This article first appeared at the Gatestone Institute website
Anti-radical Muslims must break their silence to oppose the revived for building a Tablighi Jamaat [TJ] mega-mosque in the West Ham neighbourhood of London. Mobilisation against the mega-mosque should include Muslims of all interpretations who are moderate, traditional, conventional and even conservative, in all locations where TJ is active. TJ cadres are mainly present in South Asia, the United Kingdom, Western Europe, Southeast Asia, and North America.
The mega-mosque proposal had been perceived as ruled out of consideration after Newham Council, which governs the borough in which West Ham is located, rejected the application for its construction in December 2012. The previous year, Newham Council had heard and turned down a petition for placement of a mosque at the site.
Nevertheless, the mega-mosque supporters were later granted a temporary right to occupy the property for two years, according to the local Newham Recorder. During that period, about 3,000 congregants used the location as a mosque. That permission has now expired.
Newham Council’s Strategic Development Committee in 2012 found that the TJ mosque concept was too grandiose and would generate too much local traffic. The TJ mega-mosque promoters called for a structure that would accommodate 9,000 people at prayer, and, as detailed by the Newham Recorder, “a segregated space for nearly 2,000 women, a library, dining hall, visitors’ centre, and eight flats for imams and guests, along with tennis courts, football pitches, a garden, and a riverside walk along Abbey Creek.”
Also in 2012, Newham Council pointed out that the former chemical plant on the land where the mega-mosque was to be located is “heavily” polluted, an issue that has not been addressed by the proponents of the scheme, who call themselves the Anjuman-E-Islahul-Muslimeen Trust and the Riverine Trust.
In May 2014, however, as reported in the Newham Recorder, the unanimous disapproval of the mega-mosque by Newham Council in 2012 was scheduled for review by the Planning Inspectorate for England and Wales, an arm of the UK central government. A determination will then be made by Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in the current Conservative cabinet of David Cameron, as to whether the mega-mosque will be allowed to proceed.
For anti-radical Muslims, the most important issue in countering the mega-mosque is its patronage by Tablighi Jamaat – as shown by the attempt to name the complex the “Masjid-i-Ilyas” or “Ilyas Mosque” after Muhammad Ilyas Kandhlavi (1885-1944), who was born in Uttar Pradesh, north India. TJ was created as a preaching movement based on the radical doctrines of the Deobandi sect, in which Kandhlavi studied. Deobandism is known mainly as the Islamic interpretation that inspires the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as terrorist groups attacking spiritual Sufis, Shia Muslims, and others whom the Deobandis have declared to be apostates.
The London mega-mosque has been labelled variously as the Markaz or Central Mosque and the Abbey Mills Mosque, but no effort has been made to disguise its TJ affiliation.
Opposition to the TJ mega-mosque in West Ham has been led by a Christian former West Ham councillor, Alan Craig. Mr. Craig directs a protest campaign, MegaMosqueNoThanks. Mr. Craig’s group expects that Secretary Pickles will hand down a decision on the mega-mosque in autumn of this year.