Past Events

The City Circle is an open circle for open minds

The mosque is dead: Long live the mosque

Salaam Centre at dusk

The Salaam Centre (Image credit: Mangera Yvars Architects)

Date: Friday 12 January 2018

Time: 18.45 - 20.30

Venue: Abrar House, 45 Crawford Place, London W1H 4LP 

Speakers: Iqbal Asaria, Shahed Saleem, Hassan Joudi, Julie Siddiqi and Sufia Alam 

The first mosque in history – the Prophet’s (pbuh) Mosque in the city of Medina– was a space where people came together not only in ritual worship but also as families and as a community. It played a vital role in interfaith work, charity and education.

Over the centuries, particularly in Muslim-majority countries, mosques have reflected not only our evolving religious and cultural practices, but also advances in art, architecture and technology.

In the UK, the first mosques were often small rooms where groups of newly-settled Muslims congregated to pray together. Later purpose-built mosques were built, reminiscent of “back home”, architecturally echoing the typical dome and minaret, and spiritually through importing an Imam who spoke the first language of the worshippers.

Today many would argue that the leaders in those mosques are out of touch with the local community: the young Muslim man now has a local Imam who can’t converse with him in English, and the young Muslim woman is forced to pray in a cramped room in a basement.

We now need to ask what is the future of mosques in the UK. What should a modern place of worship look like? What challenges do the mosque leaders face? Are the spaces inclusive? What role can technology play? What does the Muslim community want and need?


Chair: Shahed Saleem, Architect, author and lecturer @makespace_  

Shahed Saleem is an architect, researcher and lecturer living and working in East London. His architectural practice specialises in places of worship, and he has been working with Muslim communities for over a decade exploring the possibilities of a new Muslim architecture in Britain. Through this work his practice engages with processes of making community and religious spaces, negotiating discourses of planning, community and visual cultures.

Shahed has authored a major monograph entitled, ‘The British Mosque, a social and architectural history’, which is the first comprehensive account of Muslim architecture in Britain. He has also published a number of articles on different aspects of mosque history and culture. Since 2010 Saleem has been a member on English Heritage’s Places of Worship Forum, has served as a jury member for the ACE/RIBA Religious Building of the Year Award, has been nominated for the V&A Jameel Prize for Art and Architecture 2013 and acts as a consultant for the Muslim Council of Britain’s Research and Documentation Committee.

Iqbal Asaria, Founding Trustee, The Salaam Centre @TheSalaamCentre

Iqbal trained as an Economist and worked in the City of London for many years. Presently he is visiting lecturer in Islamic Banking, Finance and Insurance at CASS Business School in London and Bangor Business School in Wales as well as a Special Advisor on Economic Affairs to the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain. 

In 2005 Iqbal was awarded the CBE in the Queen New Year’s Honours list for services to international development.

Hassan Joudi, Muslim Council of Britain @MuslimCouncil  

Hassan is a volunteer co-ordinator for Visit My Mosque day - a national initiative which started in 2015 encouraging mosques across the UK to hold open days and welcome in their neighbours, and facilitated by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). In 2017 over 150 mosques across the UK took part. In his role supporting mosques in holding open days he has gained insights into the wider challenges and opportunities facing mosques across Britain. This has led to the MCB hosting a one-day conference on the future of mosques in Britain entitled Our Mosques Our Future on 20 January 2018.

As a community activist based in London, he is passionate about supporting Muslim communities in the UK to improve, collaborate effectively and better serve wider British society. Hassan studied mechanical engineering and currently works as a chartered engineer in the energy sector.

Julie Siddiqi, Open My Mosque

Julie has a career in grassroots community organising and campaigning spanning 20 years. She has a keen interest in gender issues and enabling social action opportunities for faith communities. She is also part of Open My Mosque, an initiative which raises awareness of the lack of permanent open and positive spaces for women in UK Mosques.

Julie is Co-Founder of Nisa-Nashim Jewish and Muslim Women’s Network and has worked closely with the Jewish community on a number of areas of work for the last seven years. She is also Founder of Sadaqa Day, a day of social action encouraging Muslims to see 'charity' as more than just giving money and enabling people to DO charity as a form of service in their local areas. She has become a familiar voice raising issues and concerns of UK Muslims still giving too much money abroad and not having enough focus on UK issues and infrastructure.

Sufia Alam, Maryam Centre

Sufia is the centre manager at the Maryam Centre, the new addition to East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre. Her role is to support Muslim women and their families to maximise their potential, and raise awareness of issues affecting their lives through projects and programmes.

Sufia is an experienced third sector director, who started work at the Wapping Women’s centre in 1997. During her time there she delivered projects and programmes that give women valuable skills towards employment opportunities and education. She set up one of the first community gardens to bring people on a housing estate together, along with a catering social enterprise, ‘Healthy Chula’ that operates out of the centre. She has been the Chair and is a founding member of Muslim Women’s collective, an umbrella organisation set up in 2007.

In 2012 Sufia was appointed as one of 14 commissioners to serve on the Tower Hamlets fairness commission and was able to make recommendations to the local authority.

Additional details

Free entrance. All welcome. Prayer space available. Street parking free from 18:30. Doors open at 18:45 and the talk begins at 19:00. If you have any questions, please contact the event organiser: