Saturday, October 31, 2020

Major Development at UK's Largest Mosque Following Fire

The iconic Baitul Futuh Mosque Complex in Morden has undergone a monumental redesign of the front entrance following a terrible fire.

The immense mosque in Morden was originally built in 2003 as the largest mosque in Western Europe, accommodating over 10,000 worshippers. The construction cost of £15 million was covered entirely by donations from members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association and it is their central complex in the UK. AMA UK has been established since 1914 and their motto is ‘Love For All, Hatred For None’.

On 26 September 2015, tragedy struck as a huge fire tore through the administration block of the complex. Half the ground floor, as well as the first floor and the roof, were ablaze. The fire took 70 firefighters and 10 fire engines to be brought under control and continued burning for 30 hours. The main prayer halls were thankfully unaffected and miraculously there was no loss of life.

Irfan Qureshi, AMA National Secretary for Properties, recounts how they sprang into action to keep things operational when the crisis hit: “we had to accommodate all the offices that were in the main building into cabins at the back of the site. All the major offices were back up and running in 48 hours!”

Complex demolition work had to be undertaken during 2017 as a result of the extensive structural damage when the heat of the fire had buckled large girders.  In 2019 work began on repairing and rebuilding the front of the complex. Mr Qureshi explained the new structure, “the front, which is the facade, is made from moca cream limestone from a quarry called LSI Stone in Portugal. The stonemasons place it on steel brackets which is fixed to the main structure.”

At first glance, the reconstruction is notably larger than the old administration block. “We have two large halls: one on the ground floor and on the first floor the hall can be split in two. The second floor is essentially all offices for the UK administrative block, but above that we have two further floors of guest space for people who come and visit His Holiness, the worldwide Head.”

Members of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community have also contributed generously to this project. “When the appeal was launched by His Holiness in his Friday Sermon, the appeal was made worldwide, although the UK community is contributing to the bulk of the funds.”

The new building will be an ideal complement to the future plans to rejuvenate Morden Town Centre. “The external structure is complete so we have got another 9-10 months before the reconstruction is complete.”

The Baitul Futuh Mosque is the largest mosque in the UK and Spectator Magazine voted it as one of the ‘Top 50 Buildings in the World’. As a result, “the worldwide attention on this mosque is quite immense,” said Mr Qureshi. “Baitul Futuh means ‘House of Victories’ and its name signifies how the UK Ahmadiyya Community has increased in all its efforts in trying to bring the world to one creator”.

“It’s a huge religious focus from our point of view and the mosque is well known in political circles - it’s really on the world map now.”

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