The Baitul Futuh mosque in south London reopened this Friday for worship after a fire destroyed community halls and offices last week. Thousands of people attended the prayer service.
The mosque, purported to be the largest in western Europe, went up in flames a week ago Saturday. Arson was suspected, and two youths, ages 14 and 16, were arrested.
It took 70 firefighters 24 hours to extinguish the blaze. Fortunately, the main prayer areas of the mosque suffered no damage.
Friday’s service still bore evidence of the heavy residual smell of smoke in the air, but a varied assortment of visiting worshippers as well as regular, pressed on. Guests included community leaders, police officials, local councillors, and members of other faiths. The service was broadcast to 200 countries.
Imranuddin, a member of Baitul Futuh’s management team, said that a hundred years of Ahmadi history in the United Kingdom that was stored in the mosque was lost to the fire. He indicated though that their entire membership was grateful for the community support that they had received.
The mosque belongs to members of the Ahmadiyya faith, 100 million strong worldwide. Orthodox Muslims consider the faith to be heretical because believers consider Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be their messiah and prophet instead of the Prophet Muhammad. Because of this, Ahmadiyya followers are subject to persecution in some countries, including Pakistan.
Police investigators do not believe the fire to be a hate crime. Both juveniles were released with the 14-year-old subject to further questioning. The investigation is still open at this time.
The mosque complex spans 5.2 acres and was designed to accommodate 10,500 people who come to worship in prayer at the same time.
A.L. Woods has been working as a freelance commercial writer since 1989 and is currently the Religious News Correspondent for The Daily Voice News. She is an author, editor, and lover of all things tech. Woods is "building her own little corner of the world one word at a time."JOIN HER MAILING LIST to stay up to date on major releases.Visit her AUTHOR PAGE to check out some of the inspirational books that she has written.