The United Kingdom is home to a diverse and vibrant Muslim community, with over three million adherents of Islam. One of the ways that Muslims express their faith and culture is through the construction and maintenance of mosques, which are places of worship and social gathering for Muslims. Mosques are also a source of pride and identity for the Muslim community, as well as a symbol of tolerance and harmony for the wider society.
In this article, we will explore the top 10 biggest mosques in the UK, based on their dedicated prayer space capacity. We will also provide some background information and interesting facts about each mosque, as well as some photos to give you a glimpse of their beauty and architecture. Finally, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about mosques in the UK.
1. Al-Jamia Suffa-Tul-Islam Grand Mosque (Bradford)
The Al-Jamia Suffa-Tul-Islam Grand Mosque, also known as the Bradford Grand Mosque, is the biggest mosque in the UK, with a capacity of 8,000 people. It is located in the city of Bradford, which has one of the largest Muslim populations in the country. The mosque was established in 1982 by the Tablighi Jamaat, a global Islamic missionary movement The mosque underwent a major expansion and renovation project in 2014, which added a new prayer hall, a library, a conference hall, a funeral service, and a car park. The mosque also hosts various educational and social activities, such as Quran classes, youth clubs, sports facilities, and interfaith dialogues.
2. Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif (Birmingham)
The Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif, also known as the Ghamkol Sharif Mosque, is the second biggest mosque in the UK, with a capacity of 6,000 people. It is located in the city of Birmingham, which has the largest Muslim population in England. The mosque was founded in 1992 by the Naqshbandi Sufi order, a mystical branch of Islam that emphasizes spiritual purification and connection with God. The mosque is named after the shrine of Khwaja Muhammad Alauddin Siddiqui, a revered Sufi saint and scholar in Pakistan. The mosque is known for its dome and minaret, which are inspired by the Ottoman and Mughal styles of architecture. The mosque also offers various services and programs, such as Islamic education, charity work, interfaith initiatives, and media production.
3. Birmingham Central Mosque (Birmingham)
The Birmingham Central Mosque, also known as the Central Mosque, is the third biggest mosque in the UK, with a capacity of 6,000 people. It is located in the city of Birmingham, near the Highgate area. The mosque was established in 1969 by the Birmingham Mosque Trust, a charitable organization that represents the diverse Muslim community in the city. The mosque was officially opened in 1975 by the Saudi King Khalid bin Abdulaziz, who donated £500,000 for its construction. The mosque is designed in a modern style, with a large dome and four minarets. The mosque also provides various facilities and activities, such as Islamic education, social welfare, health care, marriage counseling, and funeral services.
4. Islamic Cultural Centre (London)
The Islamic Cultural Centre, also known as the London Central Mosque or the Regent’s Park Mosque, is the fourth biggest mosque in the UK, with a capacity of 5,400 people. It is located in the city of London, near the Regent’s Park. The mosque was founded in 1944 by the British government, as a gesture of goodwill to the Muslim world during World War II. The mosque was officially opened in 1977 by the Saudi King Faisal bin Abdulaziz, who donated £2 million for its construction. The mosque is designed in a contemporary style, with a golden dome and a tall minaret. The mosque also houses the Islamic Cultural Centre, which offers various services and programs, such as Islamic education, research, art, culture, and interfaith relations.
5. Jamiyat Tabligh-ul-Islam (Bradford)
The Jamiyat Tabligh-ul-Islam, also known as the Victor Street Mosque or the West Bowling Mosque, is the fifth biggest mosque in the UK, with a capacity of 5,200 people. It is located in the city of Bradford, in the West Bowling area. The mosque was established in 1978 by the Tablighi Jamaat, a global Islamic missionary movement. The mosque was expanded and renovated in 2006, which added a new prayer hall, a library, a conference room, and a car park. The mosque also organizes various events and activities, such as Quran classes, youth programs, charity drives, and community outreach.
6. East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre (London)
The East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre, also known as the ELM or the LMC, is the sixth biggest mosque in the UK, with a capacity of 5,000 people. It is located in the city of London, in the Whitechapel area. The mosque was founded in 1910 by the London Mosque Fund, a group of prominent Muslims who wanted to establish a place of worship and a centre of Islamic learning in the capital. The mosque was relocated and rebuilt several times, until it settled in its current location in 1985. The mosque was extended and enhanced in 2004, with the addition of the London Muslim Centre, a multi-purpose facility that offers various services and programs, such as Islamic education, social welfare, health care, media production, and business development. The mosque is designed in a blend of Islamic and British styles, with a copper dome and two minarets. The mosque also hosts the annual Muslim Lifestyle Show, which showcases the diversity and creativity of the Muslim community in the UK.
7. Leeds Islamic Centre (Leeds)
The Leeds Islamic Centre, also known as the Leeds Grand Mosque or the LGMC, is the seventh biggest mosque in the UK, with a capacity of 4,700 people. It is located in the city of Leeds, in the Hyde Park area. The mosque was established in 1994 by the Leeds Muslim Youth Forum, a group of young Muslims who wanted to create a place of worship and a hub of Islamic activity in the city. The mosque was converted from a former church building, which was purchased for £300,000. The mosque is designed in a simple and elegant style, with a white facade and a green dome. The mosque also offers various facilities and activities, such as Islamic education, social services, sports clubs, and environmental projects.
8. Jamia al-Akbaria (Luton)
The Jamia al-Akbaria, also known as the Bury Park Jamia Masjid or the BPJM, is the eighth biggest mosque in the UK, with a capacity of 4,700 people. It is located in the town of Luton, in the Bury Park area. The mosque was established in 1975 by the Jamiatul Ulama Britain, a group of Islamic scholars and teachers who wanted to spread the teachings of Islam and the Quran in the UK. The mosque was built on a former cinema site, which was acquired for £75,000. The mosque is designed in a traditional style, with a red brick exterior and a blue dome. The mosque also provides various services and programs, such as Islamic education, charity work, funeral services, and marriage ceremonies.
9. Masjid-e-Jamia Al Madina (Middlesbrough)
The Masjid-e-Jamia Al Madina, also known as the Middlesbrough Central Mosque or the MCM, is the ninth biggest mosque in the UK, with a capacity of 4,500 people. It is located in the town of Middlesbrough, in the North Ormesby area. The mosque was founded in 1962 by the Middlesbrough Muslim Association, a group of Muslim immigrants who wanted to establish a place of worship and a centre of Islamic culture in the town. The mosque was relocated and reconstructed in 2007, which added a new
10. Markazi Masjid (Dewsbury)
The Markazi Masjid, also known as the Dewsbury Markaz or the Darul Uloom, is the tenth biggest mosque in the UK, with a capacity of 4,000 people. It is located in the town of Dewsbury, in the Savile Town area. The mosque was established in 1978 by the Tablighi Jamaat, a global Islamic missionary movement. The mosque is the headquarters and the main training centre of the Tablighi Jamaat in Europe. The mosque is designed in a simple and modest style, with a white exterior and a green dome. The mosque also runs various courses and programs, such as Islamic education, missionary training, Quran memorization, and Arabic language.
These are the top 10 biggest mosques in the UK, based on their dedicated prayer space capacity. They are not only places of worship, but also centres of Islamic learning, culture, and community. They reflect the diversity and richness of the Muslim heritage and identity in the UK. They also contribute to the social and spiritual well-being of the Muslim and non-Muslim population in the country. We hope that this article has given you some insight and inspiration to visit these mosques and learn more about Islam and Muslims in the UK.
10 Most Asked Questions About Mosques in the UK
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about mosques in the UK, along with their answers:
- Q: How many mosques are there in the UK?
- A: According to the Muslim Council of Britain, there are over 1,500 mosques in the UK as of 2020.
- Q: What is the difference between a mosque and a masjid?
- A: A mosque and a masjid are two terms for the same thing: a place of worship for Muslims. The word mosque comes from the Arabic word masjid, which means a place of prostration. However, some Muslims prefer to use the word masjid, as it is closer to the original Arabic term.
- Q: What are the different types of mosques in the UK?
- A: There are different types of mosques in the UK, depending on their size, function, and affiliation. Some of the common types are:
- Purpose-built mosques: These are mosques that are built from scratch, specifically for the purpose of worship and other Islamic activities. They usually have distinctive features, such as domes, minarets, and Islamic art and architecture. Examples are the Baitul Futuh Mosque, the Islamic Cultural Centre, and the Suleymaniye Mosque.
- Converted mosques: These are mosques that are converted from existing buildings, such as churches, synagogues, cinemas, warehouses, or schools. They may retain some of the original features, or they may be modified to suit the Islamic requirements. Examples are the Fazl Mosque, the Leeds Islamic Centre, and the Jamia al-Akbaria.
- House mosques: These are mosques that are located in residential houses, usually in areas where there are no other mosques nearby. They may have limited facilities and space, but they serve the basic needs of the local Muslim community. Examples are the Baitul Aman Mosque, the Baitul Ehsan Mosque, and the Baitus Subhan Mosque.
- Q: What are the main activities that take place in a mosque?
- A: The main activities that take place in a mosque are:
- Prayer: This is the most important and frequent activity in a mosque. Muslims are required to perform five daily prayers, at specific times, facing the direction of Mecca. The prayers are performed in congregation, led by an imam, or a prayer leader. The prayers consist of reciting verses from the Quran, praising God, and asking for His guidance and forgiveness. The prayers are accompanied by physical movements, such as standing, bowing, and prostrating. The most important prayer of the week is the Friday prayer, which is preceded by a sermon, or a khutbah, delivered by the imam.
- Education: This is another important and common activity in a mosque. Mosques offer various courses and programs for Muslims of all ages and backgrounds, to learn about Islam and the Quran. Some of the subjects include Arabic language, Islamic history, theology, jurisprudence, ethics, and spirituality. Some mosques also run schools, colleges, or universities, where Muslims can pursue higher education in Islamic and secular fields.
- Charity: This is another essential and frequent activity in a mosque. Mosques collect and distribute various forms of charity, such as money, food, clothes, or medical aid, to help the poor, the needy, the orphans, the widows, and the refugees, both locally and globally. Mosques also organize fundraising events, such as dinners, auctions, or concerts, to support various causes and projects, such as building mosques, schools, hospitals, or wells, in different parts of the world.
- Social: This is another vital and regular activity in a mosque. Mosques provide a space and a platform for Muslims to interact, socialize, and network with each other, and to celebrate various occasions, such as festivals, weddings, births, or funerals. Mosques also host various events and activities, such as sports, arts, culture, and entertainment, to cater to the diverse interests and talents of the Muslim community.
- Interfaith: This is another significant and growing activity in a mosque. Mosques engage in dialogue and cooperation with other faith groups and organizations, to promote mutual understanding, respect, and harmony, and to address common issues and challenges, such as racism, extremism, poverty, and climate change. Mosques also invite and welcome non-Muslims to visit and learn about Islam and Muslims, and to participate in some of the mosque activities, such as open days, exhibitions, or tours.
- Q: What are the rules and etiquette of visiting a mosque?
- A: There are some rules and etiquette that visitors should follow when visiting a mosque, such as:
- Dress modestly: Visitors should wear clothes that cover their arms, legs, and hair, and avoid wearing anything that is too tight, transparent, or revealing. Men should wear trousers and shirts, and women should wear long skirts or dresses, and headscarves. Shoes should be removed before entering the prayer hall, and placed in the designated area.
- Respect the prayer times: Visitors should avoid visiting a mosque during the prayer times, as this may disturb the worshippers. The prayer times vary depending on the season and the location, but they are usually announced by the call to prayer, or the adhan, which can be heard from the mosque speakers. If visitors happen to be in the mosque during the prayer times, they should remain silent and observe the prayer from a distance, or join the prayer if they wish to.
- Follow the gender segregation: Visitors should follow the gender segregation that is practiced in most mosques, where men and women pray in separate areas, usually divided by a curtain, a wall, or a partition. Men should enter the mosque from the main entrance, and women should enter from the side or the back entrance. Visitors should also avoid any physical contact with the opposite gender, such as shaking hands or hugging, unless they are related or married.
- Ask permission and questions: Visitors should ask permission from the mosque staff or the imam before taking any photos or videos, or touching any books or objects, in the mosque. Visitors should also feel free to ask any questions or clarifications about Islam and Muslims, or anything they see or hear in the mosque, as long as they are respectful and sincere.
- Q: What are the benefits of visiting a mosque?
- A: There are many benefits of visiting a mosque, such as:
- Learning: Visiting a mosque is a great opportunity to learn about Islam and Muslims, their beliefs, practices, values, and culture. Visitors can gain firsthand knowledge and experience of the mosque activities, such as prayer, education, charity, social, and interfaith. Visitors can also ask questions and clear any doubts or misconceptions they may have about Islam and Muslims.
- Appreciating: Visiting a mosque is a wonderful chance to appreciate the beauty and diversity of the mosque architecture, art, and design. Visitors can admire the various features and elements of the mosque, such as the dome, the minaret, the mihrab, the minbar, the carpets, the calligraphy, the tiles, and the chandeliers. Visitors can also enjoy the peaceful and serene atmosphere of the mosque, and the soothing and melodious recitation of the Quran.
- Connecting: Visiting a mosque is a valuable occasion to connect with the Muslim community, and to build bridges of friendship and understanding. Visitors can meet and interact with the mosque staff, the imam, and the worshippers, and exchange views and experiences. Visitors can also participate in some of the mosque activities, such as sharing a meal, playing a