East London Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre


446-450 Commercial Road
London, E1 2NE
United Kingdom
46-92 Whitechapel Road
London, E1 1DN
United Kingdom
Date began: 
01 Aug 1941

In November 1910, a fund for a mosque in London was established. By 1926, a deed of trust was executed and the fund became known as the London Mosque Fund. Trustees included distinguished Muslims such as Syed Ameer Ali, Firoz Khan Noon and the Aga Khan, as well as sympathetic British peers. Until 1928, the trustees arranged for prayers to be held at various addresses in west London. Poor attendance and the eventual realization that the majority of Muslims in London lived in its East End led to the relocation of prayer meetings to the King’s Hall on Commercial Road in 1935. At this point, the trustees handed over the organization of prayer meetings and religious functions to the Jamiat-ul-Muslimin, an east London based organization.

The desirability of a mosque to meet the needs of the many seamen and other working-class Indians who inhabited the East End and attended these meetings was keenly felt, and in 1940 three adjoining houses on Commercial Road were purchased and converted into the East London Mosque. The mosque was inaugurated by the Egyptian Ambassador, Hassan Nachat Pasha, at a ceremony that took place on 1 August 1941. The ceremony was attended by approximately 300, including representatives from the Indian Company of the Pioneer Corps, and speeches were made by Sir Hassan Suhrawardy (Muslim Advisor to the Secretary of State for India), Sir Ernest Hotson (on behalf of the London Mosque Fund Trust), and Said Amir Shah and Ahmed Din Qureshi as officials of the Jamiat-ul-Muslimin.

Also located at the East London Mosque was the Indigent Moslems Burial Fund which raised money to provide for the burial of Muslims in Britain and the upkeep of their graves. The Islamic Cultural Centre, which was still in need of funds and at the planning stage in the mid-1940s, aimed to provide ‘secular education combined with facilities for vocational and technical training in an Islamiah Madrassah’.

Key Individuals' Details: 

Abdullah Yusuf Ali (trustee), Syed Ameer Ali (original member of the Board of Trustees for the London Mosque Fund), Waris Ameer Ali (trustee), Munshi Ghulam Mohammed Buta (Arab who led prayers at the mosque), Sir Ernest Hotson, The Aga Khan (President of the Board of Trustees), Sahibdad Khan (Secretary of the Jamiat-ul-Muslimin), Firoz Khan Noon (High Commissioner of India in England, 1936-41, and trustee), Hassan Nachat Pasha, Said Amir Shah (Treasurer of the Jamiat-ul-Muslimin), Hassan Suhrawardy (Muslim Advisor to Secretary of State for India, Chairman of the Board of Trustees).


Ayub Ali (Treasurer of the East London branch of the India League, involved with Jamiat), Dr Mohammed Buksh (original President of the Jamiat), Allah Dad Khan (involved with Jamiat, Treasurer at some point), Ghulam Mohammed (Co-Secretary of the Jamiat), Ahmad Din Quereshi (silk merchant and Co-Secretary of the Jamiat).

Involved in events details: 

Inauguration ceremony, 1 August 1941

Dispute between the Jamiat-ul-Muslimin and the trustees of the East London Mosque regarding the management of religious ceremonies and other duties, October 1943

Secondary works: 

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2002)


Extract from Metropolitan Police Report, 14 October 1943, L/PJ/12/468, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras, pp. 269, 271


This Indian Political Intelligence file documents the activities of Muslims in Britain from the 1920s to the 1940s. It includes government reports and correspondence between key Muslim figures and British government officials relating in particular to the establishment of the East London Mosque and the Central Mosque (Regent's Park), and proposals for the establishment of the Nizamiah Mosque (West Kensington). It also includes a copy of the pamphlet produced for the inauguration of the mosque in 1941.


The Jamiat…resolved to hold a public meeting at the Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, W.C.1 on 10th October 1943, at which the Executive Committee of the Jamiat decided to state its case…

This meeting was attended by about 400 persons, the majority of whom were Punjabi and Bengali Muslims…While there was no disorder there was an atmosphere of suppressed excitement and little encouragement would have been needed to inflame the passions of those present…

Khan…gave a history of the LONDON MOSQUE FUND, making it quite plain that it was only through the agitation of the JAMIAT that the East London Mosque came into being. When the Jamiat came into being in 1934, no effort had been made to build a mosque and it was only after repeated representations to individual Trustees by members of the JAMIAT that any move was made to implement the objects for which the LONDON MOSQUE FUND was raised.

Referring to the ISLAMIC CULTURE CENTRE, he said the JAMIAT had never favoured the financial support given by the British Council. Muslim institutions were not in need of donations from un-Islamic organisations as there was enough money among Muslims to endow a purely Islamic scheme.

Said Amir SHAH repeated, in Urdu, the history of the LONDON MOSQUE FUND, but he struck a personal note, and he implied that the India Office ran the affairs of the Mosque through its representatives, the Trustees. He did not consider the Muslim Trustees as good Muslims, declaring that they put the interests of the British Government before their duty to Islam. He mentioned the name of Sir Hassan Suhrawardy whom he alleged never came to the Mosque merely to pray – there was always a sinister motive for his casual visits.


This is an extract from a police account of a meeting held by the Jamiat-ul-Muslimin, an organization integral to the inauguration and management of the East London Mosque, in protest at the notice served against them by the board of trustees as a result of a dispute regarding control of the mosque's affairs. Evident here is mobilization on the part of a group of working-class South Asian Muslims in Britain, suggesting a significant and perhaps surprising degree of agency on their part. Evident also in this dispute between members of the Jamiat (largely working class) and the Board of Trustees (largely elite and partly British) is a desire for cultural autonomy on the part of the Muslim protesters, as well as division and dissent along lines of class within the South Asian Muslim 'community' in London, which is in turn suggestive of the significant role played by class (as well as faith) in the experience and identity formation of South Asian migrants in Britain.

Archive source: 

L/PJ/12/468, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

L/PJ/12/646, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras