Britain’s first mosque to get $4 mn facelift

January 3rd, 2009 - 1:45 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 3 (IANS) Britain’s first mosque is to get a facelift, more than a century after falling into disuse.The mosque, situated in a terraced house in Liverpool, was built in 1899 and will cost 3 million pounds (over $4 million) to be reborn as a modern structure. The rebuilding work starts next month.

It has not been used as a place of worship for at least a century but the historical site is to be rebuilt and restored by the Abdullah Quilliam Society, a private organisation.

Henry William Quilliam, a wealthy businessman who took on the name of Abdullah after converting to Islam, opened the mosque in 1899. It ceased to function when he decided to become a world traveller in 1908.

Nearly 90 years later, Mohammad Akbar Ali, a retired doctor who is now 85, decided to restore the historical structure and created the Abdullah Quilliam Society. Galib Khan, who is the current chairman of the Abdullah Quilliam Society and lives in Liverpool, said he hoped part of the building could be opened within the next six months.

He told The Independent: “It’s a heritage site for us. This truly is the birthplace of Islam in Britain. We will start on the refurbishment once we have finalised the lease arrangements with the city council and want to make it into a heritage centre for Islamic culture and interfaith dialogue.”

The emergency repairs to the roof will cost about 100,000 pounds and 2.5 million pounds still need to be raised for the work. The new structure, when work is completed in 2011, will include the restored mosque, a new mosque, a courtyard, museum, art gallery, learning centre for interfaith work, library and cafe.

Mumin Khan, chief executive of the Abdullah Quilliam Society, said: “We have reached a milestone and breakthrough by raising more than a quarter of a million pounds in pledges for the work with one of the Bangladeshi-language channels, Channel S. This allows us to start the refurbishment phase of the project while carrying out further fundraising.”

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