Launch of first ever guide for archiving specifically aimed at Muslim institutes
First conference to discuss archiving Muslim heritage
Launch of one-off special edition of 105-year-old Islamic Magazine
The Everyday Muslim Heritage and Archive Initiative (EMHAI) in partnership with The National Archives have launched the first ever guide to archiving for Muslim institutes at the country’s very first conference on archiving for mosques, called ‘Preserving the History and Heritage of Mosques and Muslims in Britain.’
The pioneering event, which took place at the Shah Jahan mosque in Woking, Surrey, also launched a special ‘revival’ edition of the Islamic Review magazine – originally published at Britain’s first purpose-built mosque in February 1913.
The archives guide for mosques, madrasahs, and Islamic schools, the Shah Jahan’s own archives – which include historic copies of The Islamic Review – and the special edition were part of an 18-month project by the EMHAI called ‘Preserving the History and Heritage of Britain’s first Purpose-Built Mosque’.
The project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, also included the collation of local oral histories, and the development of a travelling exhibition, a heritage trail and educational resources.
The conference concludes EMHAI’s work at the Shah Jahan, but founder, Sadiya Ahmed, believes there is still much work to be done.
“The mosque and this area, which is also home to the country’s first Muslim cemetery and military burial ground is home to some of the most important British Muslim history, and we are extremely proud and honoured to have played a small part in preserving and disseminating it to the public.
“However, what we have learned is that there is so much that still needs exploring and preserving. We have only scratched the surface.”
Much of what the project has achieved will be revealed at the conference, which is a free ticketed event, including the distribution of a limited number of print copies of The Islamic Review Special Edition.
The homage to the magazine, which ceased publication in Woking in 1971, features articles written by academics, experts, locals and those involved in heritage work.
This includes biographer of famous Liverpool convert, Abdullah Quilliam, Professor Ron Geaves, British Muslim expert, Professor Humayun Ansari, author of The British Mosque; an architectural and social history, Shahed Saleem and the former Commissioning Editor of Kube Publications and academic, Yahya Birt, who was also the one-off magazine’s Editorial Consultant.
Many of them also gave talks at the conference.
“As well as mapping some of the key histories of Islam and Muslims in Britain in an accessible and readable way, the magazine’s articles also reveal tantalising links to Woking with global figures like T E Lawrence and Muhammad Ali,” said editor of the 2018 Islamic Review, Tharik Hussain, who was also co-Project Manager for the overall project.
After the conference, the new magazine was made available online at the Everyday Muslim website.
As well as old copies of The Islamic Review, the Shah Jahan’s own archives also feature several documents that offer a glimpse into the mosque’s illustrious history.
Gems include a minutes book of the British Muslim Society from 1936, the written shahadahs (testimonies of faith) of long forgotten converts to Islam, and historic photos and postcards.
“The archives of a mosque tell the story of its community and with a mosque as important as the Shah Jahan, this is a story important to the entire British social narrative and beyond.
“We are really proud to be able to set this up here at the mosque so that future generations can appreciate its fabulous history,” said Sadiya Ahmed.
The Shah Jahan’s archives, which are also in the process of being digitised, are the second mosque archives to be launched in England after the East London Mosque archives were launched last year.
“It is such good news for our community and this important, historic mosque that we now have a professional archives system to preserve the past as well as the future here,” said Muhammad Habib, the Shah Jahan’s Manager
The ‘Preserving the History and Heritage of Britain’s First Purpose-Built Mosque’ project was supported by the Shah Jahan Mosque, Surrey History Centre, The Lightbox, Brookwood Cemetery and the Brookwood Cemetery Society
About the Everyday Muslim Heritage and Archive Initiative
The EMHAI was founded by Sadiya Ahmed in 2014 to document and archive Britain’s Muslim history and heritage. The organisation has worked with museums, archives, academics, artists, community groups and media professionals across the UK to deliver projects intended to achieve this goal.
The EMHAI’s first project ‘We Weren’t Expecting To Stay’ focused on the Muslim heritage around Walthamstow in east London. The organisation is also delivering a project on Britain’s Black Muslim heritage called, ‘An Exploration of Black Muslim in British History and Heritage’ and is in the process of planning a project to archive the history and heritage of British Muslim women.
About the Shah Jahan Mosque and The Islamic Review
The Shah Jahan Mosque is Britain and northern Europe’s first purpose-built mosque and a Grade I listed monument. It was founded by the Hungarian-Jewish scholar, Dr Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner in 1889 as part of his Oriental Institute, which is no more. Later, the mosque was acquired by an Indian lawyer called Khwaja Kamal ud Din, who slowly turned it into the centre of Islamic activity in Britain. The Khwaja was also the founder of the Muslim India and Islamic Review, which was first published from the mosque in February 1913. This was later renamed the Islamic Review and continued to be published from the mosque right up until 1971. The magazine had a global following with contributions from around the world and was the longest continuously published Islamic magazine in Britain.
About The Islamic Review Special Edition
The magazine’s team were, Editor: Tharik Hussain, Editorial Consultant: Yahya Birt, Designer: Irfan Ahmed (We Are One Agency) – also designed the Mosque archives guide.
Highlights include fresh details about the story behind the founding of the Shah Jahan mosque; background to Dr Leitner’s original Oriental Institute; fresh perspectives of all three surviving sites in the area – the mosque, Muslim Burial Ground and The Muhammadan Cemetery inside the Brookwood Cemetery, as well as new research about prominent Victorian Muslim convert, Abdullah Quilliam’s politics and trade union links.