£1.2m plan to double size of mosque in Queen’s Crescent
'We are struggling to accommodate all people - The community has grown very fast'
05 September, 2019 — By Samantha Booth
Community activist Mick Farrant, mosque secretary Kamal Hussin and volunteer Abdul Musabbir
A MOSQUE near Queen’s Crescent is preparing a bid to double in size to help meet demand from thousands of Muslims in Camden.
The Kentish Town Baitul Aman Mosque, in Weedington Road, is planning to buy a neighbouring shop and its current rented space, costing in total £1.2million.
Organisers say that by growing it can take up to 200 more men each prayer session as well as provide a new area for up to 80 women to pray. Currently, at busy times, there have to be several shifts for each prayer time to accommodate the hundreds who turn up.
Mosque secretary Kamal Hussin said: “We are struggling to accommodate all people. The community has grown very fast. Local Muslim people need space for prayers for this generation and coming generations. We are not asking for free space, we will pay. We need a bigger space. People are ready to pay.”
The mosque was founded in 1998 when a group from the local community obtained permission for five daily prayers at the then shop premises.
They would often travel to mosques in the south of the borough, but when winter came this was difficult.
After several years, the shop next door was leased to them to create the current space – with a capacity of 350 people at just over 1,660 square feet.
Mr Hussin said Gospel Oak, Kentish Town, Hampstead, Haverstock, Highgate, Frognal and Fitzjohn’s and Swiss Cottage are served by one mosque, with most other mosques in the south of the borough.
In the early 2000s, people were seen praying in the street outside the mosque so Queen’s Crescent Community Centre opened up a space for Friday afternoon – Jumu’ah – prayers.
At weekends, a school teaches children about Islam. Recently, coordinated youth volunteers have helped feed the homeless.
The mosque holds multifaith events, including open days and iftars – the breaking-of-the-fast meal during Ramadan.
“Since 2015, we have been a very active mosque trying to make a connection with the community,” said Mr Hussin. “We are trying to inform and let people know what Islam is and who is the Muslim. If we do not know the religion then we are going to misunderstand each other. We have to make good relationships with each other.”
Currently, there is no facility for women to pray at the mosque, but a new part of the building would offer them space.
Mr Hussin said: “The ladies are the mothers so if they know about the information they can teach the children. “We believe they are an important part of the community.”
So far, £800,000 has been raised for the project. Donations of £1,000 or more will be acknowledged on a donors’ wall.
It is hoped the purchase will be completed by February, with planning permission sought after that. If the plan succeeds, the new mosque would open by 2021.