|Wandsworth Borough Friday 30th May 2003|
By David Tilley
One of the most stunning and ambitious architectural projects to be created in Merton for generations Morden's Bait-ul-Futuh mosque is rapidly taking shape, aiming to create a centre for a global community and a valuable asset for the area.
The place of worship for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which will cost around £5million, has been a talking point ever since it began to take shape on the former Express Dairies site in London Road, more than two years ago.
The new mosque builds on already strong links with Merton and Wandsworth. Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad established the global community in 1889 after declaring himself Islam's Promised Messiah and Mahdi.
His followers have been persecuted because the community is not recognised by mainstream Muslims.
As a result the first overseas mission was established in London in 1913 and the Fazl Mosque in Southfields in 1924.
It is now established in 170 countries and even has its own satellite television station, Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International.
The focal point of the Morden site is the domed mosque place which will accommodate 3,000 people for daily prayers.
But while that is the centrepiece there is so much more to this site, from the minaret, to conference rooms, gymnasium, pharmacy and large hall.
Project director, Nasser Khan, stresses the point that the facilities, funded entirely by member donations, including the homeopathic pharmacy, will be available to all.
"We want to play a part in the local community, and we have had a lot of interest in what we are doing. Local people will be able to use our facilities, such as the large hall."
Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, grandson of the Promised Messiah who was head of the community until his death last month (see obituary right), had a strong belief in inclusivity and helped raise thousands of pounds for charities worldwide.
He wanted the whole community, believers and non-believers alike, to benefit from Ahmadiyya's presence.
The association's elders, or Ansarullah, are continuing that tradition by holding a national charity walk at Merton College in London Road on Sunday, June 15. There is a lunch reception at 2.30pm.
Among these is the raising of funds for good causes. These include Age Concern, Friends of St George's Hospital, Merton Mencap, Merton Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Group, Save the Children and St Helier Hospital.
The organisers hope events such as these will help "bring communities closer together and promote good and benefit to all".
The association also holds open days and has set up a community liaison group to demystify the religion as a whole and Ahmadiyya Muslims in particular.
As the mosque will become the community's UK headquarters, Mr Khan predicts community members there are more than 5,000 in the London area, many in Wandsworth and Merton, and 200million worldwide will want to move to Morden.
"This will have tremendous benefit for the town.
"We've had tremendous support from our British community and from those around the world.
"This will put Morden on the map and rejuvenate the area. The next few years are going to be really interesting.
"When completed later this year this will be the largest mosque in the UK and probably Europe," he said.
Mr Khan said there are many members looking to buy property and set up business in the area.
The mosque is due to open in October to coincide with the date that the Fazl Mosque was officially opened on October 3, 1926.
Entry to the walk is by invitation only.
For sponsor forms or further information, contact co-ordinator, Waleed Ahmad on 07711 687 425 at anytime or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Wandsworth Borough Friday 30th May 2003