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Hidden Spaces: The unique Birmingham Central Mosque

Birmingham Central Mosque remains an almost unique institution in the UK not being aligned to any single school of Islam

It was Birmingham’s first ever purpose built mosque and only the second in the UK when it opened its doors to worshippers in 1975.

And the Birmingham Central Mosque remains an almost unique institution in the UK not being aligned to any single school of Islam.

Worshippers of any denomination are welcome to attend and indeed the congregation, which during Friday prayers numbers upwards of 4,000, are drawn from all parts of the Muslim world - Pakistanis, Arabians and Africans all mingle in its vast hall.

It also has the benefit of, unlike other prominent mosques, having been built and run entirely on the donations of its congregation. There is no foreign Government sponsorship or backing from influential wealthy benefactors as there is at some other places.

In the late 1960s Birmingham’s Muslim community was congregating in small houses or community halls for their prayers and so a group got together and decided that mosque was needed. Among those founders was the current chairman Muhammad Afzal.

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They secured the land alongside Belgrave Middleway, in Highgate from the city council and started a major fundraising campaign seeking donations from businesses and individuals.

Building work began in 1969 and took six years to complete. The gold dome was added during the 1980s and more recently new galleries and modest extensions to add fire escapes have been added.

It is an impressive three storey building, with community meeting rooms and offices on the ground floor. The vast open main hall on the first floor is where the male congregation gather for prayers. The hall can accommodate up to 3,000 men, while the ladies section has room for a further 1,500.

Hanging above is a huge ornate chandelier, donated to the Mosque by a member of the congregation.

And surrounding the main hall are a series of second floor galleries, including one from where non-Muslim guests can sit and view events below.

The Mosque is also a leading member of Birmingham’s multi-faith movement, a champion of anti-radicalisation initiatives in the community and heavily involved in charity work, including running a food bank and a winter soup kitchen for the homeless.



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