As the newly built mosque on Mulberry Way nears completion, Qaiser Malik, secretary of the Qur’ani Murkuz Trust, outlines the history and future of the landmark building. Photo by Geoff Wilkinson
South Woodford Islamic Centre (started and managed by Qur’ani Murkuz Trust, a registered charity) began as a learning centre and mosque from a single-storey set of old buildings on Mulberry Way which, over the years, had seen many transformations in its usage. In the last 25 years, Qur’ani Murkuz Trust (QMT), under the able guidance of its chairman Dr M.E. Fahim, has served not only the religious needs of the Muslim community but also became a centre providing a social space for Muslim women and children, both young and old, as well as hosting many cultural events and fundraisers for many important causes.
The centre hosted Three Faiths Forum events and jointly organised visits to the Holy Land with members of the Forum. It also provided health advice, conducted marriages, and provided support, counselling and adult learning facilities.
The mosque has faced its fair share of hate crime, which peaked when the centre was torched 21 years ago on the auspicious night of Eid-al-Adha and suffered huge damage.
Due to the demographic changes in the area, expanding needs of the community and limited space for children and women learning facilities, QMT applied for planning permission for a new building, and in 2019, consent was given by Redbridge Council. In mid-August 2020, the trustees commissioned the building works; completion has been slightly delayed due to a shortage of materials caused by Covid. It is hoped that the building should be ready for use in Ramadan at the beginning of April 2022. We plan a formal launch and opening of the building after Eid-al-Fitr and will hold an open day for all our neighbours.
The new building has already been appreciated by many who have seen it and who like the design and the brickwork; special care has been taken to match the structure with the surrounding environment. The new premises will provide ample space on the ground floor prayer hall for men and on the first floor for ladies. The basement will house our evening and weekend school. It will also be available for community activities and social events, neighbourhood watch meetings, local council meetings and Three Faiths Forum events. The new building provides for wheelchair access and includes a lift for those who need it. Interior design will pleasantly reflect the aesthetics of the Islamic faith.
In our commitment to the environment, the new building is equipped with solar panels, and all collected rainwater will be reused for services. All electrical equipment is being selected for their energy efficiency capacity; 15 years ago, we were declared the first green mosque in the country by BBC radio, for contributing to planting trees in the rainforest. To meet the operational costs of a large centre, four high-quality apartments are also part of the project to generate regular rental income for the mosque.
It is not just going to be a landmark building in the area but also a centre of excellence for our future generations, to train them to be responsible citizens of this country, with strong moral character and to play a positive role in future growth and development.
The South Woodford Islamic Centre is located at 10–14 Mulberry Way, South Woodford, E18 1ED. For more information, visit qmtrust.org.uk