The first mosque founded in England, which has stood as a derelict shell for many years, has been refurbished and reopened to Merseyside’s 20,000 Muslims. But how did it come to be there in the first place?
The mid-terrace house in Liverpool, with its broken windows and peeling paint, had given no clue it was, as one of the men behind its renovation put it, the “birthplace of Islam in Britain”.
The building, in Brougham Terrace, was once owned by Abdullah Quilliam, who opened it as Liverpool Muslim Institute in 1889.
A prominent English solicitor who had been educated on the Isle of Man and the son of a Methodist preacher, William Henry Quilliam converted to Islam two years earlier, taking the name Abdullah and claiming to be the first native Englishman to embrace the religion.
The Abdullah Quilliam Society’s Jahangir Mohammed says it is difficult to underestimate the importance of the man or the courage he showed in becoming a Muslim, a step he took while on a trip to Morocco.
“On his way, he saw some Hajjis, who had been on pilgrimage, and was intrigued at how peaceful they were when he saw them praying,” he said.
“A Muslim colleague explained that Islam was simply a continuation of previous faiths, Judaism and Christianity. It all seemed logical to him so he became a Muslim at that point.