BeLiFS Becoming Literate in Faith Setting

Faith Settings

Introduction to the Faith: Islam


Introduction to the Faith:

The East London Mosque and the London Muslim centre are located in the East end of London, on Whitechapel road. The area was once surrounded by the vibrant Jewish community with around 150 synagogues. The immediate area neighbouring the East London Mosque and the London Muslim Centre was once dominated by the Jewish community, with the Fieldgate street Synagogue as the most active Synagogue in the area, established in 1899 to accommodate the local community. Around 51.8% of the people living in Whitechapel now are of Bangladeshi origin (Census 2001). Worshippers attending the East London Mosque are Muslim and therefore believe in one God (Allah) and a chain of Prophets starting with Adam as the first and the Prophet Mohammed as the last. The Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over 23 years as a guiding light to the community. It is the only authentic and complete book of Allah in existence today. With the death of the Prophet Mohammed, there was a split in the opinion of leadership in the Muslim nation with Sunni and Shia Muslims. The leadership role is not a birthright but should be earned through trust of the people, which was the opinion a majority follow. Approximately 85% of Muslims around the world are Sunni Muslim. Even though both Sunni and Shia Muslims share the main Islamic belief and do not distinguish themselves by claiming membership in any particular group some spiritual life has been affected. As a result a majority of followers attending the East London Mosque and the London Muslim Centre are Sunni Muslim.


(2) Faith Group and Community in the Country

The term “East End” was one which was used as a prerogative sense which began in the late 19th century. It was one of the poorest areas of London, associated with poverty, crime, prostitution, high rates of unemployment, overcrowding, a great deal immigrants settled in the area in the past which has included the Huguenot refugees in the 17th century, the Irish during the 18th. The Jewish community settled around the east end in the 19th and 20th Century and now the Bangladeshi’s and Somali’s. There is also a growing North African community settling into the area.


The East London Mosque and the London Muslim centre is one of the busiest and vibrant Islamic Centres in Western Europe, it is located at the heart of Tower Hamlets (East London). In 1905 the first Eid prayer was held at London’s Hyde Park. Mosque donations were taken, halls hired and temporary accommodations set up for Friday prayers. During the 1930’s a temporary site on Commercial road was used as a Mosque and a hostel for the Muslim sailors. As the Muslim community increased in the 1950’s there was an urgent need for a more secure and permanent site. The official opening of the East London Mosque on Whitechapel road took place in 1985 to serve the local Bangladeshi, Muslim community. Temporary buildings were provided prior to the site on Whitechapel road for 80 years. The London Muslim Centre opened in 2004. It now provides a wide range of services to the Muslim and the non Muslim community enhancing community cohesion, encouraging participation and working in partnership.



(3) Faith Group in the Area

The East London mosque and the London Muslim Centre provide wide range of services and projects on its own and some in partnership with other organisations. Not only does it supply a religious and spiritual service such as prayers, religious advice and counselling, it also includes lectures and training, new Muslims advice and support, funeral and marriage services. There are also educational activities, training and classes for children, young people and adults. Social and welfare, Culture and heritage and economic regeneration services are offered to the local community.


The families taking part in the study attend the Evening Madrasah classes for two hours every week at the east London mosque and one attends the Al-Mizan primary school. The children live in close proximity of the mosque, travelling from Poplar, Bethnal Green and Stepney Green. Travelling for up to 20-30 minutes the children learn Arabic language, Tajweed (correct pronunciation of Qur’an reading) and Qur’an reading four days of the week. Fridays are allocated to Bengali language, concentrating on the reading and writing. Almost 300 children between 7 and 13 attend the classes on a weekly basis.