SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - The Islamic Centre of England
The Islamic Centre of England-London (ICEL) was founded in December 1995, and opened officially in November 1998.
The Centre, in common with other Islamic organisations in Europe, wishes to provide spiritual guidance for the Muslim community at large, and also wishes to cater for the social, cultural, educational and recreational needs of members of the community – especially women and the next generation.
The Centre’s other main objective manifests itself in its sincere effort to disseminate authentic knowledge about Islam and to provide non-Muslims with a better and clearer understanding of Islam.
ICEL seeks to build bridges with the society at large and establish closer ties between peoples of different faiths and cultures all over the world.
The building of the Islamic Centre of England is a listed building, which has been refurbished to assume an Islamic decorative hue. On its ground level the building boasts a grand hall, measuring 20 x 16m, which is capable of accommodating some 450 people; it is used for holding major functions. There is also a smaller hall on a raised platform, measuring 20 x 6m, used mainly for prayers. The first floor comprises two halls, the first measuring 20 x 6m and the second 8 x 8m; they are capable of accommodating 150 and 50 people respectively. The library is situated on the first floor.
The annexe comprises a bookshop (Tel: 02076045523).
The main hall is equipped with state of the art audio-visual equipments, such as projectors, a giant screen for showing films, public address and simultaneous translation systems. There is also a stage that can be used, amongst other things, for theatrical performances.
The Islamic Centre of England wishes to provide services to members of the Muslim community, in particular*, and the wider community at large, across a number of fields; religious guidance and cultural issues are at the forefront.
Highly qualified religious scholars have offered their services to The Islamic Centre of England in order to provide religious guidance, advice and counselling.
*The community members are from wide and different backgrounds and ways of life, culture, race and language, including non-Muslims, indigenous and migrated namely; Afghani, Arabs, British, Eastern European, Canadian, Germans, Indian, Italian, Pakistani, Philippines.
Religious Enquires Section
In an attempt to fulfil man’s quest for knowledge, the Religious Enquires Section (RES) of the Islamic Centre of England was set up at the very beginning. It comprises a highly competent team of multilingual experts who will deal with every question according to the linguistic background of the enquirer. Following an initial assessment, queries will be answered.
Questions are received from all over the world via telephone, fax, and email and in person. Since the questions stem from Muslims as well as non-Muslims coming from different ethno-religious backgrounds, our answers aim to provide a modern, detailed and clear response. These answers are compiled for a publication. RES has already published many books containing these questions and answers.
Family and Social Affairs Department
Human beings are social beings and social interactions need a thoughtful approach if one wishes to keep one’s religious values. Communities have a duty to educate and be educated in the art of communicating with others. A good and healthy relationship between husband and wife can have a huge impact on the upbringing of children who are constantly looking for role models to follow.
The Family and Social Affairs Department of the Islamic Centre of England was one of the first departments to be set up upon the establishment of the Centre. This section is a refuge and reference for the community to seek advice and consideration of their family and social affairs, individually and collectively.
The main areas of work covered by this department are: Solemnisation of Marriages, Family Consultation, Miscellaneous social affairs, Islamic Divorce procedures and responding to many other queries related to the above issues as well as conversion to Islam. The department offers an excellent opportunity to gauge the extent of problems or trends in Islamic communities due to having direct access to real people.
There are several causes that can bring about disputes in a family. Among the general causes that can be mentioned are legislation, egoism and ignorance. Unfortunately prompt action in the form of mediation and intervention by a neutral party is often delayed. In this respect Islamic Centres and religious organisations have a very delicate and important role and duty to perform by providing necessary professional assistance especially for the families of the immigrant community.
In its drive to disseminate authentic knowledge about Islam, the Islamic Centre of England organises several conferences and seminars every year in collaboration with British and other International educational and cultural institutions. In the last few years a number of such seminars were organised on a variety of topics. From the purely religious to the day-to-day, the Centre invites specialists in different topics to give weekly lectures. Since Muslims in the UK form a mosaic of ethnicity, ICE provides speakers in four different languages for these weekly lectures: English, Arabic, Persian, and Urdu. These lectures are available on our website.
The Islamic Centre of England provides a range of educational classes for both Muslims and non-Muslims.
The Islamic Community in London can benefit from a variety of courses and educational activities designed to improve one’s understanding of Islamic principles and practices.
In addition to the above, the Centre also opens its doors to any groups or individuals interested in acquiring a better understanding of Islam and Muslims. Educational sessions can be held for groups or on a one-to-one basis.
To this effect the Centre has established direct links with a number of schools and universities for which it provides regular lessons to visiting students.
Islamic Calendar Events
Numerous events adorn the Islamic calendar. Ramadan, the fasting season, and Muharram are just two such auspicious and sacred occasions.
ICEL celebrate the occasion of the month-long fast of Ramadan by holding gathering for congregational prayers, recitation of the Holy Quran, giving lectures and providing meals for the devotees to break their daytime fast.
ICEL also celebrates the anniversary of the Public Declaration of the Mission of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him and his pure progeny).
Islamic Centre of England seizes the opportunity of the anniversary of the birth of the Messenger of Allah to observe a week of celebrations with the theme of “Islam Unity”. While celebrating this auspicious event, the occasion is utilised to serve as a reminder that the Muslim Ummah (community) is one.
ICEL also celebrate the birth anniversaries of other luminaries of Islam and commemorates their deaths. This is done with the objective of drawing lessons from their principled lives and providing spiritual enrichment for members of the community.
Publications and Distribution
The Islamic Centre of England has a team of competent staff and advisers who are charged with the responsibility of the publication and distribution of printed material in English, Persian, Arabic and Urdu. 'Living Islam' is a monthly newsletter which is published and distributed in these four languages.
Library and Booksho
Other aspects of the cultural landscape, which ICEL strives to make an impact on, include the publication of printed matters such as books and leaflets, audio cassettes CDs and DVDs materials. These deal mainly with Islamic issues and religious practice.
The Library contains a few thousand volumes on different topics. It regularly receives magazines, periodicals and newsletters dealing with Islamic issues and studies. Other publications, in English, Persian, Arabic and Urdu, aimed at giving information about Islam, can be acquired free of charge. The Centre welcomes scholars, researchers and students to make use of the library.
The Bookshop stocks a wide range of multilingual books, magazines, journals, audio tapes, CDs and DVDs. In addition, there are posters, calendars and items of Islamic arts.