The Woking Mosque – British Muslim Heritage

The Woking Mosque (known today as the Shah Jahan Mosque), built in 1889 by Dr Gottleib Wilhelm Leitner was the first mosque to be built in the UK and Northern Europe.

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Since its inception, regular congregational and Eid celebrations were held at the Woking Mosque and Muslim dignitaries from all over the world visited the mosque when in Britain. Historical accounts demonstrate the eclecticism of the congregation, which included women and men of a range of nationalities, while articles on numerous subjects suggest the mosque advocated a tolerant and non-sectarian brand of Islam, and sought to accommodate itself to its British context and represent Islam to the British public as compatible with and relevant to their lives.

 

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The Woking Mosque had numerous Imams over the years, as well as frequently hosting visiting preachers. Some of the most notable Imams of the Mosque included early British Muslim Pioneers like Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall and its congregational prayers were attended by dignitaries like Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Abdullah Quilliam. A cemetery nearby on Horsell Common provided burials for Muslims, especially for Muslim soldiers who were killed in the World Wars.

 

Currently, the Woking Mosque has been grantedShah Jehan Mosque Grade II, Listed Building status showing its importance to the heritage of Britain. It is important for Muslims living in Britain to understand the history of Islam in this country and the efforts that were made by the first British Muslims to establish the framework that has allowed contemporary British Muslim society to flourish.

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