Around a quarter of Forest Gate's 30,000 population is Muslim and the district is served by 13 mosques. What follows is a lay, non-believer, account of the local mosques. We are running the feature as a step towards explaining, at a fairly rudimentary level, how a significant section of our community organises itself.
There has been a small Islamic community in Britain since the 18th century. It grew in number with the development of the East India Company, which employed a large number of sailors from the sub-continent (primarily from what is now Bangladesh) to ship goods into London. Many of them stayed and developed small communities initially around the London Docks and Whitechapel areas.
Somewhat surprisingly, however - for a range of one-off factors - the first mosque in Britain was opened in Woking in 1889.
|Woking mosque - Britain's first, photo c 1900|
Although Moslems are required to pray five times a day, Friday prayers (Salatul - Jum'ah) can only be professed in a mosque, by adult male Moslems. Women are permitted to pray almost anywhere and there is no requirement to attend a mosque on Fridays - hence the absence of provision for women in some of the buildings listed below.
It is the Friday in-mosque worship requirement, together with the desire to create community centres for the faithful, that has lead to the quite rapid development of mosques in Newham (one for every five hundred or so of the faithful).
The vast majority of mosques in Britain today are not purpose built structures, but occupy previous shops, houses and other civil buildings. Forest Gate is no different from this - as the information, below, indicates.
Approximately 90% of British Moslems are Sunni, and the minority, 10%, Shi'a - a position reflected in the distribution of mosques in Forest Gate.
Deobandis and Bareilvis are the most populous divisions within the British Sunni community - largely because they are dominant in the Indian sub-continent. The Deobandis (about 50% of all London Moslems) tend to be more dogmatic in approach, and the Bareilvis favour a more charismatic approach to following the faith.
Quwwatul Islam Mosque
62-66 Upton Lane.
Tel: 020 8475 0126. www.quwwatulislam.org
Capacity: 1600 (men only)
Theme: Deobandi (Sunni)
This mosque was established over 35 years ago, originally simply for Friday prayers (Jummah) and as a Madrasa for children. It was originally located in Manor Park, and moved to its current location in 1986, by purchasing a warehouse.
In 1999 the elders purchased bakery land at the rear (Chaucer Road), for girls' education. A school was established in 1999, initially as a primary school, which subsequently offered secondary education, too. It is recognised by Ofsted and currently has a "Good" rating. It, additionally, caters for up to 110 girls per week for evening education.
Participated in 'Visit My Mosque Day' - 5 February 2017.
Adara or Idara Minhaj-ul-Quran Education Centre, co-located with the Muslim Youth League
292-296 Romford Road.
Tel: 020 8257 1786. No website
Capacity: 700 (including women)
Theme: Sufi - Bareilvi - Tahir Qadri (a charismatic Sunni tradition)
The premises was formerly the Odeon cinema (for details of its history, see here). The fine building today looks particularly shabby and really could do with an empathetic facelift.
328 Romford Road.
Tel: 020 8555 5363. Web: www.imamiamission.org.uk (website information open only to members)
Capacity: 400 (including women)
Theme: Shi'a (The only Shi'a mosque in Forest Gate - it is the smaller Moslem tradition - see above)
The premises were formerly a house - once occupied by John Curwen, founder of the Earlham Grove Hall, and Tonic So-Fa music education system (see here, for further details of him and the system).
International Khatme Nubuwat Movement, also known as Darul-Uloom
11-13 St George Road.
Tel: 020 8552 7052. No website
Capacity: 400 (men only)
Newham North Islamic Association (Green Street Mosque)
88 Green Street.
Tel: 020 8586 8439. Web: www.greenstreetmosque.co.uk (seems to be defunct)
Capacity: 475 (including women)
Management: Pakistani and Bangladeshi
Affiliated to the Muslim Council of Britain
According to its latest returns to the Charity Commission, the Mosque's income is around £130k p.a.
Participated in 'Visit My Mosque Day' 5 February 2017.
Azhar Masjid Mosque, also known as Azhar Academy
235 Romford Road.
Tel: 020 8534 5959. Web: www.aags.org.uk
Capacity: 600 (including women)
Affiliated to the Muslim Council of Britain
The mosque was formerly a Congregational church, and is a Grade 2 listed building (see here, for further details).
The mosque also incorporates a girls' school. According to its March 2016 Ofsted judgement, the secondary school is "good" and early years provision, "outstanding".
There are approximately 260 secondary school aged girls and 75 fte equivalent mixed primary pupils. Annual fees are £2,600. Further details on the building's listed status can be found here. Further details of the schools' Ofsted ratings can be found here).
According to its latest returns to the Charity Commission, the organisation has an annual income of £1.18m, employs 63 people and has 53 volunteers.
183 Green Street.
No further contact details
Capacity: 150 (including women)
Theme: Salafi (an ultra-conservative Sunni tradition)
It is located in the former premises of a Jehovah's Witness' Kingdom Hall.
Forest Gate Mosque
447-451 Romford Road.
Tel: 020 8555 6258. No website
Capacity: 400 men
It was formerly two shops
It is co-located with Iman Zakariyah Academy primary School and The Bangladeshi Muslim Shomity Ltd.
According to its latest Charity Commission returns, its annual income is around £347k p.a.
Jamia Darus Sunnah
98 Woodgrange Road.
Tel: 020 8530 0406. No website
Capacity: 300 (men only)
This mosque has recently undergone a substantial refurbishment. It was formerly a shop, and a century ago a printers/publishers, associated with then prominent Forest Gate artist and politician Charles Ward (see here for details).
Al Karam Mosque co-located with Al Karam Trust Masjid
411 - 413 Katherine Road.
Tel: 020 8471 9273. No further contact details
Capacity: 450 (including women)
Affiliated to British Muslim Foundation
The mosque occupies the buildings of former shops
Masjid-e-Quba and Anjjuman - Raza-e-Mustafa Education Centre
198 Shrewsbury Road.
Tel: 020 8470 6332. No website
Capacity: 300 (men only)
Affiliated to the British Muslim Forum
The organisation has a record of submitting late returns to the Charity Commission. Its latest set of accounts showed it to have an income of £134k, in 2015.
Khatme - Nubuwwat Academe, co-located with the Islamic Dawa Council UK
387 Katherine Road.
Tel: 020 8471 4434. No website
Capacity: 30 (male only)
The mosque occupies a former a shop.
12 Stukeley Road. Tel: 020 8552 7681
Capacity: 1500 men and women
The information in this blog has been gleaned from a number of different websites - many, sadly, out of date. It is presented in good faith by a non-adherent. We will be delighted to amend any errors within it, or add further useful information supplied to us.