage as part of National British heritage in this country. It means also recognition of the efforts and contributions of the Muslim community in the UK.”
A design of the London Central Mosque by the British architect Sir Frederick Gibberd was chosen in an international competition. “His (Sir Gibberd) elegant scheme combined architectural traditions of British modernism with historic Islamic forms,” according to Historic England, which recommended the mosque for listing by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The mosque, which took two years to build at a cost of £6 million, completed in 1978.
The main prayer hall of the London Central Mosque was built in the 1970s and can hold several thousand worshippers in its grand prayer hall. “Its golden dome and 44-metre minaret make it a London landmark,” according to The Guardian.
The newly listed buildings include the London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre in Regent’s Park, which was built in the 1970s by British architect Sir Frederick Gibberd on land offered by the government of UK led by Winston Churchill in the 1940s in recognition of the importance of Islam in an increasingly multi-cultural society and in the then-Empire.
The DCMS has also upgraded the listing of two other mosques. The Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking, Surrey, England’s earliest purpose-built Muslim place of Worship, has become the only Grade I listed mosque in the UK, upgraded from its previous Grade II listing.
There are estimated to be almost 2, 000 mosques and Islamic prayer rooms in the UK, serving 4.1 million Muslims, or 6.3% of the UK population.
An interview with Dr. Ahmad Al-Dubayan
Director General London Central Mosque and ICC
In an interview with me yesterday, the 14th of March, 2018, Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan, Director General of the London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Central Centre said, “Yesterday on the 13th of March 2018, we have received in the Islamic Cultural Centre here His Excellency the Minister of Art and Heritage, Mr Michael Ellis and also members of the Historic England. They came with the media in the Islamic Cultural Centre to announce that we have taken the London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre as part of the National Heritage in the UK which means the building is actually listed in Park Road, in Regents Park.”
He also said, “I believe this is, may be, the third mosque listed in the UK the second or the third for many reasons, first of all, this London Central Mosque represents actually the heritage of the British Muslim community.”
Speaking about the background of the construction of the Mosque, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned, “The land of this Mosque was donated from the Government of the UK and also the Prime Minister at that time 1940 Winston Churchill himself signed the document for granting the land. His Majesty King George VI came on 1944 to open the location for the London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre which is we are so proud of.”
“It means recognition of Islamic heritage as part of national British heritage in this country. It means also recognition of the efforts and contributions of the Muslim community in the UK. We are so thankful for this to his Excellency the Minister and to the historic England,” he said.
Dr. Al-Dubayan also mentioned, “The building was listed because it shows a kind of architecture which is important modern architecture where the architect Sir Frederick Gibberd who really designed the building that was in the late 60’s as a modern piece of architecture concentrated on space and light and you see the mosque with almost whole wall of glass and the other side is glass to give more space and try to come closer to this spirituality in the mosque by open airs and by open spaces inside the mosque itself and that’s why it kept because it is unique in architecture and it is one of the good examples of the modernity: the modern architecture in the UK.”
Talking about the Muslim community in the UK, The ICC chief also said, “Muslims, of course, came to the UK long time ago and the London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre is one of the biggest organisations actually happened as a result of their efforts.”
In this connection, Dr. al-Dubayan also mentioned the role of the Muslim Ambassadors in the UK. He said, “There are Muslim ambassadors who are directors and trustees now. The head and chairman of the Board of Trustees of the London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre Trusts, now is Mr Khaled Al-Duwaisan and Ambassador of Kuwait and the deputy chairman is Mr Abdul Aziz Abdullah Zahir al-Hinai; he is the Ambassador of Oman and the treasurer is His Royal Highness Prince Muhammad bin Nawaf, the Saudi Ambassador in the UK. We have also the board of Muslim ambassadors, of course, on one side and on the other side the British government and the Muslim community. Now we have result: is this unique work which is supported by the government here.”
“It is now for more than 70 years giving Muslim community and the whole society at large a lot of services, their education, social services and teaching Islam, presenting good image about faith; trying to attracting young people; trying to make empowerment for women in the centre,” he mentioned.
Dr. Al-Dubayan also said, “It is a place; it’s a hub really and vocal point where people come and the unique thing also from the London Central Mosque that is, it is really for all communities; it is not classified as a mosque for ethnical group or country; it is for all people and everybody is welcome. Many non-Muslims, also many friends, who are not Muslims, they come sometimes to the Centre to participate on different occasions and to different activities of its different programmes.”
Speaking about what the Minister said, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned, “The Minister H.E. Michael Ellis said that we have enrolled these two mosques this marvellous mosque on the list, not only to maintain and to protect places for worship but also to celebrate together the heritage of the Muslim community in England.”