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Baitul Futuh Mosque

Purpose-built mosque and the largest in Western Europe, with 15m diameter dome and minarets 36m and 23m high, accommodating 13,000 worshippers. The building is a blend of Islamic and modern British architecture and incorporates much of the structure of an old dairy site. Facilities include halls, library, creche, studios. Voted one of top 50 buildings in the world by Independent Magazine.

Architect

Sutton Griffin Architects

Date

2003

181 London Road, Morden SM4 5PT

Sat/Sun 10am-5pm. Regular talks and tours, pre-book ONLY on 020 8648 5255. Talks given in Urdu, Arabic, German and English. For further information and booking: office@baitulfutuh.

Morden

Morden South

93, 154, 213, 80

  • Bookshop at location
  • Free parking
  • Access for wheelchair users
  • Refreshments available
  • Regularly open to the public at no charge
  • Toilets available

BAITUL FUTUH MOSQUE London_s skyline is dominated by showy new monuments to mammon _ Gherkin, Shard and Cheesegrater _ but religious buildings still get a look in, and recently, along with the spires, towers, temples and tabernacles of Christian worship, domes and minarets mark the newer presence of Islam.The Baitul Futuh mosque in Morden, purpose built and opened in 2003, is one of the largest in Europe. It is the UK headquarters the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, a branch of Islam, founded in India in the late 19th century, and active in Britain since the 1920s. From a distance, the steel dome and the minarets of Baitul Futuh (it means House of Victories) signal clearly its point and purpose. Close-up, the mosque reveals itself not as a single building but a pale marble-clad, high-windowed complex, cool, contemporary, even corporate in its spare, uncluttered externals.The external modernity is a reminder that Islamic architecture is not in a time warp; it has flowered in more styles in more countries over the centuries than has western Gothic. Other mosques have dazzlingly decorative fa‡ades, golden domes and higher minarets; by contrast, Baitul Futuh shows perhaps a lighter touch. The brief given to the lead architect, Patrick Griffin of Sutton, Griffin and Morgan (Newbury) was to fuse elements of British and Eastern styles. The Western input is apparent in the overall disciplined simplicity of the structure. Behind its security perimiter, it is cool and calm. The basic religious requirements of a mosque, which have not changed over the centuries, are that it must face Mecca and contain separate prayer halls for men and women. But with the growth of the Ahmadiyya Muslim movement, the mosque is also a community centre. Older structures on the 5-acre site, once an Express Dairy bottling plant, have been renovated to provide extra community facilities. These include three large halls, for spiritual and social functions, and a long suite with a library and a museum/gallery themed on the history of the Ahmadiyya Muslim movement. There is also a gym, and a television studio as the Imam_s weekly sermons are broadcast to followers round the world.The focus of the mosque is the hexagonal prayer hall. To anyone more familiar with the religious clutter of iconography of other faiths, its starkness is at first strange. But the absence of icons and images concentrates the mind. The single calligraphic inscription round the frieze of the dome, 10 metres in diameter, is all there is to see as the eye looks upwards. That and the small niche from which the Imam prays and preaches. Then, the vastness of the space, where up to 6,000 of the faithful congregate on Fridays (the whole complex can hold 13,000 people), is emphasised by the carpet: long strips of green in two contrasting shades. It looks as well tended as a tennis court, a reminder that Wimbledon is only a few miles away.Two difficulties faced the mosque_s construction: first, hostility fuelled by the British National Party; and second, the site is awkwardly wedged next to a railway line. Both were overcome. The result is an uplifting landmark. Even the issue of retaining a 36m industrial chimney has been solved: it has been concealed inside a minaret.