Imagine the Parish Mosque

By John Martin

There is no reason why the Muslims in Britain should hesitate to design their mosques to look like traditional parish churches, a former government faith minister has suggested.

“A nod to the heritage and the culture that you find yourself in can be very helpful,” said Baroness Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, a Muslim. She wants “to see an Islam which sits comfortably within Britain and a Britain that sits more at ease with Islam.”

In a speech at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham, London, where she is a visiting professor, the baroness said there were no legal or theological barriers to her idea as “the only requirement is for it to have a place for the imam to stand, to be facing Mecca when you pray, and to have places for people to wash before prayer.” Muslims, she added, were not under obligation to wear full Middle Eastern dress such as the burqa when they live in the West.

“I defend my right to dress modestly, but that doesn’t have to look like it would in Yemen,” she said. “I cannot understand why you would want to look like someone who walked out of Yemen, unless your parents lived there.”

She elaborated in an interview with The Telegraph: “The phrase that I keep coming back to, which is rooted in Islamic thinking, is that Islam is like a river that takes the colour from the bed over which it flows, the bed being the country in which it is found.”

Image: East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre by Danny Robinson, via Wikimedia Commons


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