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Mayor launches East London Mosque archives strong-room

28th Dec 2017
Mayor launches East London Mosque archives strong-room

Chair East London Mosque Habibur Rahman and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan launch the Archive Strong Room (Photo: Courtesy of East London Mosque)

Ahmed J Versi

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, inaugurated the first ever British Muslim Archives strong-room at the East London Mosque Trust on November 22.

“It’s an absolute privilege for me as the Mayor of London, to be at the East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre, where we open the Archives,” said Khan.

The archives, which have been preserved for 107 years is “a great example of Muslims contributing to the wellbeing of East London more than a hundred years ago but also shows how the organisation has grown and helped our city become the greatest city in the World,” added Mayor of London.

Praising the archive work done by the East London Mosque, Khan said “by chronicling our history, the East London Mosque has done a service to the next generation. It ensures that we have a full and proper account of the past, we can benefit from the knowledge, experience and wisdom of all those that went before us.”

The Mayor told The Muslim News that the archives shows that “we have to recognise that this was through the hard work of our fathers and forefathers by fundraising, doing interfaith work, talking to Jewish, Christian and those of other faiths” that the mosque has grown to one of the largest mosques in Europe from humble beginnings over a hundred years ago.

Khan emphasised the importance of building the archives as “unless we understand our history we cannot really make progress going forward. One of the important things about this strong-room archive is that we preserve our history through that knowledge.”

Welcoming the guests, East London Mosque Trust Chairman, Habibur Rahman, said, “Our predecessors responsible for this mosque handed to us a legacy, and it was our duty to ensure it remained available in the best possible way for generations to come.”

The Mosque has about 250,000 documents starting from 1911 and “are important as primary sources in the writing of modern British social history and understanding the history of Muslim settlement, particularly in the East End,” he added.

The Mosque received help from the National Archives which supports all archives, in order to present as full a picture as possible of life in Britain. They have been advising the Mosque on the organisation, management, conservation for its archives.

Director of Research and Collections of the National Archives, Dr Valerie Johnson, said the collections “document the growth of the organisation from the establishment of the London Mosque Fund, to the first building in East London, to the purpose-built mosque and London Muslim Centre on Whitechapel Road. The records document the functions and activities of the mosque and London Muslim Centre and include minutes, correspondence, marriage records, finance records, photographs, architectural and building records, and press cuttings.”

The opening of a new archives strong-room is “truly important, helping to preserve archives and thereby delivering a valuable contribution to the greater good of religious and cultural heritage of this city and of the nation.”

Dr Johnson said Muslims need to archive their records as these are “integral to understanding our shared cultural heritage and are our collective memory, allowing society to hold institutions to account; to explore our collective and personal identities; to underpin research; to connect generations with the past, and to inspire.”

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