Calm of Ramadan disrupted by East London Mosque controversy

Discontent with the management of the East London Mosque (ELM) and the London Muslim Centre (LMC) among some members of Tower Hamlets Muslim community has been highlighted by an online petition calling for the current trustees to be dismissed and a new board of trustees to be elected.

The petition, ‘It’s time for a change this Ramadan. A new board of trustees for the East London Masjid!”, started by Kalam Miah, makes a number of allegations regarding the East London Mosque (or Masjid) which have been denied by ELM management in a response letter published on Facebook.

Allegations denied

In the response the current ELM trustees state that: “It is sad that at the outset of Ramadan some are jeopardising their fasting by spreading slander and lies. A recent video claim that trustees of the East London Mosque have profited financially from their position is baseless and utterly untrue.”

LW has contacted the East London Mosque for comment.

Damage to standing of East London Masjid

Allegations raised in the petition include:

  • That trustees operate in a manner that damages the standing of the ELM
  • Undue influence over the East London Masjid by the now-defunct Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) which is now called the Muslim Community Association
  • Business space in the London Muslim Centre given to those with past affiliation to the IFE over members of the mosque community
  • Questions over the promised Maryam Academy girls school
  • Delays to constructing the extension to the masjid’s main prayer hall at the rear of the main building towards Fieldgate Street

The depth of feeling on these issues is underlined by this public disagreement becoming public during Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, during which Muslims fast from early morning to sunset.

ELM and LMC complex

The East London Mosque complex in Whitechapel Road consists of three main buildings.

Buildings in the East London Mosque complex Whitechapel

The mosque itself is one of the largest in Europe and can accommodate up to 7,000 worshippers for prayers. Adjoining the mosque is the London Muslim Centre which is used for educational purposes and also contains many local businesses in its business wing.

Behind the East London Mosque is the Maryam Centre which is the most recent construction and is a nine-story building dedicated to women’s prayer and services.

Vacant land next at the rear of the ELM is one issue that has raised concerns.

Vacant land at the rear of the ELM along Fieldgate Street is one of the issues causing concern.

Thoughtful and impassioned video

Insight into the depth of feelings about the manner in which the ELM is managed and the way in which criticisms have been met is given by a heartfelt video published by Janu Emani on Facebook. One of the many comments on the video is “To me it feels like ELM has turned into a business venture.”

Criticisms of the management of ELM leadership have partly been triggered by the resignation of Nozmul Hussain as CEO of the East London Mosque Trust (ELM) and the publication of his resignation letter in which he states that “My work with ELMT has been like a roller coaster ride, often exhilarating, but on occasions nauseating.”

You can read his letter here. 

The vacant CEO post is being advertised on the ELM site.

Muslim Aid

One tenant of the London Muslim Centre is the Muslim Aid charity which operates in over 20 countries and has an annual income in the region of £30m. The Charity Commission opened a statutory enquiry into Muslim Aid in November 2013 as a result of financial irregularities in two African field offices in 2012.

Muslim Aid works in over 20 countries worldwide

In October 2016 an interim manager was appointed by the Commission as it did not consider that the Muslim Aid trustees had made enough progress in complying with best practise.

The final Charity Commission report found various problems with the way Muslim Aid was run including unmanaged conflicts of interest, inadequate controls of branding activities and insufficient oversight of more than 100 bank accounts.

Related Internet Links

LW Comment

Disagreements over the management of the East London Mosque are rarely carried out in public and the use of a petition is unprecedented.

The truth of the allegations is far from confirmed and it may be some time before any conclusion is reached.

Religion, community and Tower Hamlets politics seem to be colliding at the East London Mosque at the moment – which makes a complex issue even more difficult to understand.

LW will be providing more analysis and explanation of what is happening at the East London Masjid in the coming days

Stay tuned!

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