Baitul Futuh mosque is much more than a space to pray
ByRachael Davis Reporter
- 18:19, 26 MAY 2021
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One of the largest mosques in Western Europe, and the biggest in Britain, is right on our doorstep – but many aren’t aware of exactly what goes on there.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim community bought the site in the late 1990s, and the Baitul Futuh mosque was inaugurated in 2003.
It is now a thriving community hub for all South Londoners, with space to host tens of thousands of worshippers, a sports hall, media centre, library, bookshop and more.https://get-latest.convrse.media/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mylondon.news%2Fnews%2Fsouth-london-news%2Finside-uks-biggest-mosque-sports-20669137&cre=top&cip=7&view=web
There are around 30,000 Ahmadiyya Muslims in the UK, and followers of this branch of Islam believe in the second coming of the Messiah in 1835. They believe that God sent Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to restore morality, justice and peace.
The Ahmadiyya community has been established in the UK since 1913, and are led by the motto ‘love for all, hatred for none’.
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A community hub
Not only can the Baitul Futuh (which translates to House of Victories) host 13,000 worshippers in its prayer halls and overflow spaces, it is also a hub of the South London community.
It has a sports hall which hosts training and tournaments, school exams, Covid vaccination sessions, and inter-faith symposiums, as well as a library, exhibition space, bookshop, gym, and maintained gardens.Huusk KitchenOne Japanese Tool That Is Taking Over Kitchens In IndonesiaMisterStocksNancy Sinatra Is Almost 80, Try Not To Smile When You See Her Nowby TaboolaSponsored Links
There is even a TV studio and radio studio, home to Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International (MTA International), broadcast online and on Sky, and Voice of Islam for DAB radio.
More of a community complex than simply a mosque, the Baitul Futuh is an important space for Ahmadiyya Muslims to meet, pray, celebrate and learn.
The £15 million mosque was paid for entirely by donations from the Ahmadiyya Muslim community and built by volunteers.
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Following a devastating fire in 2015 which destroyed the administrative side of the complex, extensive renovation and rebuilding works have been taking place, and a new building with a stunning façade is soon to be unveiled in a ceremony.
My London was shown around the mosque by two imams: Adeel Shah and Mansoor Ahmad Clarke. They explained the traditions, events and uses of the mosque, from huge Eid celebrations to daily prayers, sports games to conferences.
Decoration and design
Taking our shoes off before entering the mosque, we passed through a metal detector that is mainly used to make sure everyone is safe when the Baitul Futuh hosts huge events like mass prayers and celebrations.
The entrance to the mosque is ornately decorated, with golden lettering celebrating the building’s foundation and inauguration in 1999 and 2003 respectively.
Potted plants and trees surround the stone steps, each containing carefully planted flowers and shrubs. The mosque often wins Merton in Bloom thanks to its intricately designed gardens, cared for by volunteer gardeners and members of the mosque.
The main mosque building is carpeted with soft green flooring – no cold feet here – and Mansoor explained that the whole building is carefully temperature controlled not only for the comfort of worshippers, but also to ensure that the running of the mosque is as eco-conscious as possible.
The men’s prayer room, where afternoon prayers were taking place as we visited, was flooded with natural light.
Throughout the mosque, including in the prayer rooms, the decoration is minimal. Mansoor and Adeel explained that this is to help to reduce distractions from prayers and to ensure a total focus on God while in the mosque.
The walls are painted white, and the carpets in the prayer rooms have a striped design which helps worshippers line up to pray in the direction of Mecca.
Adeel said that dozens of worshippers can fit on a single row, meaning hundreds of people can pray in the prayer rooms at any one time, though with Covid restrictions this number is reduced.